The French Film Festival enters its tenth year by paying its respects to longevity, but also shows an interest in younger filmmakers whose work focuses on the marginal. Words: Tony McKibbin
rom the experienced we have octogenarian Eric
Rohmer's [ﬁxing/(rise et le [)ll('. Betty Fisher
And Other Stories by Claude Miller and Jean Becker‘s Uit Crime air Parudis. while in the ‘outsiders‘ category - those focusing on people outside bourgeois. white culture — you‘ll find Jean- Francois Richet's De 1. 'Anmiir with Virginie Ledoyen and Philippe Faucon‘s .S'amiu.
This isn‘t to say the outsiders are necessarily young guns. The marvellous Samiu is just the first Faucon film most British viewers will have the opportunity to see from a director who has been making features for well over a decade. In .S'rimi'u the teenage title character is told it may be France outside but inside (herself) it‘s Algeria. Faucon. however. is less interested in bold dichotomies than emotional specifics: how can Samia mould an identity for herself out of the twin influences on her life‘.’
The notion of finding a value system one can live by seems equally relevant in Za da Ghorab-Volta‘s Jeunesse (I'()ree. Two girls from the Parisian suburbs journey across France in a battered BMW. taking photos of various housing estates. farms and villages along the way. Certainly their trip is a voyage of self-discovery. but the director‘s especially good at suggesting the self has relatively little to do with it. What‘s of utmost importance is the ability to search out variant milieu as the two girls stop off and chat with the locals and briefly engage with different ways of life. if Samia is
confronted daily by different perspectives by virtue of
her lslamic family upbringing at odds with French materialist culture. Ghorab-Volta's teenage heroines are more consciously searching out alternative possibilities.
24 THE LIST 1:329 Nov 200‘.
At the FFF outsiders aren’t necessarily young guns
The new film by Patrice Laconte, Felix et Lola
While both Faucon and Ghorab-Volta's films
justifiably earn their ‘outsiders’ status. can we
suggest. pejorativer. that Gabriel Aghion‘s Absolument Fabuleux and Jean Becker’s Un Crime au Paradis are ‘insiders‘ movies? Aghion’s film is adapted from the British AbFab series. and has cameo appearances from Jennifer Saunders. Jean-Paul Gaultier and Catherine Deneuve. and stars Josiane Balasko and Nathalie Baye in the Saunders and Joanna Lumley roles. Aghion may be quickly becoming a veteran of the broad farce (Per/ale Doziee. Belle Maman. Le Liberiin) but there's a warmed-over smugness here suggesting that all involved thought the comedic co-ordinates were so obviously in place there was little need to create anything fresh of their own.
Becker‘s film has some of the same self-satisfied predictability. with Balasko (again) and Jacques Villeret a middle-aged married couple keen to bump each other off. There‘s potential here for a wild. The War Of The Roses-style farce. but the film loses comedic impetus at the halfway stage and thereafter plays on Villeret’s hangdog pathos.
Marie-Line is also in essence a pathos film. Tough in the film's initial stages. the title character. a member of the far-right Front Nationale and a night time cleaner in charge of her team. has the sort of character are that serves liberal sentiment so much better than character verisimilitude: by the end of the film she‘s playing Arabic music on her Walkman.
What's so great about Claude Miller is that he‘s always been willing to sacrifice any notion of the arc not just to character specifics. but to the minutiae of behavioural quirks. As he‘s said himself. he‘s never been one for plot. Berry Fisher And Other Stories is thus at its best pinpointing the abnormal yet astutely observed psychic traits. With Sandrine Kiberlain a successful novelist haunted by a childhood incident perpetrated by her mum (Nicole Garcia). this is a generally fine contribution to a festival that is. as always. a healthin mixed-bag.
French Film Festival 16-29 Nov GFT, Glasgow; Filmhouse, Edinburgh. See Film index.
Rough cuts Lights, camera, action . . . WITH ANIMATION ABOUT TO be given its own Oscar. you know the medium is where it's at. The ongoing Successes of the Disney studio (and their rival DreamWorks. which this year produced Shrek to great acclaim) has maintained animation's place as a top money earner. Meanwhile. the quantum leaps made in the field. from the first fully computer animated film Toy Story to the recent photo realistic Final Fantasy. has put animation at the cutting edge of modern cinema. And if you read The List's Scottisn Filmmakers Special issue earlier this year. yOu’ll be aware that Scotland has more than its share of talent animators.
Only right. then. that animation is celebrated in Projector. a day long event at Glasgow's CCA on Thursday 29 November. Aimed at providing a snapshot of animation today. the event includes two screenings of world class animation (including Don Hertzfeldt‘s Oscar- nominated Rejected). a masterclass on animation run by an industry profeSSional. and a panel debate attended by an award winning animator and Channel 4's animation commissioning editor. Day tickets are £15 (£10) and available from the hotline: 0141 352 4900.
FROM CUTTING EDGE technology to that of the old fashioned type with Clydebank Town Hall’s Mighty Wurlitzer Organ. On Sunday 18 November the Town Hall screens the Buster Keaton classic silent movie The General. to organ accompaniment.
The Wurlizter took three years of painstaking voluntary labour to build and restore, having been discarded in a shed since being dismantled in its original site in a Stockport cinema. Maintaining this marvellous musical instrument is a costly business, so lend your financial support and go see The General the way it was intended to be seen.
The Mighty Wurlitzer Organ