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Homegrown films Red Jacket and My Son the Pornographer win praise from pros

To describe the mood at Friday's sold-out screening of The Red Jacket and Peter C. Campbell's My Son the Pornographer and its after-party as euphoric is putting it mildly. The Bard and Banker pub was abuzz with praise for the homegrown films.

To describe the mood at Friday's sold-out screening of The Red Jacket and Peter C. Campbell's My Son the Pornographer and its after-party as euphoric is putting it mildly. The Bard and Banker pub was abuzz with praise for the homegrown films.

"I really wanted to see My Son the Pornographer," lamented Jim Donovan, the Montreal filmmaker who flew in with Romano Orzari, star of 3 Saisons, his provocative Quebec ensemble piece that repeats at 3:30 today at the Odeon. He watched Slumdogs instead.

Campbell and Art Holbrook were deluged with praise from appreciative festivalgoers, some sharing tales of their own past sexual abuse. A weary Holbrook, the local filmmaker whose moving reunion with his son who worked in Prague's porn industry years after being sexually abused by a stranger is documented in the film, imparted good news on his way out. Their film, he told us, makes its broadcast premiere Tuesday at 10 p.m. on CBC Newsworld's The Lens.

A hilarious highlight in Donovan's 3 Saisons, incidentally, is when Sasha (Caroline Neron), a gorgeous Montreal actress shooting a yogurt commercial unleashes an orgasmic response to a spoonful of it after several takes, to her director's delight.

Donovan, best known for his 2003 Montreal club culture flick Pure, nails the scene. And no wonder: The Gemini-nominated producer got his start shooting commercials for clients such as Budweiser, Ford and Via Rail before making films.

His old friend Orzari, who plays a womanizing executive in the film, was a babe magnet here this weekend. It's not surprising when you consider he's often compared to Armand Assante, whose younger self he almost played in The Mambo Kings.

The New Yorker of Italian descent got used to such adulation during what he jokingly calls his "George Clooney period" in the late 1990s when he played gangster Nicky Balsamo in the 13-part Quebec crime series Omerta, a precursor to The Sopranos.

"People would stop me and say, 'What are you doing in Wal-Mart?'" he recalls, laughing. "I'd say, "I'm looking for diapers.'"

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THREE TO SEE: Today is your last chance to catch part of a lineup that has been particularly impressive and eclectic this year. You can find out who won what at the End of Festival bash, 9 p.m. at the Bard and Banker.

Not for the faint of heart because of its graphic sex and violence, 3 Saisons is worth checking out.

Another good bet -- although it gets off to an awfully tedious start is Dean Spanley. Based on the book by Lord Dunsany, this whimsical tale revolving around a dog reincarnated as an eccentric, liquor-loving clergyman is highlighted by wonderfully droll dialogue and first-rate performances. The scene-stealer is Peter O'Toole as a curmudgeonly contrarian.

JVCD, Mabrouk El Mechri's alternately jokey and sadly ironic meta-movie featuring Jean-Claude Van Damme shows -- yes! -- the "Muscles from Brussels" can act!