FOR ITS 23rd year, the French Film Festival is serving 21 films with the aim to “embody the richness and depth of French society through the creativity of French filmmakers.” Among the critically acclaimed films to be shown are Olivier Assayas’ Personal Shopper (2016), which competed in the official competition of the Cannes Film Festival that same year; Cedric Kahn’s Le Priere (2018), which won Anthony Bajon the Silver Bear for Best Actor in the 2018 Berlin International Film Festival; and the jazz biopic Django (2016) by Etienne Comar, which served as the opening film of the 2017 Berlin International Film Festival.
“Among the aims of French cultural diplomacy is to promote cultural diversity through cinema. In the Philippines, the French Film Festival has been giving the Filipino public a glimpse of French culture and society for 23 years. It provides an alternative to the commercial programming of movie theaters, thereby promoting this diversity to the local audience,” said French Ambassador Nicolas Galey in a press release.
The film festival will run from June 6 to 12 in the Greenbelt 3 cinemas in Makati City, the Bonifacio High Street Cinemas in Taguig City, and in UP Town Center Cinemas in Quezon City. Tickets are priced at P150.
Mr. Galey added that this is the first time the festival will be brought to Visayas and Mindanao — Cebu and Davao, particularly — though no official screening schedules have been announced.
The lineup also include films where art serves as the backdrop in telling tales of passion and relationships as in Cezanne et moi (2016) by Daniele Thompson which chronicles the love between French artist Paul Cezanne and Emile Zola, while Polina, danser sa vie (2016) by Angelin Preljocaj and Valérie Müller-Preljocaj tells of the romance between a Russian ballerina and a French dancer, and Yves Saint Laurent (2014) by Jalil Lespert, which is about the relationship between the eponymous fashion icon and his business partner and lover, Pierre Bergé.
Also in the lineup are dramas such as Orpheline (2016) by Arnaud des Pallières which tells of the stories of four women — a country girl, a teenage runaway, a young woman who moved to Paris, and an adult woman who thought she was safe from her past; and Une Vie (2015) by Stéphane Brizé, a story adapted from Guy de Maupassant’s classic work of the same name.
For those who want more lighthearted fare, the festival is serving up comedies such as Epouse-moi mon pote (2017) by Tarek Boudali, about a Moroccan man who suddenly finds himself become an illegal immigrant in France and decides to marry his best friend so he can stay in the country; Rock ‘n Roll (2017) by Guillaume Canet, about a middle-aged man who tries to keep his life and love fresh by changing absolutely everything; and Seuls (2014) by David Moreau, about a couple of teenagers grappling with the fact that their city suddenly becomes deserted.
Also in the lineup are Louise en hiver (2016) by Jean-François Laguionie, an animated film about an old lady trying to survive the oncoming winter in a deserted seaside town; and Voyage à travers le cinémafrançais (2017) by Bertrand Tavernier, a documentary and “an act of gratitude to all the filmmakers, scriptwriters, actors, and musicians who suddenly appeared in my life,” said the director in the film’s synopsis.
The film festival’s premiere night will see the screening of the fifth installment of Franck Gastambide’s Taxi (2018), which follows the series lead character, a Parisian cop (and all-around great driver) Sylvain Marot, as he works with probably one of the worst drivers in Marseille on a mission to stop Italian jewelry thieves in a Ferrari.
The festival also pays tribute to the works of French filmmaker Jean-Pierre Melville, considered as the Father of French New Wave and film noir, who inspired a new generation of filmmakers including Quentin Tarantino and William Friedkin.
The Melville Centennial Retrospective will include a number of his works: 24 heures dans la vie d’un clown (1947), an 18-minute comedy; Le Silence de la mer (1948), about German-occupied France and an idealistic German officer assigned to a small town in France; Léon Morin Prêtre (1961), about a sexually frustrated communist widow who meets a young priest who tries steering her onto the right path; and Le Cercle rouge (1970), about an aristocratic thief, who, upon being released from prison, decides to steal from his mob boss and initiate a jewel heist.
And in homage to Philippine cinema, the festival will be screening three Filipino films: Anino (2000) by Raymond Red, which tells of a hungry and penniless church photographer and the people he meets in the shadows of the city; Himpapawid (2009), also by Raymond Red, which tells of a desperate, simple man from the countryside trying to survive in Manila; and Bagahe (2017) by Zig Dulay, about an OFW who is suspected to have thrown a newborn child into an airport toilet trash bin. The last film won the top prize at the Vesoul International Film Festival of Asian Cinema held in February.
The 23rd French Film Festival runs from June 6-12 at selected cinemas in the metro. For the complete screening schedule, visit www.ph.ambafrance.org or the Facebook page of the French Embassy (FrenchEmbassyManila). Tickets are priced at P150 and can be bought online via sureseats.com.
For inquiries, contact the Embassy of France to the Philippines at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0966-389-9119. — ZBC