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Cinéphiles Unite at the 24th French Film Festival in the Philippines

While the term cinéphile is acknowledged to be of French origin, the French prefer using cinéastes to describe those with a passionate interest in the cinema and film theory. Whichever term you prefer, it’s no coincidence that we’re talking French, as beyond the fact that the Lumière brothers are considered among the first filmmakers in history (holding screenings in 1895), it’s once again time for the annual French Film Festival Fête du Cinéma here in Manila—from June 12 to 18.

 

Nikki Huang and Mitch Suarez of SSI’s Lacoste join the French Embassy, the FDCP, and SPARK! for a photo.

 

Without a doubt, this annual film fest is a red letter week for Filipino cinema lovers, as the organizers truly make the effort to bring both important and current films to screen during the week. From dramas to comedies, from animation to documentaries, it’s not rare to even find films that just screened at Cannes the previous year. And this year’s crop lives up to this ongoing legacy.

 

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French Ambassador Nicolas Galey, talking about the upcoming French Film Festival.

 

Special guest for the screening of his L’incroyable histoire du Facteur Cheval is its director Nils Tavernier (son of the legendary director, Bertrand Tavernier). The true story of a simple postman who had this dream of building a castle for his daughter, and how he accomplished this over three decades during the 19th century. The film is a testament to perseverance, determination, and family.

 

 

There are 15 contemporary French films being screened, and the French Embassy along with SPARK! will have a special screening of Bande de filles (Girlhood), a Drama about the realities of being a 16-year old girl and growing up in a world of prohibition and restraint. There are also screenings of Philippine films that have had recent connections to France—either screened at Cannes or other festivals held in France, or partly financed by the Institut Français, or partly shot in Paris.

 

 

We were treated to a screening of Le Grand Bain (Sink or Swim); and it’s a wonderful comedy, with tears, about 40-something men in mid-life crisis, facing challenges about their inadequacies and finding gainful employment, and seeking redemption from the most unlikeliest of places—the local swimming pool and synchronized swimming.

 

 

On the documentary front, the one I would highly recommend is Varda by Agnès; something akin to an autobiography from this very unique film director, who just recently passed away.

 


There’s a comedic update on the Jekyll and Hyde story via Madame Hyde and it stars the ever-dependable and fascinating Isabelle Huppert.

 

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For fans of Pierre Niney, who portrayed Yves Saint Laurent in the 2014 film, he’s back in La Promesse de l’Aube (Promise At Dawn), which explores the life of Romain Gary, the famous writer, and his relationship with his mother.

 


Here in Manila, it’s the Greenbelt 3 and Bonifacio High Street Cinemas screening these French films; and Cebu, Davao, and Bacolod’s Ayala Cinemas are participating as well. Please head to the website or their Facebook page for the details on the other films, and their screening times. And I’ll see you at the cinema!

 

Event photos courtesy of Philip Cu-Unjieng