[This post has been largely re-worked]
The Alliance Française French Film Festival 2007 kicked off in
I have a strong proclivity for French cinema – I saw 27 in 2006, second in number only to films from the
What to do? I find with a bit of planning, research and consulting others, there are gems to be found. As far as planning, my priority is to see films that I know don't have a commercial release as I can always see those later. I know of at least three films (Hey Good Looking!, Priceless and The Singer) that open straight after the festival, so I'm in no rush to see these right now.
I'm also not a big fan of French comedy, as least not those that are released here. I find little to differentiate them from most
Out of the 25 films programmed for
For research, there’s always the invaluable IMDB, and word-of-mouth via blogs. This year I’ve also sought the opinion of a fellow blogger from
From my research, I’ve earmarked: Poison Friends, Premonition and The Right of the Weakest. The criteria: they’re all dramas, don’t have a commercial distribution and all have a reasonable average score on IMDB (around 7/10).
La faute à Fidel (Blame It On Fidel, Julie Gavras, 2006)
This is an interesting and well-made film. It depicts a 9 year old girl’s perspective of the changes in family life as her lawyer father and writer mother become involved in political activism. Set in the 1970’s, it starts against the backdrop of an uncle executed under Franco’s regime in
This is an interesting theme, and I have seen a number of films recently that connect to this theme:
The lighting and cinematography are lovely, the acting is consistently good all round and the film is worth a look.
Je vous trouve tres beau (You Are So Beautiful, Isabelle Mergault, 2005)
The subtitled title for this film was You Are So Handsome. In changing the name for the festival, the film is perhaps more marketable but a subtle meaning has been lost. When an elderly farmer’s wife dies and he seeks a mail-order bride from
Basically the film is a light-hearted romantic comedy and will probably be a crowd-pleaser. It’s the type of film I consider pretty much
Le lièvre de Vatanen (The Year of the Hare, Marc Rivière, 2006)
Up until about one third of the way into this film, I thought it was reasonable as a children’s film. You know, the type of show kids might watch on ABC TV when they get home after school where a character (usually an adolescent) goes on some adventure with a cutesy animal.
In this film, it’s an adult protagonist but I truly thought it was a cheesy kids film until there was some nudity obviously not intended for a young audience. Then my worst fears were realised and I knew the remaining hour would be tedious (and it was).
Not really a French film (it’s a Belgian, Bulgarian and French co-production, set in
As an aside, I’ve noticed in the past that Palace Cinemas seem to attract a middle-age, upper middle-class female audience that loves to chatter, even during films. There was a distractingly high volume of chatter during the ads before the film by this demographic at the Westgarth. It didn’t go away when the film started. I identified at least three groups of women all chatting and laughing away. I figured it’s got to die down but after five minutes it was still as enthusiastic and showed no sign of abating.
This is a dilemma: do we suffer in our silence, or do we speak out and then feel self-conscious to the detriment of our enjoyment of the film? Well, enough is enough, and I decided to say something and not allow myself to feel self-conscious. I called out loud and firmly, “for fuck’s sake, will you all just shut up!!”. It worked, and everyone enjoyed (or not) the rest of the film. I figured most people wouldn’t know who spoke up, but a couple of women approached me later and thanked me profusely for having the guts to say what everyone else wanted to. I appreciated that. This tends to support the idea that the French Film Festival is more a social event for certain demographics rather than a serious cultural event for cinephiles.