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Year: 2005
Language: French
Format: 35mm Colour
Runtime: 102 min
Director: Louise Archambault
Producer: Luc Déry
Cinematographer: André Turpin
Editor: Sophie Leblond
Sound: Pierre Bertrand, Sylvain Bellemare, Louis Gignac
Music: Ramachandra Borcar
Cast: Micheline Lanctôt, Macha Grenon, Mylène St-Sauveur, Juliette Gosselin, Vincent Graton, Sylvie Moreau
Production Company: Cirrus Communications

Mimi (Sylvie Moreau), a free-spirited aerobics instructor with a severe gambling problem, is forced once again to pack up her life with her teenaged daughter, Marguerite (Mylène St-Sauveur), and leave for greener pastures when the one-armed bandit leaves her flat broke. Planning on driving to California, Mimi and Marguerite stop at the home of Mimi’s mother, Madeleine (Micheline Lanctôt), a young-at-heart, sex-crazed card shark, but their plan to acquire funds for the trip runs afoul when Madeleine’s pervy professor boyfriend makes flagrant advances on Mimi.

They finally find refuge at the home of Mimi’s longtime friend Janine (Macha Grenon), a straight-arrow control-freak who eventually offers Mimi a job in her small interior design firm. Tensions soon boil over between the prissy, middle-class Janine and working-class hustler Mimi – aided in no small part by Marguerite’s influence on Janine’s normally obedient teenaged daughter, Gabrielle (Juliette Gosselin ) – although a resolution is finally reached when Janine enlists Mimi’s help in gaining revenge on her philandering husband, Charles (Vincent Graton).

Louise Archambault’s refreshingly frank and decidedly unsentimental debut feature weaves a rich tapestry of characters and subplots into an unexpectedly hard-hitting whole. A smart, tough and tightly-scripted slice-of-life tale that blends insightful drama with ironic comedy, it is ultimately concerned with the extent to which our parents’ behaviour dictates our own, and questions whether we’re ever really able to outrun our genetic destiny.

Shot with characteristic verve by acclaimed cinematographer André Turpin (Archambault’s husband) and bolstered by a strong script and outstanding performances, Familia won the Claude Jutra Genie Award for Best Direction of a First Feature Film and tied with Michael Mabott’s The Life and Hard Times of Guy Terrifico for the Best Canadian First Feature Film award at the 2005 Toronto International Film Festival®. It was also named one of Canada’s Top Ten of 2005 by an independent, national panel of filmmakers, programmers, journalists and industry professionals.