2010 French Film Festival

2010 poster: Fançaise2010 poster: Fançaise

36 vues du pic de saint-loup (Around a small mountain)
DIRECTED BY Jacques Rivette
France | 2009 | 84 mn 
CAST Jane Birkin, Sergio Castellito, Jacques Bonnaffé 

On the eve of the start of the summer tour, the owner and founder of a small circus dies suddenly. In an attempt to save the season, the troupe decides to call upon the owner's eldest daughter, Kate. Chance puts an Italian on her path - Vittorio. He becomes part of the life of the troupe—and the show. He will try to pierce Kate's secret: why did she leave the circus in the past, and why did she accept to come back… At the end of the tour they will go their separate ways. But which ways are those?

C’est pas moi, je le jure (It’s not me, I swear)
DIRECTED BY Philippe Falardeau
Canada | 2008 | 105 mn 
CAST Antoine l’Ecuyer, Catherine Faucher, Daniele Brière 

mer of ’68, Léon Doré comes close to hanging himself accidentally. His mother saves him at the last minute, as she did last summer in the pool and two years ago in the freezer. At ten, Leon has a host of problems and an overly fertile imagination. Mom and Dad are always fighting and those annoying neighbors get to spend the summer at the beach. And then, there’s Lea, the exasperating girl who’s always right about everything. When his mother leaves, Léon is prepared to do anything to kill the pain – destroy the neighbors’ house, become a professional liar and even, why not, fall in love with Lea. Together, they will overcome the pain of growing up when you feel abandoned. Based on the novels by Bruno Hébert, this humorous film is Falardeau’s third feature after La moitié gauche du frigo and Congorama.

Cliente (French Gigolo)
DIRECTED BY Josiane Balasko
France | 2008 | 105 mn 
CAST Nathallie Baye, Eric Caracava, Isabelle Carrée, Josiane Balasko 
Nathalie Baye stars as Judith, a chic, single woman in her 50s who regularly hires male escorts. A busy entrepreneur who’s not looking for love, she appreciates the no-fuss, no-muss quality of the arrangement. Marco is an escort whose earnings enable him to take care of his grandmother and support his wife, Fanny, who wants to save enough to open a hairdressing salon. But when Judith meets the charming, good-natured Marco, the easy efficiency of her past connections is replaced by something more complicated—especially when Fanny finds out the source of her husband’s income. The three of them are drawn into a romantic triangle and into uncharted territory in which sentiment must be reconciled with economics. Writer-director Josiane Balasko (ofFrench Twist fame) navigates this complex terrain with sensitivity and humor in a candid exploration of the relationship between love and desire, and between independence and dependence...

Donne-moi la main (Give me your hand)
DIRECTED BY Pascal-Alex Vincent 
France | 2008 | 80 mn
CAST Victor Carril, Alexandre Carril, Anaïs Demoustier 

Without telling their father, Quentin and Antoine, twin brothers, 18, decide to go to the funeral of their mother, a woman they never really knew. This trip across France will give them the chance to finally learn more about each other. As they hitchhike on small roads and small towns, they will start to realize both how similar and how different they truly are. Through a series of chance meetings, they reveal their inner lives, their sexuality, their dreams, and their dependency on each other and slowly move towards adulthood and a true understanding of each other. This film was presented at the 14th Paris Gay and Lesbian film festival and is Pascal-Alex Vincent’s first feature film.

Eldorado
DIRECTED BY Bouli Lanners
Belgium | 2008 | 84 mn 
CAST Bouli Lanners, Fabrice Adde 

Yvan and Elie are two loners who wander aimlessly through their lives. Yvan is a quick-tempered 40-year-old vintage car dealer while Elie is a young burglar and ex-junkie. One day Yvan catches Elie trying to rob him. Instead of beating him up, he becomes strangely attached to him and agrees to drive him home to his parents in his old Chevrolet. Yvan and Elie are both nostalgic about lost relationships, which is what leads them to undertake a bizarre and hilarious journey through a region that is as spectacular as it is crazy. The actor/director Bouli Lanners also appears as one of the voices in Panique au Village.

Flandres (Flanders)
DIRECTED BY Bruno Dumont
France | 2006 | 91 mn
CAST Samuel Boidin, Adélaïde Leroux, Henri Cretel

Soldiers leaving for a distant war with little chances of returning... Lovers separating but never truly embracing… The world of Bruno Dumont (Life of JesusL’humanité) is populated with incomplete and wounded characters, both on the home front and the war zone. Dumont creates an unnerving parallelism between the horrors of war and the slow disintegration of those left behind, all of them lacking a moral compass or any hope of a better future. The film won the Grand Prize at the 2006 Cannes Film festival.

Française
DIRECTED BY Souad El Bouhati
France | 2007 | 84 mn
CAST Hafzia Herzi, Farida Khelda, Maher Kamoun

Sofia, born in France to North African parents, lives a happy childhood in a French suburban city. Her father’s homesickness prompts a return to Morocco, where she finds herself on a farm. She is merely 10 and swears she will pass her baccalauréat in order to go back to France at 18 when she officially comes of age. But life always disrupts her plans… This beautiful first feature by Moroccan born Souad El Bouhati asks the right questions about national identity and cultural belonging at a time when the debate in France has been revived by the Minister of Immigration.

La belle personne (The beautiful person)
DIRECTED BY Christophe Honoré
France | 2008 | 90 m
CAST Louis Garrel, Léa Seydoux, Grégoire Leprince-Ringuet

La Belle Personne is a modern and very free version of La Princesse de Clèves, the classic novel written by Mme de La Fayette in 1678. The Princesse de Clèves is now a 16 year old girl called Junie, a mysterious student who arrives at a new school after the death of her mother. Introduced by her cousin, she will be rapidly wooed by many of his friends. Eventually she picks Otto, the calmest of the clan and the most sincere too. His love for Junie seems to be pure and deep, and he genuinely wants to take care of her. But she can't help falling in love with Mr. Nemours, her Italian teacher- a total charmer with a serious penchant for his students. Junie's mysterious nature also drives him crazy. Thus, the trio of Mme de la Fayette is recreated, and the plot is kept intact..

La fille du RER (The girl on the train)
DIRECTED BY André Téchiné
France | 2009 | 105 m
CAST Catherine Deneuve, Emilie Dequenne, Michel Blanc

Andre Téchiné's many admirers will not be disappointed by his latest offering. In the words of one of the main characters, the film is ostensibly "the story of a lie," but as always with this director, the pleasures reside in the fine detail rather than the broad sweep. Téchiné's starting point is a true story that provoked a controversy in France five years ago: a young woman claimed to have been the victim of an anti-Semitic attack on a Paris commuter train, creating a media uproar that drew in even the head of state. But in the end, the affair was revealed to be a hoax. Téchiné is less interested by the case itself than its impact on the lives of the family and friends surrounding the girl: her mother, her lover, and her best friends who have to choose sides.

La journée de la jupe (Skirt Day)
DIRECTED BY Jean-Paul Lillienfield
France | 2008 | 88 m
CAST Isabelle Adjani, Denis Poladylès, Jackie Berroyer

Sonia Bergerac, a French literature teacher in a “tough” school deals daily with insults, violence and a complete lack of discipline. She is also subjected to reprimands from the school principal because she wears a skirt in class. One day, a gun falls out of a student’s bag, and she suddenly takes her class hostage. The film marks the return of Isabelle Adjani (Queen MargotSubway) in a stunning performance after six-year absence from the screen. This controversial film also works methodically against last year’s “Entre les murs” by showing a rawer aspect of the French educational system. Adjani was named best French actress at the 2010 César ceremony.

La mémoire des anges (The memories of angels)
DIRECTED BY Luc Bourdon
Canada | 2007 | 104 mn 

Documentary, poetry and essay rolled into one, The Memories of Angels is a singular lesson in the history of Montreal, with its famous figures, symbolic places, and ordinary citizens. Without commentary, the film moves from the red light district to Jean Drapeau, the Jacques-Cartier market, department stores downtown, textile factories and the construction of Place Ville-Marie. We meet Geneviève Bujold, Oscar Peterson, Monique Mercure and Igor Stravinsky. We hear Raymond Lévesque, Jean Drapeau and René Lecavalier. A loving tribute to the vitality of Montreal and a joyous experience for all generations.

Le voyage aux Pyrénées
DIRECTED BY Jean-Marie Larrieu, Arnaud Larrieu
France | 2008 | 102 mn 
CAST Jean-Pierre Darrousin, Sabine Azéma 

Under the pseudonym “Mr. and Mrs. Go,” Alexandre Darou and Aurore Lalu, a famous acting couple, arrive in a remote valley of the Pyrénées Mountains in the middle of the night. Aurore is prone to fits of nymphomania and Alexandre imagines this to be the ideal place to keep her out of temptation’s way and return her to her old self. Sabine Azéma gives a brilliant performance in this film that will remind our audience of last year’s Peindre ou faire l’amour by the Larrieu Brothers.

Mauvaise foi (Bad faith)
DIRECTED BY Roschdy Zem
France | 2006 | 88 mn
CAST Cécile de France, Roschdy Zem, Pascal Elbé, Jean-Pierre Cassel 

Ismael and Clara are two thirty somethings happily enjoying their four-year romance. They are totally unconcerned that Ismael is Muslim and Clara is Jewish because both are non-practicing. But the issue of their inter-faith relationship rears its head when the couple learns that Clara is pregnant. As anticipated, after facing the daunting and difficult task of telling their parents about their relationship, neither family takes the news well. Zem’s directorial debut is a comedic look at a realistic account of the concerns that arise between two people of different faiths and their future as a family. After breaking the news to their families, both Clara and Ismael take a sudden interest in their faiths; but ultimately their love and connection prove stronger than either faith.

Panique au village (A town called Panic)
DIRECTED BY Stéphane Aubier, Vincent Patar
Belgium | 2009 | 75 mn 
VOICES Jeanne Balibar, Bouli Lanners, Vincent Patar, Stéphane Aubier 

Animated plastic toys like Cowboy, Indian and Horse have problems too. Cowboy and Indian's plan to surprise Horse with a homemade birthday gift backfires when they destroy his house instead. Surreal adventures take over as the trio travel to the center of the earth, trek across frozen tundra and discover a parallel underwater universe where pointy-headed (and dishonest!) creatures live. With panic a permanent feature of life in this papier mâché town, will Horse and his girlfriend ever be alone? A very funny film for all ages based on the TV series of the same name.

Polytechnique
DIRECTED BY Denis Villeneuve
Canada | 2009 | 77 mn
CAST Maxim Gaudette, Sébastien Huberdeau, Karine Vanasse 

Twenty years after celebrity seeking Marc Lepine entered Montreal’s École Polytechnique and shot 28 people--targeting and killing 14 women—director Villeneuve has attempted to recount the story on the big screen. With Polytechnique, Villeneuve recreates the actual shooting in detail, but tells the story through six fictional characters—three young women and three young men—all of whom are connected to the massacre. Villeneuve says he was fully aware making a film on this subject would be extremely controversial, but won over skeptics after committing to a year of research.

Ricky
DIRECTED BY François Ozon
France | 2009 | 90 m
CAST Alexandra Lamy, Sergi Lopez, Mélusine Mayance

The latest film from François Ozon is a daring, surprising work of magical realism. A working-class family living on the outskirts of Paris gets a shock when they discover that their newborn son has large bruises on his back. The husband is accused, and the couple falls apart. Ozon deftly mixes gritty drama and fantasy to create an alternately stark, poignant, and humorous film about modern family dynamics. The film is carried by Alexandra Lamy (Un gars, Une fille) and Sergi Lopez (Pan’s LabyrinthPeindre ou faire l’amour).

Un prophète (a prophet)
DIRECTED BY Jacques Audiard
France | 2009 | 155 mn 
CAST Tahar Rahim, Niels Arestrup, Abel Bencherif 

Sentenced to jail for six years, Malik does not know how to read or write. He is a lost 19 year old trying to survive the hell of prison. To survive, he has to make alliances. Upon his arrival, he falls under the spell of a group of Corsican Mafiosi who control his life inside but also outside during the few times he is allowed a furlough. Slowly, Malik begins to understand the game he has to play to survive. This brilliant film by Jacques Audiard (The Beat That My Heart Skipped) won the Grand Prize at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival. A tough film not to be missed… Named best film, best actor, best director, best sets, best cinematography and best editing at the 2010 French Césars

Welcome
DIRECTED BY Philippe Lioret
France | 2008 | 110 mn 
CAST Vincent Lindon, Fyat Ayverdi, Audrey Dana 

Bilal, a 17-year-old Kurdish youth, has traveled through the Middle East and Europe to join his girlfriend, who has recently emigrated to England with her family. But his journey comes to an abrupt end when he is stopped on the French side of the Channel. Having decided to swim across, Bilal goes to the local swimming pool to train. There he meets Simon, a swimming instructor in the midst of a divorce. To impress his wife and win back her heart, Simon decides to risk everything by taking Bilal under his wing. This film describes the daily struggles of ordinary French citizens who defy French authorities by helping illegal immigrants and portrays with brutal honesty the lives of the refugees trying to reach the UK from France.