Cannes 2021: A Canadian Guide to the World’s Most Prestigious Film Festival
The Cannes Film Festival is back.
After last year’s edition was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the world-famous festival returns from July 6 to 15 with an enviable lineup from top directors and movie stars, as well as a strong Canadian presence.
As the festival moves to a hybrid format, 18 Canadian films will be featured in its online repertoire, including a Celine Dion-inspired biopic, a Mad Max-as a thriller set in the Canadian Arctic and a documentary about Zoe Lucas, the ecologist from Nova Scotia.
The festival will also see the return of its showcase of Canadian short films, now in its 11th year, as well as a number of Canadian documentaries to be screened in the Cannes Docs program.
CBC News offers a guide to all things Canada at this year’s edition of the world’s most prestigious film festival.
Celine Dion-inspired biopic to screen out of competition
Perhaps the hottest Canadian film to come out of this year’s festival is the Celine Dion-inspired film Aline: The Voice of Love, a Franco-Canadian production which will make its world premiere out of competition.
It is the only film produced in Canada to be part of the official selection of the 2021 festival. Among the potential selections from last year were Canadian films. Nadia, Butterfly and Fall.
A line is a biopic-style film directed by French filmmaker Valérie Lemercier. In addition to directing, Lemercier plays Aline Dieu, a Quebec singer from a modest and music-loving family who is taken under the wing of a producer in the hope of making her a star.
The film was marketed as an “unofficial” biography of Dion’s life; his trailer features his music and his protagonist wears his portrait. Additionally, much of the story is inspired by Dion’s rise to fame and his relationship with her late manager and husband, René Angélil.
Aline: The voice of love will be released in Canada on November 26, 2021.
Highlights of the program include a dystopian thriller set in the Yukon
Polaris, written and directed by Yellowknife-born filmmaker Kirsten Carthew, will screen as part of the festival’s Fantastic 7, a program of “fantastic projects” submitted by selected international film festivals.
Polaris was submitted by the Toronto International Film Festival.
Set in a dystopian future, Polaris is a fantasy thriller about a young woman who must return home after escaping the capture of the warriors trying to kill her mother.
carthew previously described the film to CBC News as “Mad Max located in the arctic, but on a smaller budget. “
Elsewhere in the range is Songs she sings in the shadows, the first feature-length documentary by Afghan-Canadian filmmaker Fazila Amiri. The Dari-language film follows the lives of two Aghan singers and their mentor as they take part in a reality show amid the peace talks between the United States and the Taliban.
It will be screened as part of the Docs-In-Progress showcase, for documentaries in post-production. The film was a former participant of the Talent Lab of the Montreal International Documentary Festivals (RIDM) and the Hot Docs Accelerator Lab, two festival-run forums that nurture talent in the Canadian documentary scene.
For fans of the comedy-horror genre, A fit of rage tells the story of a female vampire who decides to give up her blood habit after helping a human alcoholic cleanse himself – with potentially fatal results. It is directed by Vancouver filmmaker and musician Blaine Thurier, a member of Canadian music group The New Pornographers.
A fit of rage is part of the Frontières Buyers Showcase, an industry event dedicated to genre cinema. This program is a collaboration between the festival industry market (Marché du Film) and the Montreal Fantasia International Film Festival.
Other Canadian films to be screened in the Frontières showcase include Esluna: the crown of Babylon, an animated feature film by Denver Jackson, based in Victoria and The island between the tides, by Vancouver filmmakers Austin Andrews and Andrew Holmes.
Documentaries, short films to showcase Canadian talent
Telefilm’s short film showcase, titled Not Short on Talent, will feature eight titles: In the jam jar by Colin Nixon; Joe buffalo by Amar Chebib; Joutel by Alexa-Jeanne Dubé; The little dream of the boy in love by Ritvick Mehra; Second marriage by Taylor Olson; The south wind by Auocéane Roux; Tigress by Maya Bastian; and Unicorn Code by Martin Glegg.
This is the 11th edition of the showcase.
In addition to Songs she sings in the shadows, a handful of Canadian films will be screened under the Docs-In-Progress banner. These included Geographies of loneliness from Cape Bretonnais Jacquelyn Mills, whose feature-length documentary focuses on Zoe Lucas, an environmentalist who has spent most of her life on Nova Scotia’s remote Sable Island.
There is also Whalers, produced jointly by Canadian Cape Verdean PJ Marcellino and Jerri Thrasher, born in the Northwest Territories, a historical exploration of Cape Verdean fishermen who worked in the dangerous whale trade.
From Montrealer Miryam Charles, This house revisits the death of a teenage girl in 2008, and Haida filmmaker Heather Hatch, Wochiigii Lo End of peace recounts the struggle against the construction of a mega-dam by an elder of the West Moberly First Nation.