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Through the Power of Cinema, Cinémental Brings Winnipeg’s Communities Together

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A cinematic celebration in Winnipeg made waves and brought communities together. Cinémental’s 32nd edition was a cultural event that is not just about films; it is about the cultural tapestry of the vibrant city of Winnipeg.

From October 20 to October 29, 2023, the Pauline-Boutal Hall of the Centre Cultural Franco-Manitoban (CCFM) was the gathering place for a unique experience. Cinémental’s focus on French-Canadian cinema highlights the significance of cultural diversity in our community. The impact of these films goes beyond entertainment; it is a celebration of heritage. 

Zuher Almusre met with Mélanie Bédard, the festival coordinator for Cinémental, who stated, “This is our opening of the 32nd edition, and it’s important for us because it’s an opportunity to celebrate French language films while also being inclusive by adding English subtitles, so it’s really an invitation for all to come see So it’s an opportunity to celebrate the culture and be able to see relatable people on screen. It is not only important for the French community but also for other diverse communities that we tend to represent in the films that we have at our festival.”

The festival, with its English-subtitled films, transcends language barriers, ensuring that everyone can access these powerful narratives. These stories, like windows into diverse cultures, evoke a tremendous range of emotions. 

Bédard added, “Throughout the history of Manitoba itself, we have had a minority of French people, and we have had our challenges to be able to speak our language services in our own language, and it is something that we still fight for today. Many people are not aware of the history of Manitoba, how French was abolished in schools, or how our grandparents had to hide their books. Inspectors would come to make sure that they were speaking in English, saying Oh, Canada in English and God Save the King in English. So, for us, having the point of community allows people to be able to come together to celebrate and see how important the French language is. It is an anchor for us to continue celebrating that part of us.”

What makes this event truly vital for Winnipeg’s communities is how it bridges gaps, connects people, and fosters an understanding of the rich mosaic that is our city. Cinémental, by putting French-Canadian cinema under the spotlight, highlights the diversity of voices and perspectives within our community. It brings together individuals from all occupations to celebrate and embrace the art of storytelling through film. 

– Zuher Almusre, U Multicultural

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