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Festival REGARD

Saguenay, Canada

impressions by Niels Putman


There’s something extremely satisfying to see a perfectly formed line of around hundred people in front of the biggest theater in town start to scatter and grunt out of disappointment after they’ve been told the screening — a compilation of short films — is about to commence and there’s not a single seat left. It happened to me during my most recent visit to Festival Regard, taking place in a small borough called Chicoutimi in the Quebec region, and arguably a must-visit for any professional in the short film industry and filmmakers with an exciting new project under their belt. You won’t make it into every screening though, they are just simply too packed.

It’s a cliché that Canadians belong to the sweetest people on earth and it’s another cliché that those most caring for the cinematic artform work in the short film industry. All of that applies to the team of Festival Regard though, who annually invite an extensive bunch of filmmakers and industry guests to come celebrate that artform with them, often in a snow-covered and icy Saguenay.

For non-Canadian visitors, it’s a great opportunity to connect with the national industry and discover the best local shorts you might have missed in the past months. The vast programme — helmed for over a decade now by Mélissa Bouchard — contains a big competition slot where Canadian shorts compete with international ones, and several thematically curated and retrospective programmes screen additionally. There’s no way you can take it all in, but much like the Quebecois dish poutine: having a few bites already satisfies your hunger.

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