Congorama closing Director’s Fortnight

Philippe Falardeau's dramedy Congorama - about the unusual friendship between a Belgian and Quebecois man - will close the Director's Fortnight this month in Cannes, making good on a goal set by producer Luc Déry.

Philippe Falardeau’s dramedy Congorama – about the unusual friendship between a Belgian and Quebecois man – will close the Director’s Fortnight this month in Cannes, making good on a goal set by producer Luc Déry.

‘We always saw it for Cannes 2006, since the beginning,’ says Déry, who produced through his Montreal prodco micro_scope. ‘It was in the backs of our minds.’

The Fortnight is a showcase of eclectic, radical works and is independent from the Cannes film festival, though the dates of both events overlap.

‘We’re a good fit to close Fortnight,’ says Déry. ‘Congorama is a Philippe film all the way, original in style and tone. The closing slot positions us as a widely accessible film, a more pleasing film among some harder, grittier pieces.’

Falardeau is ‘artsy’ and ‘edgy’ he adds, ‘but he’s a joy, not a tortured artist-type.’

The French-language copro with France and Belgium reunites Falardeau and Déry, who did well with their 2000 film La Moitié gauche du frigo (The Left-hand Side of the Fridge), which won the helmer the Claude Jutra award at the Genies.

The National Film Bopard-produced Conte de quartier by Florence Miailhe is the only Canadian entry in competition at the Cannes festival itself, although the fest will also feature a retrospective of work by NFB animation pioneer Norman McLaren.

U.K.-based The Works has picked up Congorama for world sales. French and Belgian buyers are also said to be buzzing. ‘[The Works] loved it. They feel strongly they can sell this film to territories where French isn’t spoken. Aside from having a strong connection at home, it has worldwide appeal,’ says Déry.

Congorama stars Paul Ahmarani (La Moitié) and Belgian star Olivier Gourmet, winner of the best actor Palme d’or at Cannes in 2002 for Le Fils. ‘Gourmet raises interest for sure. He’s a well-known international name,’ says Déry.

Production was backed by Telefilm Canada, which is taking another 13 films it has supported – 3 Needles, Comeback Season, The Rocket and others – to the Cannes market as part of its new ‘Perspective Canada’ initiative. The funder will put on a series of daily screenings in hope of boosting international sales and copros.

‘Ultimately, the new initiative will keep expanding avenues in which Canada will continue to be showcased as a key player on the world stage,’ said Telefilm chief Wayne Clarkson in a statement.