Bienvenue to the 27th French Film Festival UK 2019: the Crème de la Crème of new and classic movies

The 27th edition of La Fete du Cinema UK officially kicks off on Friday 1st November at the Glasgow Film Theatre at the start of an enticing cultural feast offering 62 films with 240 screenings around 38 independent cinemas over the next 45 days.

This is a truly ambitious Movie Roadshow travelling far and wide from Glasgow and Edinburgh, Dundee and Dunoon to Skye and Shetland, Birmingham and Bristol, Cambridge and Chichester to London and Belfast as well as two dozen other cities and towns across the UK.

The programme is breathtaking in its diversity from new releases to vintage classics with drama, comedy, romance, animation, shorts and documentaries. Guest actors, directors and writers will give a talk at selected screenings.

Richard Mowe, Festival Director and Co-Founder, commented: “We are thrilled to have one of the most varied and vibrant programmes ever at this year’s French Film Festival … (to) illustrate that culture and human understanding and cooperation ignores current political vagaries and knows no boundaries.”

The Festival was first launched in December 1992 in Edinburgh to showcase a cultural element to the Summit of the European Council. It has matured like a rich, fruity Burgundy since then and this year offers a handpicked, crème de la crème of French-language cinema from France, Belgium, Switzerland, Quebec and Francophone Africa.

The Panorama section features new titles with well known names from French cinema still in their prime. Highly recommended is Le Brio a bittersweet narrative set in Paris starring Daniel Auteuil as Professor Pierre Mazard who is given the tricky task of tutoring Neila, a rather scatty, stubborn French-Arabian law student to take part in a national debating contest.

Le Brio with Daniel Auteuil and Camelia Jordana

He explains that the truth doesn’t matter – it’s about being right. As long as your argumentation is on point, you are able to convince people.  Their clash of personality and background is akin to Professor Higgins trying to teach Eliza Doolittle to become an upper class young lady.  The battle of intellectual wits and growing relationship between Pierre and Neila is a joy to observe, oozing satirical wit and philosophical wisdom.

Fete de Famille with Catherine Deneuve, by actor/writer/director Cedric Kahn

Grande dame Catherine Deneuve, now aged 76, is renowned for a long career from Belle de Jour to 8 Femmes. She leads the cast in Fete de Famille, a comedy with a dramatic twist, set around the mother’s 70th birthday celebrated by a large gathering of children and grandchildren.

Deux Moi (Somewhere, Somewhere) is a Parisian romance in which two thirty year olds are both looking for love in opposite directions.  The plot reads like a Gallic version of Serendipity/When Harry Met Sally for 2019.

The Discovery genre introduces new directors making a name for themselves. Launching the FFF at Edinburgh Filmhouse on 8th November is La Belle Epoque by actor/writer Nichols Bedos, (his second movie).  Daniel Auteuil plays Victor, disillusioned with life and marriage,  is given the chance to take a fantasy time travel trip in which he goes back 40 years to experience a most memorable week.

La Belle Epoque with Daniel Auteuil directed by Nicolas Bedos

The generation gap is exposed in a quirky, classy comedy, Alice et Le Maire in which Alice, a bright young academic tries to update the old fashioned ideals of the Mayor of Lyon. A crime thriller is the essence of drama and here we have Une Intime Conviction,  a debut feature by Antoine Raimbaul. The plot surrounds the murder trial of Jacques Viguier, accused of killing his wife in 2000. With little evidence, will he ever be convicted.?

Une Intime Conviction (Laurent Lucas & Olivier Gourmet) – Courtroom drama

Paris has been the fashion capital of the Western world for centuries, Haute Couture from Chanel to Dior.  Two Documentaries take a look behind the scenes of the catwalk.  Jean Paul Gaultier, Freak and Chic, unveils the crazy creative costumes by the designer known as the enfant terrible of punk fashion.

Olivier Meyrou began filming his documentary, Yves Saint Laurent, the Last Collections in 1999, before his fashion house was sold to Gucci.  This reveals the story of the legendary Yves, “the man, the myth, the marque”.  Due to legal reasons, this film was only released in 2018.

Yves Saint Laurent, the legendary fashion designer, 1936 – 2008

A festival is not a festival without a touch of nostalgia. Under Classics is a screening of The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1956), with Gind Lollobrigida, Anthony Quinn, Alain Cuny and Robert Hirsch, directed by Jean Delannoy.

….theatrical magic, singing, the acting, the lighting, set design, a masterpiece of the performing arts.”

La Piscine was an instant box office hit in 1969 and now restored for its 50th anniversary.  Here are Alain Delon and Romy Schneider as glamorous lovers on vacation in St. Tropez, when a teenage girl comes to stay, played by a young Jane Birkin: sun, sea and sex with dark shadows lurking beneath the gloss and glamour.    With a 100% audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes, this is a must-see movie.

At the London Regent Street Cinema on Sunday 8 December is the chance to see Nana by Jean Renoir, a silent movie from 1926, based on the Emile Zola novel. It’s the story of the vivacious and beautiful Nana (Catherine Hessling, Renoir’s wife)  who transforms from failed actress to courtesan, using her allure to entice men. Expect melodrama, sumptuous sets and lavish costumes.  The Prima Vista Quartet will play an accompanying score by one of its musicians, Baudime Jam.

Nana (1926) with Catherine Hessling, the wife of the film’s director Jean Renoir

For those who like something short and sweet, there’s a choice of mini movies of between 5 and 18 minutes, covering such topics as a hibernating bear, rehearsals for Mahler’s 9th at Paris Opera and a Tunisian Football club.  The French Film Festival UK is also collaborating with the Mobile Film Festival of Paris. “One Minute, One Mobile, One Film” Each screening will be preceded by a 60 second film, shot on a mobile phone or tablet.

Animation too such as Yellowbird about a flock of migratory birds from Paris to Africa, a grand, bizarre voyage via, it seems, Netherlands and Greenland.

Yellowbird (Gus petit oiseau grand voyage) – directed by Christian de Vita

This is just a quick glance through the colourful brochure which covers every genre and cinematic entertainment for all ages and cultural tastes.  The selection of cinemas is wonderful – do visit the vintage-styled Picturehouse where you will sit in plush red velvet armchairs and next door a café-bar for movie-themed cocktails, beers, nibbles and bites. The Picturehouse is at the Scotsman Hotel, Edinburgh.

The luxurious, vintage-styled Picturehouse at the Scotsman Hotel, Edinburgh

Also French movies at Birks Cinema, Aberfeldy, Byre Theatre St. Andrews, Cine Lumiere London, and a host of venues nationwide so sure to be one near you.

Bienvenue – Bon Festival a tous!

The 27th edition of the French Film Festival UK runs 1 November to 15 December. For the full programme, venues and booking information visit

Pick up a brochure around all the FFF cinemas.


Nana (1926) Jean Renoir – screening with live music by Prima Vista Quartet & piano


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About vivdevlin

I am an international travel writer, specialising in luxury travel, hotels, restaurants, city guides, cruises, islands, train and literary-inspired journeys. I review dance and theatre, Arts Festivals and love the visual arts. I have just experienced an epic voyage, circumnavigating the globe, following in the wake of Captain Cook, Mark Twain and Robert Louis Stevenson.

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