16th French Film Festival

A vicarious ride through France
By Earl D.C. Bracamonte


Dominique Farrugia's comedy caper 'Le Marquis' opens this year's installment of the annual French Festival. Shot in Cebu last year, and with a cameo appearance by actor Joel Torre, the 98-minute feature film is the first French-Filipino movie co-production in history.
Le Marquis is the story of Thomas Gardesse, a traveling alarm systems salesman who is arrested for a minor offense and sentenced to six months imprisonment. To win the respect of his fellow inmates, he claims he is “The Marquis,” a brilliant robber whose identity has remained a mystery. Two weeks before his release, an armed robber named Quentin Tasseau helps him escape and takes him to Manila so he can take part in a robbery whose mastermind requires the talents of the famed Marquis.
The French Film Festival is a testimony to the vibrant relations between France and the Philippines through cinema. During a recent visit of Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) chairman Briccio G. Santos to France, to attend the Cannes Film Festival, meetings were arranged in Paris with his counterparts in the French National Center for Cinema (CNC) as well as visits to the French Archives, the Cinematheque, and the National Audiovisual Institute. He was also received at the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where he presented his intentions to strengthen further the burgeoning Philippine film industry through government support. The French Embassy to the Philippines will develop, hopefully, a long-term institutional cooperation with the FDCP to bring in French expertise and share best practices to support its program, as well as provide training for Filipino film archivists.
This year's line-up includes Luc Besson's comic book adventure Adele Blanc Sec (2010) and the animation Arthur 2: Revenge of Maltazard (2009); Katell Quillevere's coming-of-age drama Un Poison Violent (Love Like Poison, 2010); Nicolas Bary's children adventure Les Enfants de Timpelbach (Trouble at Timpeltill, 2008); Patrick Mario Bernard & Pierre Trividic's love drama L'Autre (The Other One, 2008); Jean Pascal Hattu's fidelity drama 7 Ans (7 Years); Magaly Richard-Serrano's sibling rivalry Dans les Cordes (Inside the Ring, 2006); Laurent Achard's domestic drama Le Dernier des Fous (The Last Among the Crazy Ones, 2006); and Carine Tardieu's love drama La tete de Maman (Mother's Smile, 2005).
The festival also includes restrospectives on famed French actress Sandrine Bonnaire and Filipino director Auraeus Solito, whose latest work 'Busong' was screened at the Cannes Film Festival this year as part of the Directors' Fortnight. Solito's films will be shown exclusively on June 12, Philippine Independence Day.
Bonnaire's film line-up includes Maurice Pialat's 1983 romance flick A Nos Amours (To Our Lovers); Agnes Varda's 1985 whodunit movie Sans Toit Ni Loi (Vagabond); Claude Chabrol's 1995 personality portrait La Ceremonie (A Judgment in Stone); Philippe Loiret's 2000 search-for-love movie Mademoiselle; Caroline Bottaro's 2009 chess drama Joueuse (Queen to Play); and her self-made 2007 documentary on an autistic sibling Elle s'appelle Sabine (Her name is Sabine).
The Sandrinne Bonnaire cycle consists of six films available in 35mm-format with sub-titles in English, Spanish and Portuguese. It is reserved for non-commercial distribution outside of France under the aegis of the cultural institutions of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs. Subject to current rights, the films are intended for public showing as part of events organized by the cultural developments of embassies, centers and institutes worldwide, in partnership with the National Film Archives, French cinema festivals as well as other international festivals.
Traditionally, the French Filmfest pays tribute to Philippine cinema by featuring films by Filipino directors who have been invited to France by prestigious festivals like the Clermont-Ferrand Short-Film Festival and the Cannes Film Festival.
Solito's film line-up includes his documentary Basal Banar (Sacred Ritual of Truth), the 2007 pink comedy Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros, and his 2009 co-ed drama Pisay. The other Independence Day short feature will be Henry Burgos' 5-minute obra Painted Reality.
Formerly one of the highlights of the erstwhile French Spring in Manila, the annual French Filmfest is now part of FrancoPhil, the French cultural season in the Philippines. FrancoPhil is organized by the Embassy of France to the Philippines and the Alliance Francaise de Manille, together with Institut Francais, the UP Film Institute and the Shang Cineplex.
The 16th French Filmfest runs at the Shangri-La Mall Cinema 4 until June 19th. It will then travel to Ayala Center Cebu on a 3-day stint commencing June 23rd. The filmfest ends its 2011 run at the UP Film Institute with screenings from June 28 to July 2.
For inquiries, simply call the Shang Cineplex box-office through 633-7851 Ext. 113 and/or log-on to www.shangrila-plaza.com for updated screening schedules. The unreserved seats are open to the general public on a first-come, first-served basis.

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