_ ' Jours de féte
Vive le cine’ma, reckons Hannah Fries as she previews Scotland’s Third French Film Festival.
Who wants to see ﬁlms by the French“? Actually. the French do. and that is no mere inevitability. Born out of a common history of crises in European cinema and battling for a share of the market against the American Goliath. the buoyant French national ﬁlm industry is an almost unique achievement. Consequently, whenever a beleagured European ﬁlmmaker wants to campaign on behalf of their own indiginous ﬁlm industry, they will most often point to the greener grass of France, and the subsidies and protective laws which operate there. France is now the third largest ﬁlm producing nation in the world. after India and America. lts home market is one of the largest in Europe and. in 1993, French ﬁlms outgrossed American competitors to become the ﬁrst (Les Visiteurs) and third (Germinal) biggest hits at the national box ofﬁce.
From this impressive context. a smattering of French cinema has travelled to Scotland for the Third French Film Festival, which opens simultaneously in Glasgow and Edinburgh this month. As the French come in search of a bigger market. so the Festival is billed as an opportunity for Scottish ﬁlrngoers to sample a wider selection of French fare than is usually accessible to an audience outside of France. Allan Hunter and Richard Mowe, the Festival organisers. conceive of the event as a ‘showcase for the very best of le eine’ma jrancais‘ which is set to expand our limited conception of French ﬁlms. So.
goodbye Gerard Depardieu and the New Wave? Well, no, actually. lf French cinema is
not exactly synonymous with the New Wave, this movement in France's cinema history nevertheless remains the decisive influence upon contemporary French ﬁlmmakers. and that heritage features prominently in this Festival. As well as ﬁlms by Jean~Luc Godard
(starring Gerard Depardieu. in fact) and
Eric Rohmcr. the Festival includes works by young directors which are positioned in conscious relation to the New Wave. ‘We think the “ﬁrst ﬁlms“ add up to a new New Wave.‘ explains Richard Mowe. ‘and the debut directors will eventually earn their place alongside the Godards of the world.’ But not everyone is waiting for the French with open arms. While the British might regard their own film industry with a collective sigh of despair. many at home remain suspicious ofthe French experience. Perhaps there is simply a problem with subtitles in general, but some have argued that the French-type system of state-subsidies for ﬁlms cr ‘ates a
dependent industry which churns out unpopular and unwatched ﬁlms. Others argue that a ‘national' cinema is a parochial concept altogether. Whatever the reason. French cinema has not as yet stamped itselfso convincingly upon the international market as it has at home.
Mowe, while remaining realistic, takes issue with such cynicism. ‘We don’t have any problems convincing the people we bring over of the worth of coming to Scotland,‘ he says. pointing to enthusiastic arthouse audiences here. The programme of ﬁlms he and Allan Hunter have selected is varied and unpredictable, and includes a selection of ﬁlms from ﬁrst-time ﬁlmmakers. a number of shorts from the Brest Short Film Festi 'al and other more star-studded features which contain the likes of Beatrice Dalle, Jean-Hughes Anglade and Anne Parillaud. While admitting to some degree ofa culture gap is possible in the transition across the Channel. the
Festival organisers are conﬁdent that the ﬁlms showing are not conﬁned to a narrow, nationalist base. Metisse, a comedy influenced by Spike Lee, has found an outlet in the States. for example, and the short ﬁlm Emilie Muller has already been lauded in Britain.
Among its other cultural contributions, the French Film Festival is bound to highlight the debate about our own under-funded ﬁlm industry. It is a revealing coincidence that the Festival programme contains almost as many films in total (25) as were made in all of Britain in the whole of last year. The Festival could, then, emerge not only as a ‘showcase’ for French ﬁlmmakers, but a platform for their industry. Perhaps. in Scotland, the case fora distinctly national cinema will fall on open ms.
The Third French Film Festival runs from Friday 2/ until Sunday 30 ()(‘tober at the Glasgort' Film Theatre and Edinburgh Film/rouse.
The List selects the highlights of this year’s Frech Film Festival-
I A la Folie The latest ﬁlm by Diane Kurys, director of Diabolo Menthe.
Coup De F oudre and Aprés L'Amour, is a heated melodrama sparked by the
close-knit lives of two sisters. played by Anne Parillaud and Beatrice Dalle. Sibling rivalry, with a twist ofGallic passion. The Festival organisers hope that Parillaud will attend screenings; Dalle can also be seen in Claire Denis's rJ 'Ai Pas Sommeil. Glasgorr': Sat 22. 7.45pm; Sun 23, 8.30pm. Edinburgh: Fri 2/. 8pm; Thurs 2 7, 6pm. I [as Marmottes With a cast that includes Jean-Hughes Anglade. Jacqueline Bisset and Anouk Aimee, director Elie Chouraqui discovers deeper emotions running below the surface of an annual Christmas holiday enjoyed by a group of friends. Fine ensemble playing and precise characterations give the lightweight structure some depth. Glasgow: Sun 23. 5.45pm; Fri 28. 5.45pm. Edinlnirgh: Fri 2]. 3pm; Sat 22. 8.15pm. I Les ﬂoseaux Sauvages Two of the most popular French ﬁlms on the arthouse circuit in recent years were Andre Techiné‘s J 'Embrasse Pas and Ma Saison Prefere’e. His latest work is a period coming-of-age piece, which brings a young Algerian to a boarding school in south-west France during the political turmoil of 1962. Glasgow: Sun
30, 7.45pm. Edinburgh: Fri 21 . 5.45pm: Sat 29. 7.45pm.
I Hélas Pour Moi Two living legends of French cinema — Gerard Depardieu and Jean-Luc Godard — come together for this witty modern allegory based on the Greek tale of Alcrnene and Arnphitryon. Depardieu plays a God- like figure who discovers the joys and woes of human life in a small Swiss village. Godard. one eye always on politics. uses his material to make references to the current situation in Bosnia. Glasgow: The 25. 6pm. Edinburgh: Sat 22, 6pm; Mon 24. 3pm. I Basque Bleu Gerard Jugnot directs and stars in this comedy about an errant husband who takes his wife (Victoria Abril) on a second honeymoon, only to end up in a war situation. A late addition to the programme, it screens a week after the main section of the Festival ends. Glasgorr': Sun 6. 8pm. Edinburgh: Sat 5, 7.30pm.
I Métisse The work of 26-year-old Mathicu Kassovitz has been compared to Spike Lee and Woody Allen rather than any of his countrymen. This, his ﬁrst feature. is a fast~paced inter-racial comedy which stars the writer-director
as a Jewish bike courier who shares a West Indian girlfriend with an African law graduate. When she announces that she is pregnant. but isn‘t sure who the father is. any notions of animosity must be pushed to the side. Glasgow: Fri 2/. 6pm. Edinburgh: Tues 25, 3pm.
I La Folie Douce Another of this
y 'ar’s strong feature debuts, this energetic look at twentysornethings was shot by 25-year-old Frederic Jardin on the streets of Paris in a mere three weeks. Inevitably, it's romance that is the primary concern amongst this hip ensemble. but Jardin's use of dialogue and locations is fresh and stylish. Glasgow: Tue 25. 8.45pm. Edinburgh: Mon 24. 8.45pm.
I The Harcourt Studios In its heyday. the Harcourt Studios were the foremost celebrity photographers in France. Stars of stage and screen - from Jean Cocteau to Yves Montand to Brigitte Bardot — were captured in a flattering light, bestowing on them a mythical glamour. This exhibition complements the Festival, and can be seen at Glasgow's Artworks Gallery and Edinburgh's Royal Museum Of Scodand.
The List 21 October—3 November I994 17