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French Film Week: Gallic goodness hits Berlin

Französische Filmwoche (French Film Week) celebrates its 21st year, and they're doing it in style. Here's what not to miss...

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Leos Carax’s Cannes-winning film Annette screens this year at French Film Week. (Photo: Alamode – Wild Bunch)

Turning 21 this year, Französische Filmwoche (French Film Week) celebrates with an eclectic selection of French and Francophone cinema, marking a great year for established filmmakers and emerging talent.

The excellent line-up of Gallic goodness kicks off on Nov 24 with Catherine Corsini’s La Fracture (The Divide), a breakup drama set against the backdrop of the Parisian Yellow Vest protest. What follows is chockablock full of this year’s Cannes Film Festival’s most memorable titles (naturellement), including Bruno Dumont’s France and François Ozon’s Tout S’est Bien Passé (Everything Went Fine).

The former sees the ubiquitous Léa Seydoux play “France’s top TV journalist” whose life and career are in freefall; it’s a thrilling piece that touches on rating chasing, misplaced media lecturing, and disillusionment at the state of modern French society. The latter sees Ozon cast Sophie Marceau, Charlotte Rampling and André Dussollier to adapt the novel of the same name by Emmanuèle Bernheim, about a woman confronted with her elderly father’s request to help him end his life. Bernheim previously wrote the screenplay of Ozon’s Swimming Pool and 5×2, so based on the strength of these collaborations, that should tell you you’re in for something special.

Among FFW’s hottest tickets this year are a pair of Croisette heavy-hitters from two maverick directors: Leos Carax’s Annette and Paul Verhoeven’s Benedetta. Both films come out in kinos in December and are reviewed in our last issue of the year, so stay tuned for those and I’ll keep things brief: Carax has signed a bizarre and wonderful musical OVNI that is one of 2021’s most memorable films, while Verhoeven’s supposedly subversive sapphic romp fails to materialise as the daringly satirical examination of faith and patriarchal organised religion it could have been.

Rush to book tickets for Annette, feel free to avoid Benedetta and instead nab tickets for three absolute must-sees: Jacques Audiard’s Les Olympiades (Paris, 13th District), which boasts a terrific screenplay by Audiard, Céline Sciamma and Léa Mysius, Valérie Lemercier’s Aline, The Voice of Love, a surprisingly excellent and perfectly measured unofficial Céline Dion ‘biopic’, and the stunning Gagarine, by Fanny Liatard and Jérémy Trouilh.

Gagarine is set in the titular housing block slated for demolition, where a teenage engineer sets out to save his beloved home by turning it into his very own concrete space station. Liatard and Trouilh’s film strikes the perfect chord between melancholic and whimsically fantastical, and the film’s visuals are beautifully transportive. It is set for a release in German kinos in May 2022, so catch it early – you won’t regret it.

Bonnes projections!

Französische Filmwoche (French Film Week) / Cinema Paris, City Kino Wedding, FAF, Kino Arsenal and Kino International. Nov 24 through Dec 1.