La Fete du Cinema: The 22nd French Film Festival, 7 November to 7 December, 2014
The birth of cinema is credited to two Frenchmen, Auguste and Louis Lumière who, in 1895, filed a patent for their Cinématographe, although they saw it as just a passing fad. “The cinema is an invention without a future,” said Louis Lumière.
Nevertheless, France has continued to be a pioneering movie-making nation and its output today is surpassed only by India and the United States. Heavily subsidised by the State, French cinema is recognised the world over for its quality, sophistication and creative diversity.
How fortunate we are that each year in November, La Fete Du Cinema offers an inspiring cultural collection of French movies. Curated with passion and artistic flair by the Co-founder – Director, Richard Mowe and Ilona Morison, (deputy director), the popular and ever- growing Festival now visits nearly a dozen towns and cities across Scotland and UK.
Romance, drama, comedy, animation, politics, documentary and shorts cover every style, storyline and setting, from premieres to vintage classics. This feature can only cover a mini selection of the numerous films and special events – for the full Festival programme see website below.
Highlights picked from the Cannes Film Festival this year include 9 Month Stretch, described as a black comedy Court-room caper; this won the best actress Cesar for Sandrine Kimberlain.
Nominated at Cannes for Best Film is Turning Tide, about a yachtsman facing the challenge and dangers of a solo sailing race.
Based on the 1964 novel by Georges (Maigret) Simeonon, The Blue Room follows the liaisons dangereuses between a vain, womanising married man and his manipulative mistress who meet for afternoon encounters in the blue room at the Hôtel des Voyageurs.
But their passionate affair leads to a nightmare of tragic consequences. Directed by and starring Mathieu Amalric (Quantum of Solace, Grand Budapest Hotel), this vintage Simenon tale is sure to be an atmospheric, psychological thriller.
On a lighter note, Gazelles, written and directed by Mona Achache is a kind of French Bridget Jones’ romantic comedy about a a thirty-something single girl. Marie and Eric are childhood sweethearts and after 14 years together are about to buy their first apartment when Marie has second thoughts ….. “ An ode to womanhood and freedom, Gazelles is a joyous but realistic girl-power statement.”
The great news is that both Mona Achache and leading actress Camille Chamoux (Marie) will be appearing at the screenings of Gazelles in London, Glasgow and Edinburgh.
A key feature of the Festival is the added bonus of Guest Artistes taking part in Q&A sessions following the films which always add a fresh and illuminating dimension.
In several UK cities, Director Lionel Baier will introduce his film Longwave, an entertaining road movie about the 1974 Carnation revolution in Portugal. Marie’s Story relates the true story of a blind and deaf girl and a caring young nun and the film’s Director Jean-Pierre Ameris will also be visiting the Festival.
Location, location, location: during the Festival you can take a virtual journey across France – Paris, Provence, Normandy, French Riviera, Marseille, and from West Africa to Argentina.
The centenary of the First World War is commemorated, ranging from Wooden Crosses, a moving 1931 anti war film, to Life and Nothing But, (Bertrand Tavernier) which illustrates the aftermath of the Great War through the heartache of thousands of grieving mothers and widows. It won best Foreign film at the Baftas, 1989.
The Festival features such acclaimed actors as Catherine Deneuve, Isabelle Huppert and Jean Reno, with directors including Jean-Luc Godard, Anne Villaceque and the late Alain Resnais.
A master of New Wave cinema, Resnais moved from documentaries to musicals and sci-fi, inspired by classic drama, pop culture and farce. As a tribute, there’s a screening of Hiroshima Mon Amour (1959), a fictional love story set between post-war Japan and France which won the International Critics prize at Cannes. “A meditation on memory and heartbreak, the opening montage of lovers’ entwined hands is breathtaking even today—in 1959 it was truly, elevating cinema.”
Resnais died aged 91 earlier this year – with impeccable timing – following the premiere of his film, Life of Riley at the Berlin Film Festival. Based on a typical melancholic comedy of manners by English playwright, Alan Ayckbourn, the plot illustrates problems in relationships, love and marriage.
Children’s entertainment too – a new version of Belle & Sebastien based on the enchanting TV series, and an animated fairy tale, Wolfy, the Incredible Secret about a young wolf and a rabbit. Check out the programme for details of L’Ecole du cinema and the schools programme at selected cinemas taking part in the FFF.
For those in or around London, a very special CineConcert will take place on 9 November at the Barbican. Studies on Paris, a black and white silent documentary from 1928 is a stunning cinematic portrait of the city by Andre Sauvage. To accompany the screening, the Prima Vista Quartet will perform the film score, Studies on Paris, composed by Baudime Jam.
A vital and valuable section of the French Film Festival is to promote new, young talent. Short Cuts will highlight the work of seven directors representing diverse cinematic styles.
Mr Hublot won an Oscar for Best Animated Short. It sounds like a charming, if rather surreal animation about an eccentric house proud man and his new pet dog.
Edinburgh based film-maker, Max Markus has a great interest in history, legends and magical realism. His new film Looking Glass, set in late 19th century France, is a five minute atmospheric Gothic drama, artistically inspired by the romanticism and sensual beauty of Pre-Raphaelite portraits.
Markus has also created the fast paced and enticing Festival Trailer – a tasty amuse bouche to preview some of the cinematic treats over the next month. Click on the Link below
I think the Lumiere brothers would be impressed with the line-up for the French Film Festival 2014!
French Film Festival 7 November to 7 December, 2014.
Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Dundee, Inverness, Kirkcaldy, London, Cambridge, Newcastle, Warwick, York.
The FFF programme, information on films, venues and tickets – see www.frenchfilmfestival.org.uk
Festival Trailer for a sneak preview ..
Programmes available now in participating cinemas.