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Quebec filmmakers added to Cannes Film Festival sidebar categories

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Count on plenty of Canuck content at Cannes this year — three more Canadian films have been added to the prestigious film showcase.

Stephane Lafleur's francophone drama "Tu dors Nicole" (You sleep Nicole) and the animated short film "Jutra," from Marie-Jose Saint-Pierre, are part of the directors' fortnight, a sidebar highlighting emerging auteurs. And the international critics' week sidebar includes Remi St-Michel's short film "Little Brother" (Petit frere).

At a Tuesday news conference in Montreal, Lafleur noted the importance of the Cannes spotlight.

"When you think of major festivals, everyone knows about Cannes. Not everyone knows the movies that played at Cannes or won there a year earlier but everyone knows Cannes," Lafleur said at a press conference in Montreal.

"So, just to be associated with that, regardless of whatever category you're in, creates interest in the film right off the bat."

He said he initially didn't believe it when he heard he had made the cut.

"It took me 10 or 15 minutes to be sure that (co-producer) Kim (McCraw) wasn't having me on," he said.

Lafleur and his Quebec colleagues add their films to a growing list of Maple Leaf movies at the festival. Three previously announced titles are vying for the Palme d'Or — David Cronenberg's "Maps to the Stars," Atom Egoyan's "The Captive" and Xavier Dolan's "Mommy."

That's on top of Canuck actor Ryan Gosling, who is set to make his directorial debut with "Lost River" in the Un Certain Regard sidebar, and Canadian director Dean DeBlois, who makes the out-of-competition slate with DreamWorks' animated feature "How To Train Your Dragon 2."

Lafleur said he was pleased to see so much Quebec content this year.

"I was really happy for Xavier. The fact that my peers — people like Denis Cote and Denis Villeneuve — shine in festivals worldwide isn't competition for me. On the contrary, I think we're sort of helping each other and it creates a kind of interest in Quebec cinema."

Telefilm Canada describes Lafleur's drama as about a woman "enjoying the family home while her parents are away ... until her older brother Remi shows up with his music group. The summer then takes an unexpected turn for Nicole and her best friend Veronique."

"Tu dors Nicole" comes from the same Quebec production company behind "Monsieur Lazhar," "Gabrielle" and "Enemy."

And "Jutra" is a 13-minute film that draws on archival footage and animated sequences to profile Quebec filmmaker Claude Jutra, director of "Mon oncle Antoine."

Saint-Pierre directs and produces the film in co-production with the National Film Board.

Claude Joli-Coeur, acting government film commissioner and NFB chairman, describes the film as "an original mix of animation and documentary" that "juxtaposes the two genres to push the boundaries of filmmaking."

The directors' fortnight, which takes place May 15 to 25, will open with Celine Sciamma's "Girlhood" and close with Matthew Warchus's period drama "Pride," about a group of LGBT activists raising money to support striking mineworkers during the Margaret Thatcher era.

The rest of the 19-film slate includes John Boorman's Korean War-set drama "Queen and Country," Frederick Wiseman's documentary "The National Gallery," Bruno Dumont's detective story "Li'l Quinquin," Sundance grand jury prize winner "Whiplash" and a restored version of Tobe Hooper's "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre."

The Cannes Film festival runs May 14 to 25.

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