French cinema has a decades-old reputation for being some of the most sophisticated, elegant and groundbreaking of filmmaking. Countless French films are on my must-watch lists. From Amour, to I’ve Loved You So Long and Rust and Bone – I never tire of them. So you can imagine my delight when the Irish Film Institute (IFI) announced the programme for its anticipated French Film Festival, with a selection I’d yet to lay my eyes on. Now in its 18th year, the cultural event runs for twelve days at the IFI from today, Wednesday 15th to Sunday 26th November. Featuring 19 Irish premières, the festival will welcome special guests Oscar-nominated writer-director-actress Agnès Jaoui, and writer-director Léa Mysius.
Below are the five films we’re particularly looking forward to:
First up is Aurora, directed by Blandine Lenoir, and starring Oscar nominee Agnès Jaoui as the eponymous lead. Middle-aged and separated, Aurora has lost her job and is living with her two twenty-something daughters, Lucie and Marina. When Marina tells her she is pregnant, both break down in tears – Marina because she is pregnant, Aurora as she is facing menopause and is about to become a grandmother. A chance meeting however with the love of her youth, Totoche, turns her life around. Agnès Jaoui will attend the film’s screening on Friday, November 17th for a Q&A which we’re giving away tickets to HERE.
Let the Sunshine In is the new film from Claire Denis, which stars the renowned Juliette Binoche as a woman looking for love in a beautifully shot Paris. The opening night screening is already sold out, but the screening on Sunday, November 26th is still available. A charming watch, it premiered at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year.
Félicité is a new film set in the Congo, about a fiercely independent music club performer forced to seek the help of a persistent suitor when her 14-year-old son is involved in a car accident. A beautifully immersive film, with a superb central performance from Véro Tshanda Beya Mputu.
Ava, directed by Léa Mysius (who will also be at the festival for a Q&A), tells the story of a young girl’s last summer before she loses her sight. Despite her mother’s best attempts to make the holiday as memorable as possible, she is drawn to a young Spanish tearaway and his wolfish dog. It’s a beautiful, coming of age story you won’t soon forget.
Finally, the IFI’s closing night film, Léonor Serraille’s Jeune Femme, which won the coveted Caméra d’Or prize at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. It tells the story of Paula, who finds herself alone in Paris after a break-up. With little to her name, other than her brilliantly deadpan white cat, we follow her journey as she bounces from one encounter to the next, transforming as she goes, and eventually stealing your heart.
Tickets for the IFI French Film Festival are now on sale from the IFI Box Office on 01-6793477 and from www.ifi.ie/frenchfest.