French Film Festival in 13 cities next month

The Alliance Française French Film Festival
March 1-April 18

The Alliance Française French Film Festival will run from March 1 to April 18 in 13 cities and towns across New Zealand.

The line-up of 37 films features several award-winning festival titles including the Academy Award-nominated Faces Places (Visages, Villages) by Agnès Varda and JR, Cannes Grand Prix and Queer Palm winner BPM (Beats Per Minute) (120 battements par minute) by Robin Campillo, Cannes Critics’ Week Nespresso Grand Prize winner Makala by Emmanuel Gras, and Cannes Camera d’Or winner Montparnasse Bienvenüe (Jeune Femme) by Léonor Serraille.

Visages, Villages is a movie about art and our responses to it. The film is directed by 90-year-old Agnes Varda who has been making films since the 1950s, including Le Pointe Courte and Cleo 5 to 7, which were major influences on French New Wave cinema.

In this film, Varda and her co-director, known as JR, travel to small French towns in a van, which is a photo-studio in which they take portraits of locals. These are put up on the sides of houses and walls in the town. The people they photograph, ordinary workers and citizens, then comment on their portraits, their lives and the world.

The film is something of a pilgrimage as well, with the pair visiting the grave of the photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson as well as a fruitless attempt to meet her old colleague Jean-Luc Godard.

Godard’s A Woman Is a Woman, one of the great New Wave films also features on the programme. It tells the story of the fraught relationship between Angela, played by Anna Karina (who was married to Godard) an exotic dancer, and her boyfriend Émile (Jean-Claude Brialy). Angela’s overwhelming desire to have a child causes endless arguments between the two.

The film is a nostalgic presentation of the 1960s cinema scene and is filled with clever references to other cinematic works of the time,

The programme includes a strong focus on female directors and creative talent. First features by up and coming filmmakers will play alongside work from established names such as Anne Fontaine (Reinventing Marvin, Marvin ou la belle éducation), Claire Simon (The Graduation, Le Concours) and Lisa Azuelos (Dalida).

Films featuring bold visionaries, auteurs of cinema and iconic songstresses show the arts are well and truly alive with biopics such as Redoubtable (Le Redoutable) by Michel Hazanavicius, Barbara by Mathieu Amalric and Rodin by Jacques Doillon.

In Rodin, director Jacques Doillon explores the intertwined connection between the artist and his works. Vincent Lindon takes on the role of Rodin and shows the artist at work, in revolt, obsessed with his ideas capturing the physical and emotional aspects of the sculptor as well as the essence of his sculptures.

The film was supported by the Musée Rodin in Paris as part of the centennial commemorations of Rodin’s death and was filmed in his own house in Meudon.

To mark the end of the centenary of World War, I a special selection of films set at that time also feature in the programme including The Guardians (Les Gardiennes), directed by Xavier Beauvois, which is set in rural France during the war featuring a mother and daughter who have taken over the farmwork from the men who have gone to war.

See You Up There (Au Revoir La-Haut), directed by Albert Dupontel, is set after the war with two men, Albert and Édouard, survivors of the trenches, one a humble accountant, the other a brilliant designer, who decide to set up a war memorial scam to take advantage of the county's desire to glorify the heroes of the war.

Dates and venues, at www.frenchfilmfestival.co.nz

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