Time Out takes a look at some of the French films screening as part of this year’s FrancOfilm Festival.
FrancOfilm, a three-day celebration of French film and filmmaking, which takes place Wednesday March 18 to Saturday 21, is becoming a mainstay on the calendars of film fans of all tongues, and this year’s offering, the fifth instalment of the annual event, will show seven films from the French diaspora, Belgium, Canada, Morocco, Tunisia, and Haiti.
Last year, the festival attracted more than 1,400 people and organisers are hoping that this year’s event will surpass that. The weekend opens and closes with a screening of Samba, which was a hit at last year’s Dubai International Film Festival, winning the People’s Choice Award.
All screenings are subtitled in English and some also in Arabic, and represent a diverse ensemble of filmmaking styles, genres, actors and directors that don’t get as much attention as their Hollywood counterparts. Here, we preview the feature films on show.
Deux jours, Une Nuit
(15+) France, 2014. Marion Cotillard Directed by Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne
Deux Jours, Une Nuit features a career-high performance from Oscar-winner Marion Cotillard and has a starting-gun premise: a young mother, Sandra (Marion Cotillard), recently off work with depression, is made redundant from a small factory. In her absence, 14 of her 16 colleagues have voted to take their bonuses (around 1,000 euros each) rather than let her keep her job. But willed into action by a supportive husband, Manu (Fabrizio Rongione), she persuades her boss to give her one last chance and to host a second vote two days later. Will she be able to save her job by knocking on doors over the weekend to persuade her colleagues to support her?
March 19, 7pm
Yasmina et les 60 noms de l’amour
Yasmina and the 60 Names of Love is a documentary that draws on the deeply personal story of an elderly woman. Yasmina speaks of suffering and a harsh and cruel existence from the twilight of her life.
March 19, 9pm.
Il était une forêt
From the makers of The March of the Penguins, this is a stunning natural history documentary that will enthral viewers of all ages. Luc Jacquet takes us on an extraordinary journey deep into the tropical forest, to the heart of life itself, from the first shoot to the blossoming of giant trees, from the canopy to the development of hidden links between plants and animals.
March 20, 3pm.
On the third anniversary of the earthquake that killed 230,000 people in Haiti and left 1.5 million homeless, the country is still in dire straits: reconstruction has barely begun, the economy is stagnant and Port-au-Prince is a slum of makeshift camps, crime and disease. It is at this starting point that Haitian filmmaker, Raoul Peck, takes audiences on a two-year journey to give us an insight into how the international aid assistance was spent in Haiti and the nation’s efforts to rebuild.
March 20, 6pm
(15+) Morocco, 2014. Didier Michon, Slimane Dazi Directed by Hicham Ayouch
When 13-year-old Benjamin’s (Didier Michon) mother goes to prison he is sent to live with Karim (Slimane Dazi), the father he never knew. Benjamin is sullen and destructive, and rejects attempts at kindness. Karim’s father despises the boy, and seems to despise Karim as well, leaving Benjamin to wander the streets. He connects only with a free-spirited poet living in an abandoned trailer in the woods.
March 20, 9pm.
La Petite Reine
Based on a real story, this is a tale of passion cycling and the fall from grace. Julie Arseneau (Laurence Leboeuf) is a young cycling star two races away from winning the World Cup when she is denounced for wrongdoing. Alone and with no knowledge of the world outside the realm of racing, Julie must find a way out.
March 21, 3pm
(12+) France, 2014. Omar Sy, Tahar Rahim, Charlotte Gainsbourg. Directed by Éric Toledano and Olivier Nakache
Set in Paris, Samba centres on the issues of immigration in France and has a touching love story at its heart. Directed by the pair behind The Intouchables, this film is a romantic comedy in which Samba (Omar Sy), an immigrant from Senegal, and Alice (Charlotte Gainsbourg), an overworked executive, meet in a twist of fate that changes their lives and perceptions of each other’s worlds.
March 21, 6pm
Dhs25 for all screenings. March 18-21, all films screened at Vox Cinemas, Mall of the Emirates, Al Barsha, www.voxcinemas.com (04 335 8712).