Rendezvous at the cinema

France's top directors and actors will be in Tel Aviv for the French film festival.

French Film 88 224 (photo credit: Courtesy)
French Film 88 224
(photo credit: Courtesy)
For the first time in 21 years, a French film took the top prize at Cannes, signaling that French cinema, which once led the world in quality films, is back on top. You can see some of the finest in contemporary French cinema at the fifth annual Rendez-Vous with French Cinema, a festival that just opened at the Lev Dizengoff and Dizengoff cinemas in Tel Aviv, and which will run through Saturday. Adding to the excitement, a number of France's top directors and actors will be visiting Israel to introduce their new works. The opening attraction this year is Cedric Klapisch's Paris, which stars two of France's biggest (and most stunning) stars, Roman Duris and Juliette Binoche. Duris plays a dancer at the Moulin Rouge who suddenly discovers he has a serious heart condition and may die if he doesn't receive a transplant. Binoche is his sister, with whom he has never been close, who comes to Paris to care for him. The movie, which takes place during a single day, shows how the city itself helps bring the ailing man closer to life when he becomes aware, for the first time, of its vitality and diversity. Several critics noted in their reviews that the film made them want to jump on the next plane to Paris. But if you resist that temptation and stay for the rest of the festival, you'll get to see a number of other recent films and get a good look at some of the actors who starred in them, up close. These include Anna Mouglalis, who stars in I Always Dreamed of Being a Gangster, which won the World Cinema Screenwriting prize at the last Sundance Film Festival. Directed by Samuel Benchetrit, with whom the glamorous actress has a child, the film tells the story of several neurotic dreamers who think they have what it takes for a life of crime. Olivia Bonamy, an actress with a small role in Paris, will be here to present that film as well as another one of her recent movies, MR73. She stars in the latter film as a woman whose parents were murdered by a man who is just about to be released from prison, and turns to a washed-up cop (Daniel Auteuil) for protection. Crime has always been a strong subject in French cinema, but now it is even more so, as can be seen in Laetitia Masson's critically acclaimed neo-noir, Coupable, about a crime of passion and the secrets about a family that are revealed in the aftermath. The director will present her film at the festival. Sylvie Testud, an actress who has won France's Cesar Award twice, will be here with her latest film, Sagan, a biography of colorful and controversial novelist Francoise Sagan. Her costar in the film, the actor and writer Pierre Palmade, will also attend the festival, as will the movie's director, Diane Kurys. Kurys is a veteran director who has made many films that touch on the theme of Jewish identity in France, including the well-known Entre Nous, starring Isabelle Huppert. But not all contemporary French films are serious. There's also 99 Francs, a movie by Jan Kounen, who will attend the festival. The movie, based on a best-selling novel, is a satire about advertising in France. Alexandre Arcady will be here with his latest film, Tu Peux Garder Un Secret? - a comedy-drama about romance in the workplace starring Juliette Arnaud and Pierre Arditi. There will be 20 films in the festival, all of them from the past year-and-a-half. A number of these films will open throughout Israel in the weeks following the festival, but if you see them at the festival you'll be able to view many of them in the presence of their creators and in a tres French and very festive atmosphere.