French Film Festival expands horizons

Largest edition to feature highlights including Cézanne and Me.

by Amber Wilkinson

Cezanne Et Moi
Cezanne Et Moi
The biggest explosion of French and francophone cinema in the UK will hit cinemas in November as part of a major expansion of the French Film Festival UK, which celebrates its 24th edition from November 3 to December 1.

The organisers today announced preliminary plans with a selection that embraces contemporary titles, classics, animation, documentary, shorts and a specially curated programme for young audiences.

The festival will take place in major cities (among them Newcastle, Leeds, London, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Cardiff, Bristol and Belfast) as well as smaller towns from Kirkcaldy to Hereford, Hebden Bridge, Chichester and Richmond (Yorkshire) and many others. In London the Festival venues are the Ciné Lumière (South Kensington), the Regent Street Cinema, and the Barbican. Overall more than 30 different locations will be involved.

Highlights include Cézanne And Me (Cézanne Et Moi) with Guillaume Gallienne and Guillaume Canet (due to open in France on 21 September) about the friendship between the artist and Emile Zola. Director Danièle Thompson is expected to attend the film’s UK premiere as well as for a restored version of the Gallic mega hit from the Sixties, Don’t Look Now We’re Being Shot At (La Grande Vadrouille), which she adapted with her late father Gérard Oury. Belgian actor/director Bouli Lanners will present his gothic thriller The First, The Last (Les Premiers, les derniers) while the banned home-grown terrorism thriller Made in France also joins the line-up.

Other films due to be widely screened are Roschdy Zem’s Monsieur Chocolat (about the first black artist of the French stage); Alain Guiraudie’s Stay Vertical; Cannes Camera d’Or winner Divines by Houda Benyamina; Directors’ Fortnight opener Tour de France with Gérard Depardieu and Bertrand Tavernier’s A Journey Through French Cinema. Paying homage to France’s rich cinematic heritage the Festival has secured screenings of the restored version of Marcel Pagnol’s Marseilles Trilogy (Marius, Fanny and César), accompanied by Pagnol’s grandson Nicolas Pagnol. And to mark next year’s 70th anniversary of the Cannes Film Festival The Battle of the Rails by René Clément will be shown – it scooped the Jury Prize and Best Director award in 1946.

The veteran Jean-Pierre Mocky (theatre and film star from the 1940s turned director) will be in the limelight for a special focus including his black comedy Kill The Referee (A mort l’arbitre). Although he is in some sense a kindred spirit to the directors of the New Wave, Mocky is rarely associated with that movement by critics or public.

Festival director Richard Mowe said: “While the UK post-Referendum is about to become less European we are delighted to celebrate the cinematic culture of our French-speaking neighbours at more cinemas than ever through the UK.”

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