It's easy to make a heroic character lovable and the bad guy despicable, but it's much more of an accomplishment to turn a fallible, sweaty, chubby guy with real flaws, including a seriously questionable moral compass, into a sympathetic character. , a charmer of a movie directed by Philippe Falardeau manages to do just that. Congorama is a lovely tale about a man looking for his origins (in French Canada) and the myriad ways in which lives are interconnected.

We missed the first SFIFF showing of Congorama last week but made it to the Kabuki in time for the Q&A with the director. The movie showed on two screens so the Q&A crowd was funneled into a third theatre. Maybe it was a self-selecting group of folks who chose to ask questions, but not only was there a lot of French flying around, but also inside jokes about the Congo, Belgium, Canada and the 1967 World Expo.

Hmmmm, that sounded a little random to us and at first we weren't so intrigued, but the director then told a story about how his Aunt Helene started having headaches in her late 30s. They discovered a piece of glass behind her eye from a car accident she was in way back when she was 16. This was the inspiration for what happens to the main character, Michel, in the movie. He also said the emu on set started spontaneously following the blocking in the script with very little wrangling. This had us intrigued too.

This is what we love about film festivals. So far we've seen Congorama and Heavenly Kings and both are movies we loved but probably would have missed if it weren't for the SF International.