After last year’s successful edition, Rendezvous with French Cinema is back for its 5th Edition and we absolutely can’t wait! A celebration of French cinema, which is one of the most unique and fascinating medium of storytelling, it will be happening from 4 to 13 December 2015! Its goal is to bring the Cannes experience to Singapore and this year, out of the 20 movies presented, 5 were part of the 2015 Cannes Film Festival including the Palme d’Or winner! 20 different amazing selections might prove a little too many for the average Joe, so we’ve narrowed it down to 6 films that you absolutely have to catch!
Dheepan, directed Jacques Audiard was the 2015 Palme d’Or winner and rightfully so. A compelling story of Dheepan, a former Tamil Tiger soldier in the Sri Lankan Civil War, who after the conflict moves to France as a political asylum. However, in order to secure asylum, he requires a backstory with the relevant paperwork. With that, he acquires a new name and together with 2 complete strangers who pose as both his wife and child, he moves to France. While the bullets have disappeared, another conflict rages, a conflict of identity. A brilliant movie requires a compelling story as well as performances from the actors to bring the story to life and this is a film where both qualities are in abundance.
2. Ice and the Sky (La Glace et Le Ciel)
The closing film of the 2015 Cannes Film Festival, this is a documentary that sheds light on a subject that is fast becoming out of the minds of the world. This documentary focuses on Claude Lorius, a French scientist who became famous for his studies on Antarctic ice. In 1965, he was the first scientist to be concerned about global warming to much derision around the world and in the scientific community. Just as his views were overlooked in 1965, resistance towards the idea of global warming persists to this day and lethargy towards any action is larger than before. This documentary serves as a beautiful reminder on the dangers that our environment is in as well as the beauty of our world that we must protect.
3. My Golden Days (Trois Souvenirs de ma Jeunesse)
Directed by Arnaud Desplechin, described as “one of France’s most prodigious filmmaking talents and a five time Cannes competition veteran,” this is a sprawling epic that should not be missed. Professor-anthropologist Paul Dedalus is returning to Paris after years working in Tajikstan which triggers a series of memories and flashbacks. Starting from his youth, his neurotic mother (who later killed herself) and the subsequent dissolution of his father’s mental state of mind. The large part of the film focuses on his teenaged years (a sort of coming-of-age film) as he is joined by his 2 friends and Esther, the center of his life and also the movie. Yet this isn’t some Nicholas Sparks romance movie but one that is frank of the sensuality of young love and the harsh realities of the world. The trailer hints at the life that he once had as a teenager and the life that he has now as an adult and I can’t wait to catch the film to fill up the gaps in between!
4. Girlhood (Bande de Filles)
With an uncanny resemblance to the title of Linklater’s 2014 hit, Boyhood, Girlhood is similarly a coming-of-age film but that’s where the similarities end. Focusing on the life of Marieme, a black girl who lives in a rough neighbourhood who joins a ‘gang’ of girls. Where this film excels in is a uncensored look at girls, their strength and passion to live as they want to, undeterred by lottery of life – their pre-determined social status, ethnicity, gender. Take a read of this excerpt from the review of the film by Boston Globe, “There’s a shot in “Girlhood” that’s one of the most heart-stopping things I’ve ever seen. It comes midway through Céline Sciamma’s sober, ecstatic, wrenching film: a simple tracking shot from right to left that takes in the faces of about 12 teenage girls, all Parisian, all poor, all daughters of the African diaspora. They’re out for a sunny afternoon on the plaza of La Grande Arche, not far from the gritty high-rise banlieue where they live, and their faces are alive with chatter and possibility. They’re outrageously, unselfconsciously beautiful, and their beauty comes from the strength they show only to each other.”
5. La Famille Belier
The entire list of recommendations thus far have been movies with serious topics, films with a story to tell however, French cinema is also famed for their comedies and La Famille Belier is the feel-good comedy of the this year’s edition of Rendezvous with French Cinema. The film was a huge hit in France when it was screened and tells the story of Paula, an indispensable translator and interpreter for her deaf parents. Because her parents are deaf, they’ve obviously never heard her musical gift which her teacher encourages. However, pursuing singing would mean leaving her family who depend on her for everything from her father’s run in the mayoral elections (she translates his speeches) to their parents’ cringe worthy visit to the doctor for a rash that’s proving to be a hindrance to their intimate activities. For a light hearted comedy with an unexpected tear jerking moment, this is French entertainment at its best.
6. Respire (otherwise known as Breathe)
Breathe will be showing in conjunction with this year’s edition of the Singapore International Film Festival and contains all the anxiety of every teenager ever. Charlie, a simple girl in a simply town has her life turned upside down by Sarah, a free spirited transfer student. They become inseparable and their relationship reaches intensifying levels of intimacy and obsession. But as Sarah’s repressed personality comes to the fore, Charlie finds herself at the receiving end of relentless torments, and both girls find themselves spiralling down a deep gulf of volatility. However, if you’re expecting a film akin to Blue Is The Warmest Colour, you’ll be disappointed but find out why the film is titled Breathe after you’ve held your breathe through the entire film. This is the film that I’m most excited about for sure.
Joe Morgenstern of The Wall Street Journal has this to say “I can tell you that Ms. Laurent’s direction is astute and economical, that both of the film’s young stars give fine performances, and that “Breathe” is a very good title for a film that ever so gradually takes your breath away.”
Tickets are priced at $13 with films being screened at Golden Village, Alliance Francaise, The Cathay Cineplex and Shaw Theatres Lido!