Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

AFRICA NEWS

Rwandan singer amongst terror plot suspects

Read more

DEBATE

What's Putin's Plan? Kiev Accuses Russia of Terrorism

Read more

FOCUS

Campaigning against Bouteflika's re-election... in France

Read more

WEB NEWS

Chile: Online mobilization to help Valparaiso fire victims

Read more

ENCORE!

Art, sex, money, memory and manga

Read more

MIDDLE EAST MATTERS

Spat over Iran's UN ambassador hampers thawing relations with US

Read more

FOCUS

China trade deal: Is Taiwan's identity under threat?

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

'Call it a caretaker government'

Read more

DEBATE

Nigeria's Battles

Read more

  • Frantic search for survivors of sunken South Korea ferry

    Read more

  • Crunch talks on Ukraine in Geneva

    Read more

  • Algeria heads to the polls: ‘This election has nothing to do with us’

    Read more

  • Man executed in Texas for 2002 triple murder

    Read more

  • Scandal-hit French doctor Jacques Servier dies at 92

    Read more

  • Belgian head of wildlife reserve shot in DR Congo

    Read more

  • Stagehand of God? Maradona's legendary goal inspires a play

    Read more

  • US rolls out red carpet for French critic of capitalism

    Read more

  • N. Korea not amused by London hair salon's Kim Jong-un ad

    Read more

  • Real Madrid beat old foes Barcelona to lift Copa del Rey

    Read more

  • France's new PM targets welfare in drive to cut spending

    Read more

  • Campaigning against Bouteflika's re-election... in France

    Read more

  • Brazil club Mineiro cancel Anelka signing after no-show

    Read more

  • Syria 'torture' photos silence UN Security Council members

    Read more

  • Paris laboratory loses deadly SARS virus samples

    Read more

  • More than 100 schoolgirls kidnapped in northeast Nigeria

    Read more

  • New York police disband unit targeting Muslims

    Read more

  • 'Miracle girl' healthy after seven-organ transplant in Paris

    Read more

  • Paris police memo calling for Roma eviction ‘rectified’

    Read more

  • Burgundy digs into France's bureaucratic 'mille-feuille'

    Read more

  • French court drops ‘hate speech’ case against Bob Dylan

    Read more

  • Algeria rights crackdown slammed ahead of election

    Read more

  • Iraq closes notorious Abu Ghraib jail over security fears

    Read more

  • In ‘Tom at the Farm’, Xavier Dolan blends Hitchcock and homoeroticism

    Read more

Culture

French cinema prepares to seduce US audiences online

© uniFrance

Text by Jon FROSCH

Latest update : 2014-01-10

For US film buffs curious about French cinema beyond buzzed-about works like "Blue is the Warmest Colour", help is on the way.

The fourth edition of myFrenchFilmFestival, an online event showcasing French movies that, for the most part, have yet to secure state-side distribution, will be available to US Internet users for one month starting January 17.

A reasonably priced 22-dollar fee offers access to 10 English-subtitled feature-length films, as well as 10 shorts, made by directors belonging to what the festival is touting as “a new generation of French filmmakers”.

Though the ideal format for movie viewing of any kind remains the big screen, myFrenchFilmFestival is a worthwhile endeavour – if not necessarily for the quality of its selections, then for the accurate snapshot it offers of contemporary French film.

After all, French cinema, in France at least, doesn’t begin and end with the heavyweights – Kechiche, Ozon, Carax, Resnais, Denis, Audiard, Téchiné and a few others -- frequently picked for the “big 3” European film festivals (Cannes, Venice and Berlin). There are also scores of younger, less tested directors who benefit from a much debated system that generously subsidises France’s filmmakers. The result is a glut of weekly French releases that tend to range from poor to pretty good, often hovering somewhere between so-so and “so what?”.

A medical mystery, a fizzy detective tale and an ode to Godard

At least one of the selections in this year’s edition of myFrenchFilmFestival is a slight cut above that: “Augustine”, Alice Winokur’s atmospheric, strongly acted drama about 19th century neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot (Vincent Lindon) and the complicated relationship he forges with a patient suffering from “hysteria” (played by French pop star Soko). It is, unsurprisingly, the only film in the line-up to have had a run – albeit a limited one – in US movie theatres.

Both coolly detached and powered by an unsettling erotic charge, “Augustine” finds its tonal opposite in one of the more purely entertaining selections, “Pauline Détective”. A delectably silly slice of escapism from Marc Fitoussi, this comedy about a Parisian magazine editor who takes it upon herself to investigate a series of murders on the Italian seaside is essentially a vehicle for its very funny leading lady, Sandrine Kiberlain (who will grace some US screens later this year playing a different kind of French heroine, Simone de Beauvoir, in Martin Provost’s “Violette”).

Some of the films picked for this year’s myFrenchFilmFestival come with impressive pedigrees. Don’t be fooled. Louis-Do de Lencquesaing’s “In a Rush” and Sandrine Bonnaire’s “Maddened by His Absence” screened in the prestigious Critics’ Week sidebar at Cannes in 2012, but work through well-worn themes of modern French cinema – adultery, grief, the chain-smoking, champagne-swilling Parisian bourgeoisie – with scant attention to form or narrative nuance. These mopey, navel-gazing melodramas are precisely the kind of films French directors should refrain from making.

Another movie that garnered positive buzz at Cannes (in the Directors’ Fortnight category), is Antonin Peretjako’s “The Rendez-Vous of Déjà-Vu”, a dizzily paced comic romp that grows increasingly exhausting the more it tries to replicate the energy of director Jean-Luc Godard’s anarchic road movies. One “Pierrot le Fou” was enough, thanks.

Reflecting France’s diversity

Much more pleasing is a lower-key selection, François Pirot’s “Mobile Home”, in which two twentysomethings (the well-matched Arthur Dupont and Guillaume Gouix) rebel against the creeping pressures of adulthood by hitting the road in a camper van. Nothing revolutionary transpires, but Pirot observes his pair of lost souls with tenderness and humour, and the film resonates as a portrait of old friends whose experiment in male bonding gradually makes them realise how much they’ve drifted apart. (Skip the other bromance picked for this year’s slate, Edouard Deluc’s stale, cliché-ridden “Welcome to Argentina”).

For animation fans, there’s Jean-Christophe Dessaint’s lovely “The Day of the Crows”, which tells a surprisingly complex story revolving around a child raised in the woods by a glowering, unloving giant of a father. Chief among the pleasures afforded by the film is the warm simplicity of the hand-drawn images, a rarity in this era of sophisticated computer animation.

Those who complain, rightly, that French cinema too infrequently reflects France’s ethnic and cultural diversity may be interested by Samuel Collardey’s “Little Lion” and Namir Abdel Messeeh”s “The Virgin, the Copts and Me”. The former is a by-the-numbers, mildly absorbing sports drama, in which a football prodigy from a village in Senegal struggles to achieve his dream of going pro in France. The latter is a charming, if meandering documentary that finds the Egyptian-born, Paris-raised director heading to Egypt to investigate reported appearances of the Virgin Mary. While he’s at it, he explores, in fits and starts, the relationship between the country’s Christian and Muslim communities, his own family history and the nature of the filmmaking process itself.

MyFrenchFilmFestival is organised by UniFrance Films, a group that works with the French Ministry of Culture to promote French cinema abroad.

The festival will be accessible in the US on myFrenchFilmFestival.com, iTunes and TV5 Monde’s Cinema on Demand.
 

Date created : 2014-01-10

  • CINEMA

    Campion on the Croisette: Is Cannes no longer a man's world?

    Read more

  • CINEMA

    'Omar', 'The Great Beauty' make foreign-language Oscar short list

    Read more

  • CINEMA

    From lesbian love to starving artists, the best films of 2013

    Read more

Comments

COMMENT(S)