French Films at TIFF 2013 [fr]
2013 is a very good year for French cinema! Filled with Oscars baits, the line-up for the 38th edition of the Toronto International Film Festival, which will take place from September 5 to 15, includes 34 French productions and co-productions.
“Bright Days Ahead” by Marion Vernoux
César-winning French cinema icon Fanny Ardant stars in this sophisticated and sexy drama about a married woman in her sixties tumbling into an affair with a much younger man.
"Blood Ties" by Guillaume Canet
Clive Owen and Billy Crudup lead a powerhouse cast — including Mila Kunis, Marion Cotillard and Matthias Schoenaerts (Rust and Bone) — as a pair of brothers on opposite sides of the law in Guillaume Canet’s English-language remake of the gritty, 1970s-set crime drama Les liens du sang.
"Love Punch" by Joël Hopkins
Pierce Brosnan and Emma Thompson star in this romantic comedy/heist film as a divorced duo who sets aside their differences to undertake a high-stakes jewel robbery on the Côte d’Azur.
“A Promise” by Patrice Leconte
Set in pre-First World War Germany, Patrice Leconte’s venture into English-language filmmaking chronicles the simmering love triangle between an ailing factory owner (Alan Rickman), his young bride (Rebecca Hall) and his protégé (Richard Madden).
“Love is a Perfect Crime” by Arnaud Larrieu and Jean-Marie Larrieu
Mathieu Amalric plays a befuddled, womanizing professor whose complicated life takes a turn for the worse following the disappearance of a student, in Jean-Marie and Arnaud Larrieu’s wickedly fun comic thriller.
"Violette" by Martin Provost
Emmanuelle Devos (Kings & Queen) stars in this gorgeously rendered biopic of the acclaimed French novelist Violette Leduc, whose intense and fraught relationship with Simone de Beauvoir (Sandrine Kimberlain) fuelled her fearless, nakedly confessional writing. .
“Blue is the warmest color” by Abdellatif Kechiche
Abdellatif Kechiche’s bold, passionate and controversial love story about the tempestuous relationship between a sensitive high-schooler (Adèle Exarchopoulos) and an assertive art student (Léa Seydoux) won the Palme d’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.
"Attila Marcel" by Sylvain Chomet
Director Sylvain Chomet (The Triplets of Belleville, The Illusionist) invokes memories of Buster Keaton and Jacques Tati in his first live-action film, about a mute, sweet-natured man-child whose reawakened childhood memories unleash marvellous musical fantasies.
"Quai d’Orsay" by Bertrand Tavernier
Master filmmaker Bertrand Tavernier (The Princess of Montpensier, Life and Nothing But) directs this gleeful political satire about a dashing, globetrotting and charming French foreign minister.
The young Arthur Vlaminck, freshly graduated from the Ecole Nationale d’Administration is hired to write his speeches. He will discover that it is not an easy job among the chief of staff, his ambitious colleagues, the stress, and the flaming personality of the minister.
"Going away" by Nicole Garcia
Two unlikely friends — a supply teacher and a lonely young boy suspended between two estranged parents — embark on a weekend motorcycle voyage full of surprises and unforeseen consequences in this surprisingly tough, unsentimental drama from acclaimed French actress and director Nicole Garcia.
"The Past" by Asghar Farhadi
Travelling to Paris from Tehran to finalize his divorce, an Iranian man (Ali Mosaffa) finds himself suddenly and tragically drawn back into the lives of his ex (Bérénice Bejo, The Artist) and her daughter, in the exquisitely written and magnificently acted new film from Academy Award-winning director Asghar Farhadi (A Separation). Starring Tahar Rahim (A prophet) and Bérénice Bejo (The Artist).
"Young and Beautiful" by François Ozon
Festival favourite François Ozon (In the House, 8 Women, Under the Sand) directs this coming-of-age chronicle of a young French girl that takes place over four seasons and four songs.
“The Finishers” by Niels Tavernier
This sophomore drama from veteran documentarian Nils Tavernier (Aurore) is the powerful story of a father who teams with his wheelchair-bound son to conquer the grueling gauntlet of an Ironman Triathlon.
“Abuse of Weakness” by Catherine Breillat
An extraordinary collaboration between two legends of French cinema, Catherine Breillat’s brutally candid autobiographical drama stars Isabelle Huppert as a stroke-afflicted filmmaker manipulated by a notorious con man.
“Bastards” by Claire Denis
One of the most visionary filmmakers in contemporary cinema, Claire Denis (Beau travail, Trouble Every Day, White Material) returns with this dazzling, labyrinthine story of sex, murder, and revenge.
“Friends from France” by Anne Weil and Philippe Kotlarski
Set in Odessa in 1979, this uniquely emotional political thriller recreates meticulously the deep-freeze of the Soviet Union at the crest of the Cold War while following a pair of French cousins in their clandestine effort to reach out to the so-called refuseniks — Jews repressed by the Brezhnev regime.
“Under the Starry Sky” by Dyana Gaye
A transcontinental drama that delves into the shadowy world of undocumented travel, the debut feature from Senegalese filmmaker Dyana Gaye charts the interconnected destinies of three far-flung sojourners.
“Eastern Boys” by Robin Campillo
Formally fascinating and sexually frank, the audacious latest from director Robin Campillo takes us to the edge of discomfort as it presents a middle-aged Frenchman’s entanglement with a group of young Eastern European hustlers — and gives way to a love story with a conscience.
“Stranger by the Lac” by Alain Guiraudie
Winner of the best director prize in the Un Certain Regarde section at Cannes, Alain Guiraudie’s disciplined, eerie "naturalist thriller" follows the comings and goings at a lakeside gay cruising beach as a man falls for a lethally dangerous Adonis.
“Salvation Army” by Abdellah Taïa
The rapturous debut feature from Moroccan writer Abdellah Taïa offers a charged, semi-autobiographical tale about a young graduate who must navigate the sexual, racial, and political intrigue surrounding his arrival in Geneva.
“The Summer of Flying Fish” by Marcela Said
In this subtle and atmospheric allegory by first-time feature director Marcela Said, a teenaged girl holidaying at a lake house in southern Chile experiences a bittersweet coming of age as she faces disillusionment in love and confronts the incoherency and intolerance of her affluent family’s political views.
“A Thousand Suns” by Mati Diop
Though an unlikely pairing on the surface, Mati Diop’s award-winning A Thousand Suns (Mille Soleils) and Akram Zaatari’s Venice Biennale commission Letter to a Refusing Pilot are both dreamy, moving, and exceedingly personal quests through time, space and memory.
"Un conte de Michel de Montaigne" by Jean-Marie Straub
Master filmmaker Jean-Marie Straub continues his exploration of classic texts with this "collaboration" with the great 16th-century writer of the Essais.
“A Spell to ward off the Darkness” by Ben Rivers & Ben Russell
The first feature-film collaboration between celebrated artist-filmmakers Ben Rivers (Two Years at Sea) and Ben Russell (Let Each One Go Where He May) follows a nameless protagonist (played by musician Robert AA Lowe) as he explores three very different existential options: as a member of a commune on a small Estonian island; living alone in the breathtaking wilds of northern Finland; and fronting a neo-pagan black metal band in Norway.
“The missing picture” by Rithy Panh
Director Rithy Panh (S21: The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine) won the Un Certain Regard prize at this year’s Cannes Film Festival for this startlingly original work, which uses handmade clay figurines and detailed dioramas to recount the ravages that Pol Pot’s regime visited upon the people of Cambodia following the communist victory in 1975.
"Natpwe, le festin des esprits" by Tiane Doan na Champassak et Jean Dubrel
An immersive, sooty black-and-white documentary about an annual Burmese trance ritual, with echoes of Jean Rouch and David Lynch.
"Pays barbare" by Yervant Gianikian et Angel Ricci Lucchi
Milan-based duo Yervant Gianikian and Angela Ricci Lucchi create an astonishing work of militant poetry with this found-footage chronicle of Mussolini’s brutal invasion of Ethiopia.
“Three interpretations” exercices by Cristi Puiu
Acclaimed Romanian director Cristi Puiu (The Death of Mr. Lazarescu, Aurora) transforms what began as an intensive three-week acting workshop into a deeply intelligent, wryly amusing, and compulsively watchable cinematic treatise worthy of Rohmer’s Moral Tales.
"Amazonia" de Thierry Ragobert
Born and raised in captivity, a capuchin monkey suddenly finds himself fighting for survival in the wilds of the Amazon jungle in this remarkable live-action adventure, shot on location in breathtaking 3D.
“Ain’t Misbehavin’” by Marcel Ophüls
Master documentarian Marcel Ophüls (The Sorrow and the Pity) turns his gaze back on his own extraordinary life with this memoir, both rigorous and playful, that touches on love, arduous investigations into fraught moments in recent history, and Ophüls’ famous father, director of such masterpieces as The Earrings of Madame de…
“Faith Connections” by Pan Nalin
A spectacular exploration of varied paths of devotion that converge at one of the world’s most extraordinary religious events — the Kumbh Mela — Pan Nalin’s thoughtful documentary is a genuinely spiritual journey.
“The Last of the Unjust” by Claude Lanzmann
In this riveting exploration of contested history, the inexhaustible Holocaust documentarian Claude Lanzmann (Shoah) revisits a 1975 interview with Benjamin Murmelstein, the Viennese rabbi who worked with Adolf Eichmann to arrange for the emigration of 120,000 Jews, an ethically thorny collaboration which saved many lives — and landed Murmelstein in prison.
“The Lovely Month of May” by Chris Marker and Pierre Lhomme
Chris Marker’s epic "direct cinema" portrait of Paris in May 1962 returns in this meticulous new restoration by the film’s cinematographer and co-director Pierre Lhomme.
"Hiroshima mon amour" by Alain Resnais
A French actress (Emmanuelle Riva) recalls her traumatic wartime past while having an affair with a Japanese architect in Alain Resnais’ masterful meditation on time, memory and forgetfulness.