French cinema shines a light

Virtual Rendez-vous with French Cinema set to roll with appetising starter

by Richard Mowe

Isabelle Carré and Grégory Gadebois in costume comedy-drama Délicieux cook up something special for the opening of the 23rd Rendezvous with French Cinema
Isabelle Carré and Grégory Gadebois in costume comedy-drama Délicieux cook up something special for the opening of the 23rd Rendezvous with French Cinema Photo: UniFrance

With French cinemas firmly shuttered because of the pandemic until at the very earliest the end of January the annual Rendez-vous with French Cinema, organised by UniFrance, bursts into digital life tomorrow.

Mirroring the actual physical event, there will even be an opening cocktail with participants divided into virtual rooms to ease interaction. Bring your own bottle and canapés is the order of the evening.

The opening film sounds a suitably appetising confection: Délcieux, directed by Eric Besnard, with Grégory Gadebois as an enterprising chef, sacked by his master, and Isabelle Carré as the spirited young woman who helps him to establish the first restaurant. Gastronomy combines with the sweet taste of revenge in the costume comedy-drama set in 1789 just before the Revolution.

More than 90 actors and directors are scheduled to take part in remote interviews from a specially set-up studio space in Paris with 140 international journalists. In excess of 800 buyers will view previews of new films scheduled to be rolled out during the months ahead.

Serge Toubiana and Daniela Elstner
Serge Toubiana and Daniela Elstner Photo: UniFrance
Just to make sure appearances are maintained to high levels of French chic, the media interviews will be conducted from a prestigious Parisian hotel, with the styling of hair and makeup for participating artists provided by Parfums Givenchy. Perhaps that will act as a spur to lockdown journalists slouching around in pyjamas.

The event will be officially opened by the Minister of Culture Roselyne Bachelot-Narquin, UniFrance's Serge Toubiana and director Nadav Lapid (Synonyms) followed by a day of day of presentations including a focus on 25 years of French films on the international scene and the role festivals can play in the fortunes of film directors.

Serge Toubiana and Daniela Elstner, respectively president and executive director of UniFrance, sent a joint message of hope to participants: “We only want one thing: to return physically to places where the exchange about projects can once again occur in a more immediate dialogue.

“This of course also applies to our films, which we hope will light up screens in movie theatres as quickly as possible, as soon as health regulations allow. French films have not stopped shooting and they will be ready for the reopening of cinemas, showing a tenfold increase in diversity and richness.”

The Rendez-vous coincides with the launch on 15 January of the online MyFrenchFilmFestival in its 11th edition. Titles selected include Adolescentes (Sébastien Lifshitz); Felciità (Bruno Merle); Just Kids (Christophe Blanc); and Burning Ghost (Stéphane Batut) as well as a collection of shorts.

The short films can be viewed free of charge worldwide, while the feature films have a viewing fee of €1.99 (or €7.99 per pack).

The festival (until 15 February) will be free in Africa, Latin America, Southeast Asia, South Korea, Poland, Romania and Russia/CIS.

Web users can find the films of the selection on MyFrenchFilmFestival.com, but also on over 60 video-on-demand platforms, which will present the festival internationally, including Apple TV app (in over 90 territories), Amazon Prime Video, Google Play and MUBI.

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