BEE!— French class

about what isn't showing this year when so many excellent films are. The

3 French Film Festival's growing reputation means that. for I995. it has new work from directors Claude

: Lelouch, Regis Wargnier. Claude

Now in its fourth year, the French Film Festival } boasts its strongest programme yet, reckons Alan Morrison. I

Daniel Auteuil and Emmanuelle Béart In Une Femme Francalse

I Sautet and Agnes Varda, as well as from actors Daniel Auteuil.

Emmanuelle Bean. Jean—Paul

' Belmondo. Jean-Hughes Anglade. , Richard Bohringer and the gallery of screen luminaries that turn up in

Varda's Les Cent et Une Nuits - from Mastroianni to De Niro. from Deneuvc

to Moreau. This big name. mainstream I contingent doesn't tnean. ofcourse.

that the Festival is ignoring new talent: in association with Hennessy Cognac. its Audience Prize will go to one of seven films from first or second-time directors. In this category, the titles to watch out for are Xavier Beauvois’s

E tough AIDS drama N'Oublie Pas Que

Tu Vas Mourir and the sharp coming-

: of-age tale Trop De Bonheur.

Avoiding accusations of merely being

' an excuse to preview forthcoming atthouse releases. the event truly

captures a festival spirit in four major

3 ways: its insistence on giving equal

billing to films that are extretnely unlikely to be shown in Scotland in the

near future. ifever; its two

‘The Scots will over-praise any French import above the English one.‘ stated a recent letter to the British Film lnstitute‘s Sig/rt And Sound magazine. Even if the writer was taking a deliberately contentious stance. there is surely a little truth in his allegations about a tnore positively Francophile culture north of the border the Auld Alliance. and all that. It's there to be seen in cinema attendances: while Scottish filrngoers (and English too. it i has to be said) will often wait fora British film to be a proven hit in America before they‘ll venture out to see it on home turf. a French title will immediately find a more welcoming market.

‘l’eople are prepared to turn out for a French filrn that they've never heard of. I with people that they've probably never heard of.‘ says Richard Mowe. co- director of the annual French Film Festival, which begins its fourth consecutive run in Glasgow and Edinburgh later this month. 'An audience will take it on trust because it's part of a festival. We feel that. if you can do that with films that have absolutely no advance hype at all. then clearly there is an eager audience in Scotland for all kinds of French cinema.‘

Audiences have certainly been convinced by Mowe and fellow journalist and co-director Allan Hunter‘s previous efforts. The French themselves also seem to believe that the Scottish event is the best launching pad for their cinema in the UK moves are afoot with the French Embassy and Cultural Attache in London for more formalised support. with the Scottish festival mirroring the annual festival of 3 British films in Dinard. But while certain film distribution companies recognise the benefits of this showcase noting that it has strengthened the film-going base for French movies in this country. leading to box office advantages all year round others have i been slow to respond.

It seems churlish. however. to talk

: The French Film Festival begins on : Friday 24 November at tlte Glasgow


i retrospectives. one on Claude Lelouch (featuring the world‘s only English

subtitled print of Un Homme et Une

1 Femme). the other on Matthieu

Kassovitz (whom even the French

regard warily after his searing La

‘People are prepared to turn out tor a French film that they’ve never heard of, with people that they’ve probably never heard at. An audience will take It on trust because it’s part of a iestlval.’

Haine ); its debates, which this

year will encompass US remakes

(Mowe reckons NeufMois is ‘a sharper. I spikier movie. much funnier than the ' Hugh Grant version') and the ongoing

battle between subtitles and dubbing (Un Indien Dans La Ville. which equalled The Lion King at the French box office, will screen in both forms. with the director. producer and stars in attendance to note the different audience reactions); and its guests.

which should include actor Thierry

Lhermitte and directors Agnes Varda

and Regis Wargnier.

It's an extremely diverse programme. one that like French cinema in

. general is able to appeal to film-goers I of all generations because filmmakers

of all generations continue to be involved in the industry. Nevertheless. Mowe does see common themes

f emerging. ‘French cinema has always

. been concerned with relationships.

There are no action movres in the French Film Festival. these are all very

personal dramas about relationships. This is something we almost expect from the French, but perhaps no other

cinema in the world does with such

thoroughness and delicacy.‘

Film Theatre and Edinburgh F ilmhouse. running until Sunday 3


,LES MtsénAetes

“f 2' .-mt

, . A \

Now here’s a surprise. Claude lelouch, a mainstay of the French commercial cinema but deeply uniashionable in critical circles elsewhere, suddenly turns up with a vast and vastly enioyable 20th century epic deserving as wide an audience as A Man And A Woman, the chic love story that made his name all those years ago. No, it's not the musical or even a straight adaptation, but a story of trial, tribulation and coincidence that makes Belmondo’s protagonist a brother to Hugo’s own hero. In a performance of old-fashioned star charisma, he

survives prison, the boxing ring and two World Wars, yet it’s the film’s


unllinching depiction of France’s treatment of the Jews under the Nazi occupation that puts a little iron in the movie’s abundant soul. Three hours ol utter intoxication, it’s the sort of grand old wallow you thought they didn’t make any more. But they do. (Trevor Johnston)

les Miserables (12) (Claude Lelouch, France, 1995) Jean-Paul Belmondo,

Michel Bouienah, Annie Giradot. 177 mins. Fri 24: Edinburgh Filmhouse. Sat 25: Glasgow Film Theatre.

a‘ -.

Nobody can tell me what Gazon Maudit means, but apparently it’s an X-rated

double entendre - which is quite fitting, because this is a very funny sex comedy, a rampant celebration of the libido and its failure to respect the heterosexual rule book. The film’s writer-director Josiane Balasko (ot Trap Belle Pour Toi tame) also stars as a ballsy dyke who rolls up one day on the doorstep of conventional couple Victoria Abril and Alain Chabat. The husband is an unlaithiul, sexist git and the wife is a patient, sexually open-minded beauty. What happens next is on the cards from the outset, but Gazon Maudit delights

in showing us anyway, and the unlurling drama has plenty of zesty twists. We’re

talking mega-light in the psychology department, of course: these characters

: either have sex or get jealous, but the acting is spot-on, and Balasko is a = skilled director who keeps up such a fluid pace that there really is nothing to . spoil the tun. It all goes in like a mildly intoxicating spoon-teed. (Hannah Fries)

Gazon Maudit (18) (Josiane Balasko, France, 1994) Josiane Balasko, Victoria

, Abril, Alain Chabat. 105 mins. Sun 25/Mon 27: Edinburgh Filmhouse. Sun 3: Glasgow Film Theatre.

'l'lte l.l.\l |7-$() Nov I095 23