French Film Festival unveils final line-up

Sylvain Chomet returns with live action debut.

by Amber Wilkinson

Hélène Vincent, Guillaume Gouix, and Bernadette Lafont in Attila Marcel
Hélène Vincent, Guillaume Gouix, and Bernadette Lafont in Attila Marcel
French filmmaker Sylvain Chomet will return to the French Film Festival UK this year with his first full foray into live action Attila Marcel, which has been selected as the opening gala film.

Chomet - who spent five years in Scotland making the animated hit The Illusionist - will attend the film's premieres in London, Edinburgh and Glasgow to help kick off the 21st edition of the UK touring event that was founded in Scotland. He expects to be accompanied by his producer Claudie Ossard who has been responsible for some of France’s biggest hits of recent decades, including Amelie, Delicatessen and In The House.

The title of Attila Marcel comes from a song Chomet wrote for his first big hit Belleville Rendez-vous. He said: “I had the title and I knew it was going to be a film but at that time I didn’t know if it would be an animated film or a live-action film. When I started to write the script, however, I knew it was definitely going to be live action. I found it was quite enjoyable to write dialogue for real actors.”

Chomet evokes memories of Buster Keaton and Jacques Tati in the story of Paul, a young man who has not spoken since being a toddler when both is parents died. He was raised by two doting eccentric aunts who want him to be a pianist. He finds that repressed childhood memories are unleashed and he has the most amazing fantasies after being given a potion by an upstairs neighbour.

The director explained: “I’ve always made animation as if it was a live-action film. I try to make it look almost real, the way it’s edited is not really like an animated film,” he said. “I try to have continuity in between the shots like live action.

“I was always thinking of live action but came to live action through animation. That was a way for me to get into live action. Animation is film-making, it’s the same thing. And you really train as a director when you do animation. You get the eye, the sense of composition and timing.”

Director and co-founder of the Festival Richard Mowe said: “We are delighted that Sylvain who continues as patron of the event, will come back with such a wonderful gift. When we saw him at the ceremony for his honorary degree he promised we would have the premiere of his new film – and he has been as good as his word. We are hosting a gala party for him and the film at the Caledonian Waldorf Astoria hotel in Edinburgh which promises to be a truly glitzy occasion.”

The film - which will only receive its French premiere on November 6 - received its first showings at the Toronto Film Festival last month where it was warmly reviewed by audiences and critics.

The French Film Festival screenings will take place in London at the Ciné Lumière on November 7, Edinburgh at the Filmhouse on November 8 and at Glasgow Film Theatre on November 9. Dundee DCA audiences also will see the film as part of the Festival.

Recalling the long production process of The Illusionist Chomet said: “Live action is very similar to animation apart from the fact that animation takes ages and live action goes really fast.” Chomet's first taste of live action came when he made a short segment for the portmanteau film Paris je t'aime.

Among the other highlights of this year's festival are screenings of the restored version of Jacques Demy's Lola and the first two parts (Marius and Fanny) of Marcel Pagnol's Marseille triology, directed by Daniel Auteuil. The third part, César, is due out in France at Christmas. Auteuil will launch the screenings in the UK at London Ciné Lumière on November 18 with other screenings around the country.

There will be a focus on French actor of Spanish origin Louis de Funès, in commemoration of the 30th anniversary of his death. His acting style is remembered for its high-energy performance and a wide range of facial expresssions. The Festival will give a UK premiere to the documentary Louis de Funès forever, directed by Gregory Monro and Catherine Benazeth who will atend. There will also be screenings of the classic Delusions of Grandure (La folie des grandeurs) in Edinburgh and London.

Eminent critics will also be on hand to offer introductions to their favourite films. Professorial fellow of film studies at the University of St Andrews Jean-Michel Frodon has chosen Aujourd’hui by Alain Gomis as his Francophone Film of the Year. Meanwhile former Observer critic Philip French will appear on Tuesday, November 19 at Cine Lumiere, London, to present his favourite French film, Bertrand Tavernier’s Life and Nothing But.

An eclectic programme of shorts films has also been curated, including recent César nominated titles.

The Festival's key venues are: Glasgow Film Theatre, Edinburgh Filmhouse, London CinéLumière, Warwick Arts Centre, Dundee DCA, Inverness Eden Court, Kirkcaldy Adam Smith, Aberdeen Belmont and Bo’ness Hippodrome.

For more information visit the official site. You can read our coverage of previous festivals here, with reviews from this year's festival coming soon.

Complete line-up

MARIUS (Daniel Auteuil)
FANNY (Daniel Auteuil)
BECOMING TRAVIATA (Phillippe Béziat)
CAMILLE CLAUDEL 1915 (Bruno Dumont)
CHINESE PUZZLE (Cedric Klapish)
LOVE IS IN THE AIR (Alexandre Castagnetti)
YOUNG & BEAUTIFUL (François Ozon)
CAPITAL (Costa-Gavras)
JAPPELOUP (Christian Duguay)
A LADY IN PARIS (Ilmar Raag)
LOVERS (Emmanuel Mouret)
THE MAN WHO LAUGHS (Jean-Pierre Améris)
THE OTHER SON (Lorraine Levy)
PAULETTE (Jérôme Enrico)
TENDERNESS (Marion Hansel)
TODAY (Alain Gomis)
11.6 (Philippe Godeau)
APACHES (Thierry de Peretti)
THE DANDELIONS (Carine Tardieu)
LE DEMANTELEMENT (Sebastian Pilote)
HENRI (Yolande Moreau)
ME, MYSELF AND MUM (Guillaume Gallienne)
ON MY WAY (Emmanuelle Bercot)
YOUTH (Justine Malle)
TONNERRE (Guillaume Brac)
THE RETURNED (Robin Campillo)
LIKE A LION (Samuel Collardey)
LA MAISON DE LA RADIO (Nicolas Philibert)
DAY OF THE CROWS (Jean-Christophe Dessaint)
LIFE AND NOTHING BUT (Bértrand Tavernier)
LOULOU (Maurice Pialat)
LOUIS DE FUNES FOREVER (Gregory Monro, Catherine Benazeth)
A PIG ACROSS PARIS (Claude Autant-Lara)

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