The changing colors of French cinema

The 12th annual French Film Festival gets under way.

March 11, 2015 10:56
3 minute read.
'The Missing Picture' movie

'The Missing Picture' movie. (photo credit: PR)

The 12th annual French Film Festival at the Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, Holon, Herzliya and Sderot cinematheques, which begins on March 15 and runs through the end of the month, features an especially distinguished guest list, plus the best of contemporary French cinema. The festival will also present some of the finest that French television has to offer.

The 20 festival films represent the changing face of French society, with stories from all sectors of society, among them African and Asian immigrants.

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The festival opens with The Missing Picture, which will be screened in the presence of the film’s noted French-Cambodian director, Rithy Panh. The film is a documentary that depicts the atrocities committed by the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia between 1975 and 1979 through archival footage, clay figures and narration.

It was nominated for a Best Foreign Language Film Oscar in 2014.

Panh’s visit is sponsored by the Cinema Arts Department of the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, and Panh will participate in a number of workshops for art students.

The commercially successful and critically acclaimed directing duo of Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano will attend the festival to present their latest film, Samba.

Omar Sy, who starred in Nakache and Toledano’s previous film, The Intouchables, plays the title role of Samba, an immigrant from Senegal to France who takes any job he can get and who dreams of getting his working papers. He meets a burnt-out executive, Alice (Charlotte Gainsbourg), and together they help each other turn their lives around.

Abderrahmane Sissako is a Mauritian-born director whose latest film, Timbuktu, was nominated for a Best Foreign Language Film Oscar this year. The film is a French/Mauritian co-production that tells the story of a cattle herder and his family who live in the dunes of Timbuktu and find their quiet lives abruptly disturbed by Jihadists.

Girlhood, the story of a rebellious young woman involved with a gang who is determined to change her life, was directed by Celine Sciamma. It has received rave reviews at film festivals all over the world and has been described as one of the best coming-of-age movies in years.

Many know Melanie Laurent as the actress who starred in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds, but she is also a director. Breathe, her second feature film, is also a female coming-of-age drama but with a very different setting from Girlhood. It tells the story of two teenage girls who form an intense and ultimately dangerous friendship.

Robert Guediguian is known for his realistic but affectionately observed films about workingclass life in Marseilles. His latest film, Ariane’s Thread, is a kind of valentine to his wife, Ariane Ascaride, whom he nearly always uses as his leading lady. She plays a version of herself, who gets left alone on her birthday and then takes off on a road trip to celebrate with old friends she seeks out and new ones she meets along the way.

The movie In the Name of My Daughter, the latest film by André Techine, one of the most respected directors in French cinema, features Catherine Deneuve as an aging casino owner fighting mobsters who have taken over the gambling business and who she is certain are responsible for the disappearance of her daughter in the 1970s.

Francois Ozon, who made such films as Potiche and Swimming Pool, has adapted a Ruth Rendell novel for his latest film, The New Girlfriend. It stars Anais Demoustier as a woman who discovers that her late best friend’s husband (Romain Duris) is a cross dresser.

There are many more wonderful films in the festival this year, so check the individual cinematheque programs for details and to buy tickets.

The festival is sponsored by Maboussin, the French Embassy in Israel, the Institute Français in Israel, and Eden Cinema Ltd.

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