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Double celebration for Francophiles

/ 12:06 AM June 05, 2017
Kristen Stewart in “Personal Shopper”

Kristen Stewart in “Personal Shopper”

The 22nd French Film Festival marks a double celebration this year, says Laurent Legodec, chargé d’affaires of the French embassy in Manila.

This year, France and the Philippines are observing the 70th anniversary of the signing of the treaty of friendship between the two nations. Significantly, the year 2017 also commemorates the 70th anniversary of the Cannes Film Festival, widely acknowledged as the world’s glitziest cinema event.


To herald these “important milestones,” the annual French film fest in Manila will showcase acclaimed movies that premiered in Cannes, Legodec relates.

The centerpiece of the fest, which will be held at Greenbelt 3 and BHS Central Square Cinemas from June 9 to 17, is Olivier Assayas’ “Personal Shopper,” which topbills Hollywood star Kristen Stewart.


Assayas won best director (tying with Cristian Mungiu, who won for “Graduation”) for “Personal Shopper” in Cannes last year.

Other Cannes films in the lineup are Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi’s “A Castle in Italy” (Main Competition 2013), Laurent Larivière’s “I Am a Soldier” (Un Certain Regard 2015) and Tony Gatlif’s “Géronimo” (Main Competition 2014).

In time for the Philippine Independence Day on June 12, the French fest will likewise screen Filipino movies that made waves in Cannes: Brillante Ma Mendoza’s “Ma’ Rosa” (Main Competition 2016), Erik Matti’s “On the Job” (Directors’ Fortnight 2013) and Raymond Red’s “Anino” (Palme d’Or Best Short winner in 2000).

Arvin Belarmino and Noel Escondo’s short film “Nakaw,” which features Kristoffer King in the lead, will also be shown in the French fest. “Nakaw” was one of four Filipino works included in this year’s Short Film Corner program.

Legodec tells the Inquirer that the embassy has made it a point to select a “variety” of films for this year’s fest.

Apart from festival favorites, popular fare like a crime thriller (Eric Barbier’s “The Last Diamond”), a children’s movie (Christophe Honoré’s “Sophie’s Misfortunes”) and a controversial action flick (James Watkins’ “Bastille Day,” which stars Idris Elba as a rogue CIA agent) will also be highlighted.

As always, however, festival frontrunners comprise a majority of this year’s entries: Bertrand Bonello’s “Nocturama” (Mar del Plata), Rachid Djaïdani’s “Tour de France” (Hamburg), Joachim Lafosse’s “The White Knights” (Toronto), Arnaud and Jean-Marie Larrieu’s “21 Nights with Pattie” (San Sebastian), Pierre Jolivet’s “The Night Watchman” (Shanghai) and Philippe Garrel’s “In the Shadow of Women” (Athens).


As an innovation, outdoor screenings of two French films and a Filipino movie will be held at the Circuit in Makati on June 17 and 18. Screenings in Cebu and Davao are in the works, too. (Tickets for the mall screenings are priced at P100, but the outdoor event is for free.)

From left: Richard Madden, Charlotte Le Bon and Idris Elba in “Bastille Day”

From left: Richard Madden, Charlotte Le Bon and Idris Elba in “Bastille Day”

Legodec, who has been in the country for the past three years, points out that French people share a slew of similarities with Filipinos. “We value family. We love food. We adore cinema.”

Like Filipinos, the French see in cinema a valuable tool to tell stories that bridge differences. “After watching ‘Ma’ Rosa’ in theaters in Paris, my French friends insist that they’ve made several new discoveries about Filipino culture and society. Movies help us get to know our neighbors. We only get a small glimpse of the situation when we read or watch the news.”

Movies, he asserts, present a fuller picture of the human condition—in all its delicious complexity and delectable simplicity.

“Cinema reflects life and the French love life,” he remarks. C’est la vie!

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