Wednesday, December 16, 2015


 "The cinema is the image and the voice of the 20th century. The first century when life was captured by an instrument of marvels: the cinematographer. Images have grown fragile over time, images that have to be restored and distributed for the world's memory." ~ Éléphant ClassiQ

                               Géarld Duchaussoy, Robert A. Mitchell, Sarah Dillard Mitchell

We currently live in this modern era of cinema where giant studio pictures have advertising campaigns that start years before a film is set to open in a theater. Marketing strategies that continue to slide into complete ridiculousness. One only has to look at the concept of the teaser trailer for the teaser trailer. The few films that even grace a chain movie theater arrive with much hype and most are gone in the blink of an eye. Relegated to bargain bins of giant corporate box stores. With the advent and rise of V.O.D and online streaming services -- which hopefully level out the playing field for all kinds of films, however are further removed from the communal ritual of going to a movie theater. Anyone who makes films, writes about films or enjoys watching movies will occasionally contemplate the current state of cinema. Movies these days can oftentimes not feel so much an art form but a very disposable entertainment.

Which brings me to the Éléphant ClassiQ film festival. A film festival in it's inaugural year, this first installment showcased classic French-language cinema. Films of French, Belgian, Swiss, African and Québec heritage resulted in a lot of variety in the programming. Elephant ClassiQ's theme was les films qui ont le cinéma which translates to movies that made cinema. With films screening from such luminaries such as Jean-Peirre Melville, Agnès Varda, Jaques Demy, Chantal Akerman, Jean-Luc Goddard this was a November weekend spent in the company of many cinematic greats. The curated programme was over twenty feature films, screening over the four days of the festival. One of the major highlights for me were the classic short films from Alice Guy created at the very early part of the 20th century that played before the feature films. Some examples: Les cambrioleurs (1898)  Chapellerie et charcuterie automatiques (1900),  Faust et Méphistophélès (1903) and Le tango (1905).

One of the films I was very excited to see was the restored L'armée des ombres by Jean-Pierre Melville. The film focuses on the French resistance during World War II. A sprawling, bleak tale of enormous courage in the face of great adversity. This film is Melville's epic. Here is the conversation prior to the screening with Géarld Duchaussoy and Ruy Nogueira, critique de cinéma.

Other cinema highlights were Jacques Demy's Les parapluies de Cherbourg

As well Cléo de 5 à 7 by Agnès Varda. Here is Géarld Duchaussoy's introduction.

I was also happy to see Le grand bleu by Luc Besson. A film of his I had not seen. It was very informative to see this epic character story from Monsieur Besson. The film featured exceptionally cinematography by Carlo Varini with many sequences shot underwater.

Along with the many classic films there were also belles salles de cinéma that were projecting the films. Here is the Cinéma Impérial.

The interior.

 Cinémathèque québécoise

One of the theaters.

Walking into the lobby of the Cinémathèque québécoise my eyes opened large looking at all the beautiful movie posters that were part of the exhibit celebrating the 120 years of Gaumont, the oldest cinematographic company in the world that was born at the same time as the cinema. Here are a couple of pictures:

Attending the Éléphant ClassiQ film festival was a great experience. It was wonderful to revisit old favorites and discover classic films for the first time. Huge kudos to the entire team behind this film festival who embarked on the journey to create such a great weekend showcasing many beautiful films from the past. The inaugural edition of the Éléphant ClassiQ was a beautiful celebration of cinema.

                                Robert A. Mitchell at the 2015 Éléphant ClassiQ Film Festival

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