Israel says 'oui' to French cinema [pg. 24]

Break out the champagne - the third French Film Festival will be coming to cinematheques throughout the country in early May. The opening movie will be Daniele Thompson's Musical Chairs, a comedy starring Cecile De France about a young waitress in Paris who gets involved with some theatrical types. It also stars Valerie Lemercier, Albert Dupontel, Laura Morante, Claude Brasseur and Dani, the Seventies star who appeared in Francois Truffaut's Day for Night. American director/actor Sydney Pollack also has a small role. The film, which will open throughout Israel on May 11, is being billed as a film with mass international appeal, along the lines of Amelie. Festival guests will include Julie Depardieu, the daughter of actor Gerard Depardieu, who stars in two films that will be part of this year's festival, The Passenger and You and Me. The Canadian director, Jean-Marc Vallee, will be on hand to promote his film, C.R.A.Z.Y., a coming-of-age drama that has been a huge hit on the international festival circuit, along with his young star, Marc-Andre Grondin. This year's festival films will be in three basic categories: recent films from France; films in French from other countries in the French-speaking world, such as Canada, Switzerland and Belgium; and animated films. There will also be a program of short films that are a collaboration between students from a French film school and those at the Sam Spiegel Film School in Jerusalem. Other films include the most recent works by Francois Ozon, Philippe de Broca and Anne Fontaine. Twenty-one film critics voted on the best French film of all time, and the winner, Jean Renoir's Rules of the Game, will be shown. The festival runs from May 4-14 at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque; from May 4-20 at the cinematheques in Jerusalem, Haifa, Sderot and Rosh Pina; and from May 8-11 at the Culture Hall in Netanya.