Thursday, 6/15/2017

Barefoot in Paris

20 Films from France at Munich 2017



With 20 films across five sidebars, French cinema is vibrant as ever at this year's FILMFEST MÜNCHEN - across all styles and genres, from avantgarde to mainstream, from literary adaptation to animation, from deep philosophy to light entertainment – political, aesthetic, narrative, visionary – France continues to lead the world along with the USA as movie-making nations. Add to that the many French-funded co-pros in the festival program – countless films from Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Latin American would never have seen the light of day without Gallic backing – here is a brief look at the 20 mainly French productions this year in Munich.

French films frequenly deal with art, music, literature and the movies themselves. From Michel Hazanavicius’ satiric and controversial look at a specific phase in the artistic and romantic life of his version of Jean-Luc Godard, bravely caricatured by Louis Garrel (REDOUBTABLE), or Arnaud Desplechin's film within a film within a film labyrinth ISMAEL’S GHOSTS, which takes place entirely in the enigmatic brain of a hallucinating  movie director - or does it? - (with an amazing ensemble of stars: Mathieu Amalric, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Marion Cotillard, and, again, Louis Garrel), the  movies are well at home in France, home of its inventors, the Lumières.


More than any other film nation, French filmmakers deal with the process of artistic creation, with success and failure, pain and euphoria, with artistic self-doubt and delusions of grandeur. Vincent Lindon, who won best Actor at Cannes 2015 for THE MEASURE OF A MAN, plays sculpting genius RODIN, and Italian shooting star Sveva Alviti plays the legendary crooner DALIDA, viscerally embodying the artist's struggle for personal expression – both Lindon and Alviti will come to Munich to present their films in person. POLINA is wholly devoted to the airy yet painfully grounded world of a Russian ballet student who wants to "make it" to Paris, vigorously and rigorously staged by Valérie Müller and star choreographer Angelin Preljocaj. THE PARIS OPERA is a rare peek behind the scenes of the world-famous stage, including a fascinating rehearsal by Italian stage visionary Romeo Castellucci.

From the literary world comes Stéphane Brizé's (LA LOI DU MARCHÉ) Maupassant adaptation A WOMAN'S LIFE, one of the top films of last year's Venice film festival. Juliette Binoche, Judith Chemla and newcomer Noée Abita in films as divers as our opening film, tragicomic romantic  drama BRIGHT SUNSHINE IN by Claire Denis, bright family comedy A BUN IN THE OVEN by Nadège Loiseau and Léa Mysius' wonderful debut AVA, one of the key films in this year's Filmfest motto Youth on the Move.


France is also on the cutting edge of modern political developments. Witness THIS IS OUR LAND by Lucas Belvaux (who screened his legendary Trilogy at Munich 2003), a biting satire about the rise of the Front National. I STILL HIDE TO SMOKE is a brave look at the microcosm inhabited by modern-day women in male-dominated Algeria. SWEAT RAIN  depicts a rural Moroccan diaspora in iconographic images. Tightly staged drama HEAL THE LIVING by feted young director Katell Quillévéré (UN POISON VIOLENT) deals with organ donors and organ harvesting.

Three magnificent  animated films show us how much adults are missing out on: AZUR & ASMAR: THE PRINCES’ QUEST and IVAN TSAREVITCH AND THE CHANGING PRINCESS by legendary cutout animator Michel Ocelot, as well as LOUISE BY THE SHORE by veteran 2D animator Jean-François Laguionie, unfold their colorful magic and touching poetry on the big screen best of all.


The world of Parisian artist couple Dominique Abel and Fiona Gordon is iconoclastic and bizarre, surreal and picturesque, often evoking the absurd slapstick of Jacques Tati in LOST IN PARIS. In his sensitive, autobiographic documentation CARRE 35, actor Eric Caravaca digs for traces of his sister, who died under mysterious circumstances. And Julien Samani follows the poetic odyssey of a young man growing up in THE YOUNG ONE.


French cinema – stylistically unorthodox and eclectically poetic like few other filmmaking nations – is at the top of its art at FILMFEST MÜNCHEN 2017.

FILMFEST MÜNCHEN would like to thank UNI FRANCE, Institut français Germany and Institut français in Munich.

Bernhard Karl


CineMasters Competition
BRIGHT SUNSHINE IN, Claire Denis  (Opening Film)
REDOUBTABLE, Michel Hazanavicius
ISMAEL’S GHOSTS, Arnaud Desplechin  

CineVision Competition
AVA, Léa Mysius

A BUN IN THE OVEN, Nadège Loiseau
DALIDA, Lisa Azuelos
LOUISE BY THE SHORE, Jean-Francois Laguionie
RODIN, Jacques Doillon
THIS IS OUR LAND, Lucas Belvaux
A WOMAN'S LIFE, Stéphane Brizé

International Independents
CARRÉ 35, Eric Caravaca
HEAL THE LIVING, Katell Quillévéré
LOST IN PARIS, Dominique Abel & Fiona Gordon
THE PARIS OPERA, Jean-Stéphane Bron
POLINA, Valérie Müller & Angelin Preljocaj
SWEAT RAIN, Hakim Belabbes
THE YOUNG ONE, Julien Samani