Renault French Film Festival
A veritable embarrass de richesse
The barriers between French language film and a widespread British market are shrinking, brought on by popular breakthroughs like 'Amelie', 'La Haine', and 'Delicatessen', to name a few. This month Glasgow and Edinburgh take part in the newly amalgamated and revved up French Film Festival, the result of a meshing together of two film festivals that will see us treated to an array of Gallic talent, in a new streamlined format. Edinburgh based Richard Mowe, director of what was previously the French Film Festival UK, says "there were two events and (people) mixed them up. It makes sense to make an even bigger splash together." Edgy, sexy, and socially extrovert, French film is hot right now, and Scotland has long held a special affection for French culture in its well heeled underbelly, so it's good to drag this untapped and vital market front and centre.
The programme is split into two categories. First up is the Panorama section, devoted to more established directors and famous actors including Gerard Depardieu and Catherine Deneuve, and the sexy new-school stars like Audrey Tautou ('Amelie') and Romain Duris ('The Beat That My Heart Skipped'). Secondly, the Discovery section brings out the newest emerging talent, including the snaggle-toothed Vanessa Paradis in 'My Angel', her first film in six years.
With dozens of films, the range of style is expansive. 'Russian Dolls' (dir. Cedric Klapisch), one of the festival's gala screenings, looks easy going; a happy, romantic comedy with an experienced and lively cast. 'When the Sea Rises', winner of the prestigious Louis Delluc Best First Film award, follows a bizarrely whimsical few weeks in the life and loves of Irene, portraying the transient world of travelling theatres. The film's director, Gilles Porte, will be present for questions at screenings in Edinburgh and Glasgow. For more grit, 'L.627', showing in the festival's Tavernier retrospective section, is a fast and clipped take on Parisian drug culture from the eyes of a squalid undercover-police drug squad, and is up there with the best, belligerent cop films.
Honorary patron and Oscar-nominated film director Sylvain Chomet describes the film selection as "a veritable embarrass de richesse", and as the creator of cult classic 'Belleville Rendez-Vous', he probably knows a thing or two. Also, along the lines of encouraging punter participation, masterclasses open to all have been arranged in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dundee. Anyone can go along and kick it with Bertrand Tavernier, acclaimed and lauded producer, script writer and director. If you're interested in making films at all this is a golden opportunity.
The Renault French Film Festival runs from March 1-30. Full programme at www.frenchfilmfestival.org.uk.
Tickets and bookings - GFT, 0141 332 8128, www.gft.org.uk, Edinburgh Filmhouse, 0131 228 2688, www.filmhousecinema.com.