Rendez-Vous with French Cinema

The 17th Rendez-Vous with French Cinema opens today in New York City. 2011 was an amazing year for French films. Of course, there was the international success of The Artist but most importantly, there was the triumph of Intouchables and the suprising popular appeal of smaller movies like Les Femmes du 6eme Etage, Polisse or Un Monstre un Paris. Very few of these films will actually make their ways to American theaters. One of the best ways to get your fix of current French movies is through film festivals, like New York’s Rendez Vous with French Cinema, which opens tonight with last year hit: Intouchables. I saw Intouchables when I was visiting my parents last February and absolutely loved it. It’s funny but not in a silly way, simple (simplicity is all too often lacking in french films) and unpretentious (also a quality that is often absent.) It will make you laugh and it will make you cry too… The two main actors Omar Sy and Eric Cluzet give excellent performances, and Eric will actually be in New York for the 2 viewings of his film, on opening night (March 1st) and March 4th. Other French A-listers that are making the trip include Carole Bouquet (her film Unforgiveable is showing march 7th and 9th), Vincent Lindon who I just adore (he has two films at the festival: Pater and Moon Child/La Permission de Minuit) and mademoiselle Amelie Poulain herself, Audrey Tautou,  will be there to promote La Delicatesse. For a complete schedule, please check the festival’s official program, but you’re in for a treat francophones and francophiles!

If you’re like me, in D.C. and unable to make the trip to the New York for the occasion, you can still catch some of the movies at Silver Spring’s (petit) Rendez-Vous with French Cinema. Six films from the program will be featured at AFI Silver Theater and Cultural Center, including a live webcast of the Q&A with Vincent Lindon accompanying the screening of Pater on March 4. The schedule for the D.C. Festival is:

  • Saturday March 3rd: Moon Child (La Permission de Minuit) starring Vincent Lindon at 9:30PM
  • Sunday March 4th: Pater will be showing at 3:30PM and should be hit with the politically minded audiences of the District. The film follows a fictional French president (played by the director of the film himself, Alain Cavalier, and his newly appointed prime minister, played by Lindon. This screening will be followed by a Q&A from the screening in New York. At 9PM, the theater will show The Screen Illusion, based on a play by Corneille.
  • Monday March 5th: Moon Child (La Permission de Minuit), 3:45PM; Pater, 9PM
  • Tuesday March 6th: The Screen Illusion at 4PM; Last Screening (Derniere Sceance), a French horror film, at 9PM.
  • Wednesday March 7th: Last Screening at 4PM; Smugglers’ Songs (Les Chants des Mandarins)  at 9:30PM
  • Thursday March 8th: Smugglers’ Songs at 4PM; The Well Digger (La Fille du Puisatier) at 9:30PM. La Fille du Puisatier features Daniel Auteuil, who is no stranger to screen adaptations of books by Marcel Pagnol… if you haven’t seen Jean de Florette and Manon des Sources, I included both on my list of the top 15 French films available on netflix. They’re very good films.

All tickets are $11.50 and can be purchased in advance on the theater’s website. In addition to the Rendez vous with French Cinema, a number of films in French are currently being shown around the city as part of the Festival de la Francophonie like the Kid with the Bike (Le gamin au velo), grand prix du jury at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival (Letelier Theater, 7PM, Thursday, March 8th). AFI SIlver Spring, E Street Cinema & Landmark  Bethesda Row are still showing The Artist (if you haven’t seen it… go!) and E Street is also showing Charlotte Rampling’s The Look.  Finally, you can also take a little road trip to Richmond at the end of the month for the Richmond’s French Film Festival (March 29-April , 2012.) I made the trip to Richmond last year for the festival (but mainly to see the Picasso exhibit at the Richmond Museum of Fine Arts) and I’m contemplating driving down again for a movie or two… I’ve admired Mathieu Kassovitz’s work since La Haine and he will be in Virginia’s capital to present L’Ordre et la Morale at 3:30PM Saturday March 31st. The screening will be followed by the official reception for the Festival at VCU Scott House, a special free screening of Cyrano de Bergerac and a 10PM showing of a movie on Albert Camus. Sounds like a fun way to spend a Saturday to me… Otherwise the Festival, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary (complete schedule here), seems to be showing some good movies that wouldn’t make their ways into our theathers otherwise…

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