Oh La La! French comedy fest in Israel part deux

Cinematheques in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa, Sderot, Herzliya, and Rosh Pina, as well as theaters in Savyon, Kiryat Tivon and Ashdod will present the festival.

November 13, 2016 14:22
3 minute read.
french oh la la

Eric Lavaine's 'Back to Mom'. (photo credit: Courtesy)


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Once upon a time, France was known for its dramas, but now, comedy is king in French cinema.

The cinematheques in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa, Sderot, Herzliya, and Rosh Pina, as well as theaters in Savyon, Kiryat Tivon and Ashdod will present the Oh La La! Festival of French comedy from November 14 until the end of the month. There will also be screenings at Yes Planet and Cinema City theaters, as well as the Park Cinema in Raanana. The festival features 17 movies, including short films, which were made in the last year or two and which will feature titles in English and Hebrew.

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The opening night film will be Back to Mom’s by Eric Lavaine, who made the very successful comedy, Barbecue, a couple of years ago. His new film tells the story of a woman (Alexandra Lamy) in her forties who has to move back home with her mother (Josiane Balasko) after her business fails. It’s a familiar situation given new life with this sophisticated French backdrop. Alexandra Lamy is one of France’s most in-demand comic actresses. Josiane Balasko is an acclaimed actress/director who starred in The Hedgehog and directed the very funny French Twist. Lavaine will be a guest of the festival, as will Laurent Tirard, director of the closing-night film, Up for Love. Laurent Tirard has made many successful comedies, including The Story of My Life and Moliere. Up for Love is about a high-powered lawyer (Virginie Efira, currently starring in The Sense of Wonder) who falls in love with a much smaller man, played by Jean Dujardin (The Artist, Un + Une).

Samir Guesmi, the actor who stars in Sólveig Anspach’s The Aquatic Effect, will also attend the festival. The movie is about a man who falls in love with a swimming instructor. Guesmi also stars in Anspach’s Queen of Montreuil, about a widow who can’t get over her husband’s death, which also will be shown in the festival.

Among other films on the program is the 9-Month Stretch. It was directed by and stars Albert Dupontel, who plays a criminal wanted for murder. The twist is that he is having a baby with a woman, a judge (Sandrine Kiberlain), who is generally very, well, judgmental. The movie won the Cesar Awards for Best Screenplay and Best Actress. In Saint Amour, Gerard Depardieu plays a father who is disappointed in his hard-drinking adult son, and goes on a crazy road trip with him, in a Parisian taxi. It’s a genial comedy, with Depardieu giving his best performance in years. Benoît Poelvoorde who also starred in last year’s The Brand New Testament, plays the son. The movie was directed by Benoît Delépine and Gustave Kervern.

Kervern also stars in Sophie Reine’s Cigarettes and Hot Chocolate, playing a loving single father who is ordered by a court to attend parenting classes after he forgets to pick up his daughter from school. Julie Delpy made her name as an actress in such films as Before Sunrise, but has had a second act as a writer/director who also stars in her movies. Her latest film as actress/director is Lolo, in which she plays a 40-year-old workaholic who works in fashion and falls for a provincial computer geek, played by comedian Danny Boon, whom she meets while on a spa vacation.

Just as in many countries around the world, the French film industry has become more diverse in recent years. One example of this is The Cow by Mohamed Hamidi, an offbeat story about an Algerian man who dreams of taking his beloved cow to the agricultural fair in Paris and makes a journey across France by foot.

The African Doctor by Julien Rambaldi is a fact-based comic story of a doctor from the Congo who goes to work in a small French village and must win over the locals.

La Grande Vadrouille
is a comedy classic from 1966 directed by Gerard Oury, who is best known for The Mad Adventures of ‘Rabbi’ Jacob. It stars Bovril and Louis de Funes in a story of a British bomber who is shot down over Paris by the Germans.

Among those that are sponsoring the festival are the Eden Cinema, the French Institute in Tel Aviv, the Tel Aviv-Jaffa Municipality and the Israeli Foreign Ministry Culture Department.

For more information and to order tickets, go to the cinematheque websites.

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