Berlin’s French Film Week continues to broaden its horizons.
Now in its 16th year, the FFW is showing an eclectic and exciting mix of French and Francophone cinema. The line-up runs the gamut from superior not-just-for-kids stop-motion drama (My Life as a Courgette) to avant-garde 3D stage adaptation (The Beautiful Days of Aranjuez) to the kind of mainstream biopics (The Odyssey, about Jacques Cousteau) and Gallic comedies so cherished by the German box office (Adopte un Veuf and Radin!).
Among the festival’s hottest tickets is France’s submission for the foreign-language Oscar race, Elle, a late-career masterpiece from Dutch provocateur Paul Verhoeven in which Isabelle Huppert gives perhaps the performance of her career as a steely Parisian video game producer determined not to play the victim after she’s sexually assaulted.
Olivier Assayas’ English-language Personal Shopper is similarly hard to pin down. Kristen Stewart plays the titular celebrity assistant, who also happens to be a medium, awaiting a message from her recently deceased twin brother.
Meanwhile, Kino Arsenal is your destination for under-the-radar gems that might not ever see German release, screened with English subtitles. These include Swagger, a timely and surprisingly exuberant doc about minority teens living in the troubled banlieues, and Pauline s’arrache, a quixotic nonfiction portrait of family, love and relationships as scripted and shot by actress Emilie Brisavoine, the half-sister of the 15-year-old title character. A few directors and actors are expected – check website for details.
French Film Week Nov 30-Dec 7 | Cinema Paris and Arsenal