Highlights of Cork French Film Festival

Highlights of Cork French Film Festival

Esther McCarthy selects six of the best from the feast of Gallic cinema on offer on Leeside

WHEN it comes to telling stories on the big screen, the French have a certain je ne sais quoi. Buoyed by one of the biggest, most industrious and widely supported domestic film industries outside of Hollywood, cinema is at the heart and soul of French culture. France has brought some of the most-loved cinematic classics — A Bout de Souffle, La Haine, Amélie to name but a few — to the world.

The Cork French Film Festival, running from March 4-8, will feature latest releases from some of the country’s most-loved stars including Catherine Deneuve and Juliette Binoche. Now in its 31st year, it’s one of the city’s longest-running festivals. Cinéphiles and Francophiles take note: here are six of this year’s most-anticipated films.

Proxima

Wednesday, 6.45pm, Gate Cinema

Eva Green has been widely praised for her role as astronaut Sarah in the festival’s opening-night film. She is a single mother preparing for a possible groundbreaking space mission, who undergoes an intense and challenging training schedule, which could see her separated from her daughter for a year. Uniquely, a great deal of the movie was shot in the European Space Agency’s actual training facilities.

Les Misérables

Saturday, 8.45pm, Gate Cinema

Selected as France’s Best International Feature entry at this year’s Oscars — and shortlisted to the final five — this is a contemporary thriller set in Montfermeil, a working-class district in the Paris suburbs. Of course, it’s the same area where Victor Hugo’s classic was set. The story is told through the eyes of a young recruit who joins a police group which patrols one of the most challenging estates in the area. A new tale of class and corruption on the outskirts of Paris.

Two of Us (Deux)

Sunday, 4.30pm, Gate Cinema

Two retired women live ostensibly as friends in the same French apartment — but they’ve been keeping a huge personal secret for decades. Deeply in love, their relationship has not been made public because one of them has been keeping it from her adult children. They plan to one day move to Italy together, but they must make some rapid decisions when one of the women falls ill. Screen International called theirs a relationship “whose mutual devotion is quietly thrilling”.

The Truth (La Vérité)

Sunday, 6.45pm, Gate Cinema

France’s queen of cinema, Catherine Deneuve, takes the lead role in Hirokazu Kore-eda’s first film set outside his native Japan. The filmmaker previously brought us the acclaimed Oscar and Palme d’Or winner, Shoplifters.

Who better than Deneuve to play an acclaimed movie diva adored by fans but whose family ties are far more complicated. When she writes her memoirs, long-held issues turn to fiery confrontations. The big-name cast also includes Juliette Binoche and Ethan Hawke.

A Minuscule Adventure (family film)

Saturday and Sunday, 11.30am, Gate Cinema

The sequel to the award-winning Miniscule: Valley of Lost Ants is an animated tale, blended with live action, and centred on some of our most colourful crawlies. When a little ladybird accidentally gets caught in a parcel destined for the Caribbean, its friend bands together another ladybird, an ant and a black spider to carry out an audacious rescue mission.

Set in the French West Indies, Hélene Giraud and Thomas Szabo’s film relies almost fully on the power of visual storytelling, unfolding as it does without dialogue or narration. The lush settings enhance the richness of the animation.

Who You Think I Am (Celle que Vous Croyez)

Friday, 8.45pm, Gate Cinema

Iconic French actress Juliette Binoche has been widely praised for her performance in this blend of drama and thriller. It tells of a 50-year-old woman who creates a fake online profile of a woman half her age. But when she and a man fall for each other online, she is left with the most dangerous of dilemmas.

One critic called Binoche’s performance: “graceful and compelling - even when she is at her most unhinged”.

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