City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Preview: 22nd French Film Festival Draws On An ‘Embarras de Richesses'


By Vivien Devlin - Posted on 03 November 2014

Scene from Gazelles, a romantic comedy  (Mona Achache)

The French Film Festival (La Fete Du Cinema) is a wonderful opportunity to see an inspiring, cultural collection of new French movies, many of which will not be shown on general release in Britain.

This is the 22nd year of the popular, ever-growing Festival which now visits nearly a dozen towns and cities across Scotland and the UK. Romance, drama, comedy, animation, politics, documentary and shorts cover every style, storyline and setting, from premieres to vintage classics.

Festival director Richard Mowe said: “Although UK audiences see more French films on release than at any other time, we are still spoiled for choice in the range of titles for potential inclusion. The French would call it an ‘embarras de richesses'."

Highlights picked from the Cannes Film Festival this year include "9 Month Stretch", described as a black comedy court-room caper; this won the best actress Cesar for Sandrine Kimberlain.

Nominated for Best Film is "Turning Tide" about a yachtsman facing the challenges and dangers of a solo sailing race.

Based on the 1964 novel by Georges (Maigret) Simeonon, "The Blue Room" follows the liaisons dangereuses between a womanising married man and his manipulative mistress who meet in the blue room at the Hôtel des Voyageurs. But their passionate affair leads to a nightmare of tragic consequences. Directed by and starring Mathieu Amalric (Quantum of Solace, Grand Budapest Hotel), this is sure to be an atmospheric, psychological thriller.

On a lighter note, "Gazelles", written and directed by Mona Achache is a kind of French Bridget Jones’ narrative about the lifestyle of a 30-something single girl. Marie and Eric are childhood sweethearts and after 14 years together are about to buy their first apartment when Marie has second thoughts: “an ode to womanhood and freedom, Gazelles is a joyous but realistic girl-power statement.”

The great news is that both Mona Achache and leading actress Camille Chamoux (Marie) will be appearing at the screenings of Gazelles in London, Glasgow and Edinburgh.

A key feature of the Festival is the added bonus of guest artists taking part in Q&A sessions following the films.

In several cities, Lionel Baier will introduce his film "Longwave", an entertaining road movie about the 1974 Carnation revolution in Portugal. "Marie’s Story" relates the true story of a blind and deaf girl and her saviour, a caring young nun; the film's Director Jean-Pierre Ameris will also be visiting the Festival.

Location, location, location: during the Festival you can take a virtual journey across France - Paris, Provence, Normandy, French Riviera, Marseille, and from West Africa to Argentina.

The centenary of the First World War is commemorated on film. "Wooden Crosses", a moving anti war movie from 1931, and "Life and Nothing But", (Bertrand Tavernier) which illustrates the aftermath through the heartache of thousands of grieving mothers and widows. It won best Foreign film at the Baftas, 1989.

The Festival features such acclaimed actors as Catherine Deneuve, Isabelle Huppert, Jean Reno, and the directors include Jean-Luc Godard, Anne Villaceque and the late Alain Resnais.

A master of New Wave cinema, Resnais moved from documentaries to musicals and sci-fi, inspired by classic drama, pop culture and farce. As a tribute, there’s a screening of !Hiroshima Mon Amour" (1959), a fictional love story set between post-war Japan and France which won the International Critics prize at Cannes. “A meditation on memory and heartbreak, the opening montage of lovers’ entwined hands is breathtaking even today—in 1959 it was truly, elevating cinema.”

Resnais died this year aged 91, following the premiere of his film, "Life of Riley". It's a typical melancholic comedy of manners by Alan Ayckbourn about middle class relationships, love and marriage.

There's children’s entertainmemt too, including a new version of "Belle & Sebastian" based on the popular 1960s TV series, and an animated fairy tale, "Wolfy, the Incredible Secret" about a young wolf and his friend Tom, a rabbit. Check out the programme for details of L’Ecole du cinema and the schools programme of participating cinemas taking part in the FFF.

A vital and valuable section of the French Film Festival is to promote new, young talent. Short Cuts will highlight the work of seven directors representing diverse cinematic styles.

"Mr Hublot" won an Oscar for Best Animated Short. It sounds like a charming, if rather surreal animation about an eccentric house-proud man and his new pet dog.

Edinburgh based film-maker, Max Markus has a great interest in history, legends and magical realism. His new film "Looking Glass", set in late 19th century France, is a five minute atmospheric Gothic drama, artistically inspired by the romanticism and sensual beauty of Pre-Raphaelite portraits.

Markus has also created the trailer to preview the FFF 2014. A tasty amuse bouche of cinematic treats over the next month coming to a cinema near you.

French Film Festival: 7 November to 7 December, 2014. Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Dundee, Inverness, Kirkcaldy, London, Cambridge, Newcastle, Warwick, York.

For the FFF programme, venues, and ticket information see www.frenchfilmfestival.org.uk. Programmes are available in participating cinemas.

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