From September 22 to October 31, Bogotá will host the 15th edition of Festival de Cine Francés and showcase of the best of French moviemaking. This year’s version brings to the city an impressive line-up of films, that cover plenty of terrain, such as the rural alienation of two professionals in Medecin de champagne to a former-slave-turned circus star in 19th century France, Chocolat. The festival will also highlight women in film under the category “Luz sobre el cine femenino.”
But let’s start with Mon Roi, the 2015 release from director and actress Maïwenn Le Besco. With an acting cast that includes Emmanuelle Bercot and Vincent Cassel, Mon Roi tells the story of two Parisians, a criminal lawyer Tony who is recovering from a serious ski accident and a boisterous restaurateur, Georgio. When the two meet clubbing one night in the City of Light, an over-charming Georgio embarks on an emotional rollercoaster. The 40-something complacency is soon shattered by an amour accompli…or so it seems.
This year’s release of Chocolat is also a gem of a film that recounts the true story of France’s first famous black performer set during the Belle-époque. The fourth feature by director Roschdy Zem (Days of Glory, Omar Killed Me) casts Omar Sy as leading clown Rafael Padilla, aka Chocolat, who as a former slave made his way to France in the late 19th century and became a star of Paris’ Nouveau Cirque. Chocolat’s partner-in-clown, Footit is played by James Thierree.
Former doctor-turned-director Thomas Lilti delivers a dose of Medecin de champagne (“Irreplaceable” in English). Released this year, the story follows a country doctor, Jean-Pierre Werner (played by Francois Cluzet) whose life gets rocked by the arrival of a middle-age woman from the city, Nathalie Delezia (Marianne Denicourt). Nathalie challenges Jean-Pierre on all things medical, but eventually they bond, and a romance casts light on the predicament of two professionals trying to avoid career redundancy in 21st century France.
With contemporary and classic features, this edition will screen in 19 cities across Colombia and one of the highlights is the women’s category with works by 11 female directors, including Emmanuelle Bercot, Claire Simon, Alix Delaporte and Valéria Bruni-Tedeschi. The must-see films include Bercot’s Elle s’en va (2013) starring Catherine Deneuve. On My Way is a charming road-movie of a bankrupt bistro owner in Brittany called Betty who sets out on a trip across France. The result? Destination: Deneuve. Bercot also directed Mon Roi.
Lucie Borleteau’s 2015 first feature Fidélio, l’odyssée d’Alice (Fidelio, Alice’s Journey) tells the story of a 30-year-old woman engineer on a cargo ship. Alice (Ariane Labed) is tough and holds her own with an all-male crew. But romance gets in the way of the rolling waves, when in Marseille, the captain of her latest posting turns out to be an old flame.
From ocean-jaded romance to a radioactive love in Rébecca Zlotowski’s Grand Central (2013), there’s plenty of emotion going around in this year’s festival, even a few dysfunctional love triangles thrown in to add to a menagerie of exceptional cinematic storytelling. So vive la film!
For information on venues, prices and screening times visit: www.cinefrancesencolombia.com