There are 14 films for the Le Film Festival 2016.
Back for its 15th year with a new name, French film lovers who have been looking forward to this time of the year for their film fix would instantly recognise the fine selection of French films brought to you by the French Film Festival (FFF), which will henceforth be known as part of Le French Festival.
This year's lineup of 14 films come mainly between 2014 and 2015, and most of them were favourites for the Lumières and César awards, aside from the many festivals where they premiered, so you can be sure that these films are the crème de la crème of French cinema.
After a serendipitous meeting, love stricken couple Marc and Sylvie promise to see each other again at an appointed date and time in Paris. When the two miss their appointment due to fateful circumstances, Marc and Sylvie never see each other again, as they move on with their lives. As Marc finds a new lover, Sophie, Marc and Sylvie are forced to face each other again when he later finds out that Sylvie is Sophie's sister.
After 2012's "Farewell, My Queen", director Benoît Jacquot returns with this Golden Lion contender at the 2014 Venice International Film Festival, to tell a stirring romance drama, starring Benoît Poelvoorde and Charlotte Gainsbourg. "3 Hearts" was not only nominated for Best Film at the 2015 Lumières Awards, but was also backed by nominations for Best Director, Best Actress and Best Actor to form an iron triangle for reasons to be teared apart by this love triangle.
Clément is an average man who manages to win the attention of a beautiful stage actress; a woman beyond his wildest dreams. As their relationship develops, Clément finds himself bumping into another woman who seems to be everywhere he goes. When their accidental meetings go further, Clément is unsure how he will maintain his relationship with the woman of his dreams who slowly begins to suspect him.
In the Courtyard
Self-written, directed and starred by Emmanuel Mouret, "Caprice" is another love triangle of a different flavor; of a man trying to overcome his temptations with a naughty bent to it; a film that was certainly appreciated by the 2015 Cabourg Film Festival where it won Best Film.
Antoine is a depressed musician who is looking for new meaning in life after retiring from music. When he runs out of options, he is forced take a janitor job at an apartment complex. Antoine's antics soon attract the attention of its residents, including Mathilde, a retiree who is having her own bouts of depression about her marriage and life. As the two form an unlikely bond, they slowly push each other to move on with their lives.
Lost in Music
"In the Courtyard" stars Gustave Kervern and Catherine Deneuve who was nominated for a César Award as Best Actress. This little charmed dramedy, written and directed by Pierre Salvadori, also earned him a Swann d'or for Best Director at the 2014 Cabourg Film Festival.
Paul Vallée is an aspiring French writer who dabbles in the French electronica scene of the 1990s. When his small successes turns him into a household name, Paul and his partner decide to fully embark on a music career as DJs. Living the lifestyle of night parties, hard drinking and stoning on drugs, Paul's life soon spirals out of control while his partner quits to focus on his own passions. As Paul's reputation soon sputters out, he finds himself on the verge of becoming broke, destroying his most precious relationships, and losing friends.
Hippocrates Diary of a French Doctor
"Eden" is the only the fourth feature of director Mia Hansen-Løve, who has already gained strong attention since winning the Special Jury Prize in the Un Certain Regard at Cannes for 2009's "The Father of My Children". Premiered as a Special Presentation for the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival, "Eden" is also a personal story as it is inspired and co-written by her brother, Sven, and features licensed music from Daft Punk that added to its 3-year-long pre-production.
Young Benjamin is about to start his life as a doctor at the hospital run by his father. After an eventful first day in the ward, Benjamin slowly starts to wonder if he is suited for the doctor's life, as he continues confronting real hardships that test his limits and his fears.
In the Name of My Daughter
Writer and director Thomas Litti returns to the director's chair after seven years since 2007's "Les yeux bandés" to direct this 2014 hospital drama. Titled as if it was an adaptation of a memoir, "Hippocrate" is actually an original script written by Litti, which was among the 7 nominations it received at the 2015 César Awards, including Best Film, Best Director, and nods for its leading and supporting actors, with Reda Kateb ultimately taking the prize for Best Supporting Actor.
After a failed marriage, Agnès Le Roux returns to support her mother, Renée Le Roux, to own a casino at the French Rivera. As Agnès is seduced by her mother's attorney and advisor, Maurice, the relationship between mother and daughter are strained by a web of deceit, greed, seduction, manipulation and ambition that ultimately leads to Agnès's disappearance.
The Bélier Family
Adapted from the memoirs of the real Renée Le Roux and her son, "In the Name of My Daughter" is based on actual events of the scandalous disappearance of Agnès Le Roux in the 1970s. Instead of going into the nitty gritty details of the decades old case, director André Téchiné decides to focus on the relationship between mother and daughter based on real letters from Agnès, and the following aftermath of her disappearance when Renée launches a legal crusade to find out the truth. Although Catherine Deneuve stars as the iron-fist mother, it was the younger Adèle Haenel as Agnès, who was nominated for Best Actress at the Lumières Awards, along with her male co-star Guillaume Canet.
Sixteen year old Paula Bélier lives in a farm where she is an invaluable interpreter between her deaf parents and her brother. When Paula is discovered to have a singing voice that could win her an education and a bright future in Paris, the Béliers must decide if they can live without her.
The Princess of Montpensier
Already director Eric Lartigau's "The Bélier Family" looked to be a winner, coming out strong with 6 nominations at the César Awards and 4 others from the Lumières Awards, which already speaks to the well-rounded family cast. But it was the stirring voice that certainly opened a bright future for debuting singer and actress Louane Emera who went on to take the Most Promising Actress prize at both awards.
During the 16th century, the Princess of Montpensier is arranged to wed a prince, but her heart has always belonged to a lower-ranking duke. As the princess tethers between her role as a dutiful wife, her passion for her true love burns even stronger, whilst the men are sent to frontlines to fight a civil war between Catholics and Protestants.
Next Time I'll Aim for the Heart
This 2010 adaptation to one of France's most loved novellas published in 1662 by the anonymous Madame de La Fayette, is deemed to be one of the classical adaptations of the source material itself. While brought onto the production much during the later stages of its pre-production, director Bertrand Tavernier still manages to weave in his own interpretation of the material, as intricately as the woven costumes of this romance period piece. "The Princess of Montpensier" was a contender for the Cannes Palm d'Or where it premiered in 2010, but its 7 nominations (and winning one of them for Best Costume Design) at the 2011 César Awards is already a strong enough testament to its high technical and production value.
In Oise, France during the 1970s, a serial killer is on the loose, targeting women and hitchhikers. Franck is a police officer and the same killer that the police are trying to track down. As the number of murders increase, Frack tries to overcome his urges for killing.
An adaptation of the novel by Yvan Stefanovitch which is based on real events, "Next Time I'll Aim for the Heart" is a chiller thriller that also focuses on the mental disability of its killer, played by the iconic Guillaume Canet who puts up a compelling solo performance to be nominated for Best Actor by the César Awards and Lumières Awards.
During the Cultural Revolution, a Chinese student is sent to Inner Mongolia as a teacher for the local shepherds. While he is there, he begins to learn about the wolf population and the special bond it has with the people there, before it comes under threat of an official crackdown.
The Little Prince
"Wolf Totem" is probably the most peculiar French film at this year's festival, but it's also the most rewarding to be seen. Based on the controversial autobiographical novel by Lu Jiamin written under a pseudonym, the only French you would find in this adaptation is only in the credits, as there is not a lick of French spoken in this otherwise mainly Chinese production. When director Jean-Jacques Annaud was to helm the project for his experience of working with animals, the Chinese government had to lift a ban against him for making the Brad Pitt-starring "Seven Years in Tibet" in 1997. That was only the first step in the painstaking process to make the rest of the film, which also involved raising actual wolf cubs to be the wolves that will be seen on screen which took several years.
This unusual collaboration was to be China's entry for the Foreign Oscars before it was discarded, but the accolades it collected from the 2015 Beijing International Film, the Golden Horse Film Festival, the Golden Rooster Awards, and the Hong Kong Film Awards is praise enough. Among those accolades went to the late James Horner as this was one of his last films he scored.
To enroll into the prestigious Werth Academy, a young girl is stuck with a rigorous study schedule by her strict mother throughout the summer. As the girl grows bored of her routine, she is attracted by her elderly neighbour who dresses like an aviator, and tells her stories of a little prince staying on a distant asteroid.
Since its publication in 1943, this beloved French novel has been translated and printed on many media platforms, but has yet to receive a feature adaptation until 2015. Lovingly blended with stop-motion and computer animation, "The Little Prince" is a work of love that is graced with a truly all-star voice cast from Jeff Bridges to Marion Cotillard and Paul Rudd. If not for being awarded the Best Animated Feature at the 2016 César Awards, this animation should be a must-watch for any readers of the book, both young and old, because it carries a message of growing up and never forgetting to look to the stars to follow our dreams.
When Romain Esnart's 85-year-old grandmother disappears from her retirement home, his family is in an uproar as simmering tensions start to boil over. Days later, he receives a postcard from her, saying that she is in Normandy. Taking the long road trip to the coast of France, Romain is not only not taking her home, but takes her to revisit her memories of the place that she had to leave behind.
Oss117 : Lost in Rio
This cosy little third feature from actor-director Jean-Paul Rouve may not have the prestigious award markings as the other films in this festival, but that shouldn't get in the way of this feel good heartwarming family reunion drama. "Memories" is a soft reminder that life can get busy at times when we have become adults, but we need to take a walk to smell the roses once in a while to see what we have lived our lives for, and what we will leave behind when it is over.
When the French intelligence service is being blackmailed by a Nazi professor with a microfilm of French Nazi sympathizers, they assign agent Hubert Bonisseur de La Bath to make the exchange in the South Americas. While on his way, Hubert will have to contend with the CIA, Mossad and the mysterious Carlotta who have other plans for the Nazi professor.
Not My Type
Britain have their 007 and the French have their 117, although OSS 117 has more in common with Austin Powers than James Bond. Before becoming the duo that would win the Oscar Best Picture for "The Artist", Michel Hazanvicius and Jean Dujardin were better known for making this spy genre parody. Unapologetically rancid with stereotype jokes as you would from an Austin Powers movie, but delivered in the suave charm like Sean Connery as James Bond, and you have a spy comedy that has the best of both worlds.
Jennifer is a carefree hair dresser living in Arras. Clément Le Guern is an intellectual philosophy lecturer from Paris who is sent to teach in Arras. As Clément starts to grow bored of the life and weather in Arras, he meets Jennifer. Their budding love starts out as a wildfire of passion, but as their relationship deepens, their intellectual and cultural upbringing starts to form a rift between them.
Premiered as part of the Contemporary World Cinema section at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival, this vibrant to dying romance adapted by director Lucas Belvaux has food for the mind and heart. Sweeping a complete win as Best Film with Best Actor and Best Actress at the 2014 Cabourg Film Festival, "Not My Type" is also a showcase of Emilie Dequenne's performance who would later go on to be nominated from the César to the Lumières awards.
Cinema Online, 09 May 2016