The 11th Annual Focus on French Film, the acclaimed showcase for new cinema from France and across the French-speaking world, returns to Connecticut and New York March 27- 31 with an exciting lineup of 16 feature films, including one World Premiere, six U.S. Premieres and 25 César Nominations among them.
The festival, which takes place at Greenwich’s Bow Tie Cinemas in Connecticut and the IFC Center and FIAF in New York, will open with the U.S. Premiere of Jean-Paule Rouve’s family dramedy “Memories (Les Souvenirs).” Following César Nominations for Best Actress and Best First Film, the comedic thriller “Number One Fan (Elle l’adore)” will close the festival. Also screening is the highly acclaimed “Timbuktu,” nominated for the Best Foreign Language Oscar, and Alain Resnais’ final film, “Life of Riley.”
“Our selection this year showcases the main strengths of contemporary French and francophone cinema, ranging from popular genre to art film, shorts, animation, and documentary,” said Anne Kern, Director of Programming for FFC 2015, in a statement. “The films we are presenting touch on some of the most important topics of our time, including religious, cultural and sexual difference, immigration, competition, and celebrity culture.”
The complete lineup is as follows:
“Memories (Les Souvenirs)”
Director: Jean-Paul Rouve
Starring: Annie Cordy, Michel Blanc, Mathieu Spinosi and Chantal Lauby
23-year-old Romain aspires to be a writer but is currently working as night watchman in a hotel. His 62 year old father goes into retirement and pretends indifference. His roommate is 24 and has only one thing on his mind: to seduce each and every girl, any way he can. But the disappearance of his 85-year-old grandmother from a new nursing home will spark Romain to action.
“Life of Riley (Aimer,boire et chante)”
Director: Alain Resnais
Starring: Hippolyte Girardot, Sabine Azéma, André Dussolier and Sandrine Kiberlain
In the Yorkshire countryside, the life of three couples is upset for a few months, from spring to fall, by the enigmatic behavior of their friend George Riley. Winner of the FIPRESCI and Albert Bauer Awards at the 2014 Berlin Festival.
“Under the Starry Sky (Des Etoiles)”
Director: Dyana Gaye
Starring: Ralph Amoussou, Mareme Demba Ly, Souleymane Seye N’Diaye
Sophie, 22, leaves Dakar to join her husband, Abdoulaye, in Turin. However, Abdoulaye has left for New York through a smuggler’s network. 19-year-old Thierno is traveling to Africa for the first time. The drama takes us on a journey with these three characters, scouring and wandering among the diversity of cities across three continents and confronting us with the realities, hopes and dreams of contemporary emigration.
Director: Thomas Lilti
Starring: Vincent Lacoste, Reda Kateb, Jacques Gamblin, Marianne Denicourt
Benjamin is meant to be a great doctor, he’s certain of it. But his first experience as a junior resident in the hospital ward where his father works does not turn out the way he hoped it would. Nominated for 7 César Awards. Winner of the César for the Best Supporting Actor for Reda Kate.
“The Little Queen (La Petite Reine)”
Director: Alexis Durand Brault
Starring: Laurence Leboeuf, Patrice Robitaille, Denis Bouchard
Based on the true story of one of the biggest scandals in Québec’s history, the follows Julie, a young cycling star, two races away from winning the World Cup – her reward for years of intense training. Then Julie is denounced for doping. Alone and with no knowledge of the world outside the realm of racing, Julie must find a way out.
Director: Lea Fazer
Starring: Pio Marmai, Michael Lonsdale, Deborah François and Alice Belaidi
Henri, a young actor who wants nothing more than to star in The Fast and the Furious, gets a part in the latest film of Cédric Rovère, a monument of auteur cinema. The filming conditions aren’t exactly what Henri expected, but his acting partner’s charm and the film master’s benevolence will make him grow and express feelings he had never known before.
Director: Amderrahmane Sissako
Starring: Ahmed Ibrahim, Toulou Kiki and Abel Jafri
Not far from Timbuktu, now ruled by religious fundamentalists, Kidane lives peacefully in the dunes with his wife Satima, his daughter Toya and Issan, their 12-year-old shepherd. In town, people suffer, powerless, from the regime of terror imposed by the Jihadists, determined to impose their faith. Winner of 7 2015 César Awards including Best Film, Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Sound, Best Original Score, Best Screenplay et Best Editing. The film was also nominated for Best Foreign film at the 2015 Oscars.
“May Allah Bless France! (Qu’Allah bénisse la France)”
Director: Abd Al Malik
Starring: Marc Zinda, Sabrina Ouazani, Larouci Didi, Michael Nagenraft
The true story of a French teenager escaping the underprivileged suburbs through love, education and rap music. Regis is a culturally gifted boy who dreams of success for his rap band through hard work and loyalty, but he must accept drug money for the sake of his project. Discovering Islam and music, he bears with the harsh loss and paybacks of delinquency, until he finds from within the strength to express himself through rap music and slampoetry — and ultimately becomes a major artist of the French music scene.
“Once in a Lifetime (Les Heritiers)”
Director: Marie-Castille Mention Schaar
Starring: Ariane Ascaride, Ahmed Dramé,Noémi Merlanat, Geneviève Mnich, Stéphane Bak
Based on a true story, a teacher at the Léon Blum high school – in a tough Parisian suburb – enters her struggling 10th-grade class in a national history contest to examine the Holocaust from the point of view of its impact on young people. Nominated for the 2015 César for Most Promising Actor for Ahmed Dramé.
“I Kissed a Girl (Toute Premiere Fois)”
Director: Noemi Saglio and Maxine Govare
Starring: Pio Marmai, Franck Gastambide, Adrianna Gradziel ,Lannick Gautry, and Camille Cottin
Jeremie, 34 years old, awakes one morning in an unknown apartment in bed with Adna, a beautiful Swede as funny as she is charming. Is this the beginning of a fairy tale? Highly doubtful as Jérémie is gay and about to get married to Antoine. Winner of 4 awards at Alpes d’Huez film festival, including the Grand Prize, Audience Award and Best Actor.
“Minuscule: Valley of the Lost Ants”
Director” Helene Giraud and Thomas Szabo
In a peaceful little clearing, the remains of a picnic hastily abandoned during a summer storm spark warfare between two tribes of ants. At stake is a box of sugar. A bold young ladybug finds himself caught in the middle of the battle. He befriends one of the black ants and helps him save the anthill from the assault of the terrible red ant warriors. Winner of the 2015 César Award for Best Animated Film.
Director: Eugene Green
Starring: Fabrizio Rongione, Christelle Prot, Ludovico Succio and Arianne Nastro
At the height of his career, Alexandre decides to set off for Italy with the idea of completing his draft – interrupted years earlier – of a book on Borromini. He is accompanied by his wife Alienor who feels her relationship with her husband gradually slipping away along with the passion it used to inspire. Having reached Stresa they happen to meet Goffredo and Lavinia, a pair of siblings who live there: the former is about to embark in architectural studies, the second is suffering from a nervous disorder.
Director: Mathieu Urfer
Starring: Baptiste Gilliéron, Julia Faure, André Wilms and Nils Althaus.
Sami, a laid-back songwriter, is shocked when Julia, a brilliant lawyer with whom he’s been living for the last four years, decides to put their relationship on hold. Coached by his old friend Fernand, an alcoholic country musician living in a nursing home for the elderly, he tries to achieve the impossible to prove to her she’s the only woman for him.
“Asterix and the Land of the Gods”
Director: Louis Clichy and Alexandre Astier
Starring: Lorant Deutsch, Laurent Lafitte, Alain Chabat, Florence Foresti
Julius Caesar unveils his latest plan to get rid of those indomitable Gauls once and for all. As his army has not been able to crush “ the last pocket of resistance”, he decides to try a stealth invasion: civilization delivered to the village gates! He builds a new Rome- The Land of the Gods – around Asterix’s village, pressuring the Gauls to assimilate or vanish
“The Clearstream Affair (L’Enquete)”
Director: Vincent Garenq
Starring: Gilles Lellouche, Charles Berling, Laurent Capelluto
The journalist Denis Robert sparked a storm in the world of finance in France by denouncing the murky operations of Clearstream, a banking firm. His quest for truth and his attempts to reveal the “Affaire des affaires” connects with the investigation carried out by Judge Renaud Van Ruymbeke, deeply committed to fighting against corruption.
“The Pursuit of Endurance… On the Shoulders of Shackleton”
Director: Luc Hardy
100 years after the epic Endurance expedition, nine adventurers follow in the footsteps of the explorer Ernest Shackleton, hero of one of the greatest survival stories of Antarctic exploration. Their goal, relive part of the epic voyage of the 1914 team, but also live a personal adventure 800 miles between Elephant Island and South Georgia in a sailing boat on skis ,and iva pulka ( a reindeer-drawn sleigh) while gathering information and oceanographic and scientific data which will provide for a better understanding of this part of the world.
“On the Way to School (Su le Chemin de l’Ecole)”
Director: Pascal Plisson
The children depicted in this film have understood that only education will allow them to improve their lives, so they set out on hugely risky journeys through extraordinary landscapes on their quest for knowledge. Winner of the 2014 César for Best Documentary Film.
“Number One Fan (Elle l’Adore)”
Director: Jeanne Herry
Starring: Sandrine Kiberlain, Laurent Lafitte, Pascal Demolon
Muriel Bayan is a divorced beautician and mother of two who loves to tell stories. And for the past two decades, Muriel has been the number one fan of French crooner Vincent Lacroix. Most of her spare time is dedicated to keeping up with his songs and his concerts. Then one night, she opens her door to find Vincent – her idol – standing on her doorstep. His arrival turns Muriel’s life upside down as she embarks on a journey that even she couldn’t have imagined.