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Bon Jour, Cinephiles

Celebrating the 24th edition of the French Film Festival this Independence Day



Starting this Wednesday, June 12, the French Film Festival
will open to the public its 24th edition at the Bonifacio High Street cinemas and Greenbelt 3 cinemas. What is in store for us, film buffs, who have been patronizing art films since we discovered the rich La Nouvelle Vague (New Wave) when we were still students?

Varda by Agnès

Varda by Agnès, 2019

One filmmaker we admire is Agnès Varda who passed away last March 29 at the age of 90. Her farewell documentary, Varda by Agnès (2018), talks about her colorful insights about the origin of her works. There are three words that are important to her: inspiration, creation, and sharing. She confesses, “A filmmaker’s nightmare, an empty cinema!”

Her work as a photographer can be seen in the film. She captured outstanding black and white portraits of Salvador Dali, Federico Fellini, Visconti, and her love, Jacques Demy. Actresses Anouk Aimee, Catherine Deneuve, Jeanne Moreau, and a young Fidel Castro are also in her oeuvre.

The entry of small, digital cameras were beneficial to her career. “I could do more personal, intimate work. I could
make documentaries freely,” says the Honorary Academy Award winner. This “TED Talk” Varda style of narrating her
memories using old footages and recreating scenes from her films show her vibrant career as an auteur. Her exhibits
were also captured and it brought the audience to experience
her vast talent. It is a must see for all film lovers.

There are also family dramas that are timely for the
coming Father’s Day. How can parents cope with a handicapped son? De Toutes Nos Forces (The Finishers) (2014) is a touching story about wheelchair bound Julien (Fabien Heraud) who has cerebral palsy and his determination to join the Ironman triathlon with his father, Paul (Jacques Gamblin). Paul has “rejected” his son’s pleas many times. But Julien’s rebellious streak to make a point, even running away from home, proves advantageous to his cause. There are only a few films about PWDs and this should not be missed.

Le Brio

Le Brio, 2017

Ôtez-moi d’un Doute (Just To Be Sure) (2017) directed by Carine Tardieu tackles paternity issues between Erwan (Francois Damiens) and his two fathers. Erwan is a bomb disposal expert when he discovers that the man (Guy Marchand) who raised him is not his biological father. He tries to search for Joseph (Perrette Souplex) as his DNA
is compatible with the old man. Secretly, he visits Joseph to bond with him.

By twist of fate, he meets the charming Doctor Anna (Cecile de France) and sparks fly between them. But there is only one hindrance—Anna’s father is Joseph. Tension comes when Anna tries to punch Erwan without knowing him may be her brother is one of the film’s best scenes.Will we have a happy ending between the ill-fated lovers or will they accept that  they are siblings?

Le Grand Bain (Sink or Swim)

Le Grand Bain (Sink or Swim)

If you want to laugh and enjoy a group of misfits compete in a male synchronized swimming competition, Le Grand Bain (Sink or Swim) (2018), then this sports comedy film is for you.
Bertrand(Mathieu Amalric) is a depressed and unemployed husband who signs up in a synchronized swimming team with guys who are all losers and with dad-bod physique.

Amanda (Leila Bekhti), the team’s loud and terror coach and Delphine (Virginie Efira) team up to train this “hopeless” team. The men dream of representing France and becoming national heroes! Boon or bane? Love, acceptance, and reconciliation are the film’s moving forces.

Promise at Dawn

Promise at Dawn, 2017

The cast includes Guillaume Canet, Benoit Poelvoorde, Jean-Hugues Anglade, Marina Fois, Philippe Katerine, Felix Moati, Alban Ivanov, Balasingham Thamilchelvan, Jonathan Zaccai, Melanie Doutey, Noee Abita, and Claire Nadeau. The 122-minute film directed by Gilles Lellouche was screened out of competition during the 2018 Cannes Film Festival.

Le Brio (2017) shows the outbursts of racist professor Pierre (Daniel Auteuil) to Albanian student Neila (Camélia
Jordana) in social media. To right his “wrongdoing,” he was tasked by the school to train Neila for debate competitions.
The two fight like cats and dogs but genuine, sincere
emotions come out after. “I’ll never be your good deed,”
replies the angry Neila to Pierre’s provocations. This inspiring film seems predictable but Pierre’s awakening proves that giving second chances has a place for everyone. In the end,
Neila comes to his rescue confessing, “With him, everything
becomes possible.”

La Promesse de L’aube (Promise at Dawn) (2017), is for sons
who adores their mothers. Romain Gary (Pierre Niney) writes about his life with his overprotective mother, Nina (Charlotte Gainsbourg) during WW II. She has high expectations for his only son—to be a French ambassador, to kill Adolf Hitler, to be a published writer, and to be a national hero. The mother-son bond is so intense that it leads to Romain’s greatness. Even when Nina was gone, she made her presence felt in her son’s life through her endearing letters. She knew that her son wouldn’t survive if he knew she was dead. What a manipulative mother!

The Finishers

Here is the schedule of the French
Film Festival showing 15 contemporary films:
June 12 to 18 – Metro Manila (Bonifacio High Street cinemas & Greenbelt 3 cinemas)
June 20 to 22 – Cebu City (Ayala Center Cebu)
June 28 to 30 – Davao City (Abreeza Mall Davao)
July 10 to 12 – Bacolod City (Ayala Capitol Central Mall)

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