The French Film Festival currently taking place all over the
The 2008 vintage tackles strong themes such as the Algerian War legacy in
One of the most moving films of the selection is Summer of 62. The French title, Cartouches gauloises, is more polemic and refers both to the famed French cigarette brand and French bullets. Mehdi Charef’s 1987 debut Le thé au harem d’Archimède was a hit tackling the issue of
Two other films, Mon Colonel (directed by Laurent Herbiet and co-written by Costa-Gavras) and Florent-Emilio Siri’s Intimate Enemies are dedicated to the same theme. The first recalls how French soldiers used systematic torture on Algerian civilians and fellaga (freedom fighters) while the second focus on relationships within the French Army at that particular time.
A mini-section entitled Mai 68 Retro gives the opportunity to watch or re-watch Louis Malle’s 1989 classic Milou en mai/ May Fools, centred around a family gathering for their matriarch’s funeral, as well as Mai 68, a rare documentary filmed by Jean-Luc Magneron during the eponymous riots. Other political films are on offer, like Serge Bozon’s unexpected musical war drama La France, beloved actor and FFF guest Jean-Pierre Darroussin’s first directed feature The Premonition or Claude Miller’s highly prized and praised A Secret.
The family and its complex mechanics are also featured, with the Doillon clan strongly present. Boxes, Jane Birkin’s long-awaited directorial debut, is an autobiographical drama in which a menopausal woman, having recently moved to
Lou’s half-sister Lola Doillon hasn’t been outdone, as she will present her first feature Just About Love at the GFT on the 8th of March at 8.30pm, and will stay for a Q&A session. Her comedy offers a fresh outlook on love, youth and first experiences, well summed up by the French title “Et toi, t’es sur qui?” (literally “What about you, who are you on?”).
Still within the family theme, Hunting and Gathering, a charming comedy drama, celebrates veteran Claude Berri’s return after his 2005 L’un reste, l’autre part, which starred Charlotte Gainsbourg and Daniel Auteuil. Berri has once again gathered an impressive cast ranging from
Let’s not forget Conversation With My Gardener, Jean Becker’s new venture. The veteran and FFF guest is better known in the
Last but not least, a few well-chosen comedies brighten up the selection. Priceless, which premiered at the recent Glasgow Film Festival, is a definite crowd-pleaser, as well as an astute and sarcastic comedy depicting a superficial and wealthy world in which everyone’s for sale. Gad Elmaleh and Audrey Tautou’s unlikely association works well and the two glamorous stars are reminiscent of Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn in their comedy hey days.
The wonderful Sandrine Bonnaire, whose directorial debut, Her Name is Sabine, is also screened in London for the FFF, reveals her unsuspected comic talent to Vincent Lindon in Pierre Jolivet’s romcom Could This Be Love. And if, unlike one of my revered colleagues, you haven’t had enough of 2008 BAFTA, Oscar and César winner Marion Cotillard, she’s back in Fair Play, directed by FFF guest Lionel Bailliu and also starring heartthrob Benoit Magimel.
All in all the 2008 French Film Festival selection, despite its common themes, is ambitious, challenging and extremely varied. Don’t forget to check out previews of The Story of Richard O, Priceless and Second Wind, as well as reviews of Boxes, La
For more details on the FFF 2008, go to