C’est La Vie! (Opening Night)
Over a career spanning more than 30 years, Max Angély has enjoyed a celebrated career as a caterer and event organiser. Today, it’s all hands on deck for Pierre and Héléna’s nuptials in a breathtaking 17th century French chateau. As per usual, Max has everything precisely organised but, as the celebrations get underway, Murphy’s Law takes over, and his perfectly planned occasion risks disintegrating into a chaotic farce. Can Max and his team pull together to make Pierre and Héléna’s special day memorable for all the right reasons?
Thirteen-year-old Ava is on a summer holiday in the Medoc region when she learns a degenerative condition that is turning her blind has accelerated. Rather than wallow in her imminent disability, Ava chooses to embrace her remaining senses and explore her burgeoning sensuality, as encouraged by her mother. An encounter with a young troublemaker Juan, sends Ava on a series of adventures she would never have dared to do before her prognosis.
With the death of his father looming, Jean returns from his Australian winery to his childhood ‘domaine’ in Burgundy after a 10-year absence. He takes over the family’s vineyard along with his siblings Juliette and Jérémie. Over the course of a year, Jean, Juliette and Jérémie put aside their lingering resentments about the past as they seek to maintain their father’s legacy and defy expectations – financial, emotional and professional – of those around them.
☆☆☆☆☆ The Upcoming
If you think the countryside is calm and peaceful, then you might want to think again. France’s most unconventional farm plays home to a number of mixed-up animal folk. We are introduced to a fox that thinks he is a chicken, a rabbit that acts like a stork and a duck that wants to replace Father Christmas. Not surprisingly, their shenanigans are as hilarious as their identity confusion.
Swann Arlaud, one of French cinema’s most exciting up and-coming talents, plays a lonesome 30-something dairy farmer, Pierre, whose life revolves around his veterinarian sister, his parents and his property. A deadly virus affecting cows hits France and Pierre finds one of his much-loved herds infected. Distraught at the prospect of losing even one cow, he attempts to hide the outbreak from authorities and vows to fight to the bitter end to save them, even if it means resorting to drastic and irreversible measures.
☆☆☆☆☆ Borrowing Tape
☆☆☆☆☆ The Movie Waffler
BPM (Beats Per Minute) throws us into the milieu of sexual and political activism during François Mitterrand’s Government of the early 90’s. As seen through the prism of the ACT UP movement in Paris, this film passionately illuminates the fight for social acceptance by people living with HIV in the face of drug manufacturers reluctant to expedite treatment breakthroughs. Nathan joins the ACT UP collective and is immediately drawn to the radical and somewhat militant Sean, a 20-something man living with HIV. As their relationship develops, and Sean’s condition deteriorates, BPM evolves skilfully from documentary-style to intimate drama, in a way that has captured the hearts of audiences across France.
☆☆☆☆☆ Slant Magazine
Coby – as was Jacob’s transitioning name – was 23 and partnered with Sara when he decided to take testosterone pills in his first step to becoming male. Surgery came next, as did cutting his hair short to assist his family in their acceptance. With a world of YouTube viewers watching Coby emerge from his gender chrysalis, those closest to him arguably underwent the more radical change – a change of perspective – which is something that sits at the heart of this documentary and informs it even more than the physical awakening. With Coby now reborn as Jacob, the final step in the transition is a hysterectomy; a crucial choice given Jacob’s partner, Sara, does not want to bear a child. Jacob’s father expresses the conundrum they face most eloquently when he says, “Changing has consequences. Not changing also has consequences.”
☆☆☆☆☆ Queer Guru
This heart-stopping drama charts a family’s struggles with the fallout of divorce, and the resulting arrangements for (and impact on) the two children. Miriam and Antoine have recently separated. While she’s willing to permit their 17-year-old daughter Joséphine to decide living arrangements for herself, Miriam is desperate to keep her youngest, 12-year-old Julien, away from his father. But the magistrate rules in favour of joint custody, and suddenly the boy is thrown directly into the middle of an escalating parental conflict, where it seems inevitable that sides must be chosen.
Isabelle a ‘divorcée’ with a child who is searching for love but finding only callous suitors whose actions lend her experiences an acid-laced comedic edge.
☆☆☆☆☆ Slant Magazine
Albert Maillard is a rank-and-file French infantryman battling to survive trench warfare as WWI comes to its conclusion. In a horrific final sortie, Maillard is almost buried alive by debris and his comrade Édouard Péricourt is horribly disfigured after being hit by mortar fire. Péricourt becomes addicted to morphine during his convalescence and, living behind elaborate masks to hide his disfigurement, concocts a plan with Maillard to sell phony monuments to French towns honouring their dead; an undertaking that will prove as dangerous as it is stunning.
Adapted from the novel by Ernest Pérochon, The Guardians covers many years on the Paridier farm, beginning in 1915 when the men must leave for war. The matriarch of the household Hortense rallies her daugher Solange and new farmhand, orphan Francine, to shoulder the back-breaking farm duties. In this visually sumptuous pastoral setting, the women learn self-sufficiency, despite the hardships, and even fall in love. It all culminates in a final scene that acts as a fitting homage to the closing moments of Stanley Kubrick’s classic, Paths of Glory.
It is summer in La Ciotat in the South of France. Antoine is taking part in a creative writing workshop run by novelist Olivia. Smart and loaded with teen angst, Antoine’s fascist sympathies lurk just beneath the surface and create friction within the group. However, Olivia is both alarmed and captivated by Antoine’s hostility and, as the workshop and its pupils gradually slip out of her control, her interest goes beyond mere intrigue into a fascination that is both intellectual and, at times, seductive.
☆☆☆☆☆ The Upcoming
Samuel enjoys an A-list, hedonistic lifestyle on the sun-drenched beaches of the Côte d’Azur. Life is good, until the day former lover Kristin arrives out of nowhere and deposits the fruits of their tryst – an infant daughter, Gloria – in his care. Incapable of looking after a baby, Samuel rushes to the UK in an attempt to return the child to her mother, without any luck. He decides to stay in London and, after finding work as a television stuntman, their relationship slowly begins to bloom. When Kristin eventually reappears, Gloria has grown into a bright and effervescent eight year old… and the inseparable father-daughter team finds their connections tested.
50 Is The New 30 (Closing Night)
Even though Marie-Francine’s husband is a bore, the last thing she needs is to be kicked to the curb for a younger woman in the same week as being downsized out of her job as a chemical researcher. But that is exactly what happens. And her ‘solution’ to the problem is to move in with her overbearing parents and then act on their encouragement to open an e-cigarette boutique. A Portuguese fado score foreshadows the arrival of chef Miguel. Marie-Francine discovers he harbours some embarrassing secrets of his own but, still, Miguel might be the perfect someone to help Marie-Francine lift her sagging spirit.