French film festival in Dubai

francOfilm festival promises flicks from eight countries - all in French

Benita Adesuyan talks to the francOfilm Festival organisers about the event’s fourth anniversary here in Dubai.

Parlez-vous Français? It might be handy if you can speak French if you’re off to the movies later this month. Vox Cinema in Mall of the Emirates is hosting francOfilm, a festival featuring nine films from eight countries, which all have one thing in common – they’re in French.

Running from Wednesday March 26 to Saturday March 29, this is the fourth French language film festival in Dubai, a city home to more than 150,000 French speakers. But the festival is not just for Francophiles, it’s a cultural event for all lovers of film, and every flick will be subtitled in English, with two also in Arabic. Tickets for each film will be at a special price of Dhs25, making the movies accessible to everyone.

Mohamed Bendjebbour is the regional audio-visual attaché from the Khaleej French Film & TV Office and has been involved in the festival for the past two years. He explains that the festival is not just about promoting French language and culture but providing an exchange. ‘If you want to promote culture it has to be economically viable, so you have a round trip relationship – not just us trying to promote French movies,’ he says. ‘This is a great way for people to understand each other and we have to support emerging local cinema.’

One way the francOfilm Festival is supporting local industry is by showing Emirati short films at the beginning of every screening, a move that highlights the festival’s inclusive ethos. ‘You go to the cinema here and it’s only Hollywood or Bollywood,’ says Bendjebbour. ‘There are films that deserve to be shown to the public. They don’t get so many exposure platforms so we offer some film makers a chance to show their short film to create awareness of local cinema’.

The festival will include a matinee schools screening of 2013’s Sur le Chemin de l’école (On the Way to School), a documentary that follows the story of four children and the obstacles they have to overcome to get to school.

What’s more, film fans will be treated to a premiere. ‘We will be closing the festival with Rock The Casbah, a French-Moroccan production which has a lot of acclaim, and the movie will be released commercially in the UAE a few days after the screening,’ adds Bendjebbour. ‘The director, Laila Marrakchi is also coming to present the film – this is going to be a huge highlight for us.’

Bendjebbour hopes the festival will transcend language barriers: ‘Dubai has people from all over the world here, but Francophone is not only a language but a wa1y of thinking – diversity, supporting all kinds of art and we hope that people who are not French speaking will come as well.’
FrancOfilm Festival, Dhs25 for adults, Dhs10 for children. March 26-29. Vox Cinemas Mall of the Emirates. www.voxcinemas.com.

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