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The best from AFFFF22
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Paris, 1953. The body of a beautiful young woman is discovered at Place Ventimille, dressed in an elegant evening gown. There is nothing to identify her, and no witnesses. Pensive and world-weary Inspector Jules Maigret endeavours to piece together her story, and in doing so uncovers details about her past and character. In his enquiries, he encounters Betty (Jade Labeste), a woman who bears an uncanny resemblance to the victim, but who also reminds him of one even closer to his own life…
In this psychological thriller in the Hitchcockian tradition, Virginie Efira deftly embodies the troubled personality of Madeleine Collins, a woman living a double life, whose identity cracks under the weight of her own lies. The film tells the parallel stories of a woman who seems to be the perfect wife and a loving mother living between France and Switzerland. Sophisticated and elegant with a touch of suspense, Madeleine Collins sits somewhere between Vertigo and Kramer vs. Kramer, the story of a woman at the centre of two worlds that are starting to collide.
A magnificent ode to nature, a film that suspends time, set to the sublime music of Warren Ellis and Nick Cave. The Velvet Queen explores the awe-inspiring landscapes of Tibet and the unpredictable journeys of its inhabitants. Wolves, bears, yaks, birds and the mythic snow leopard come to life on the big screen. The Velvet Queen provides audiences with the atmospheric experience of a hunt without weapons, as we follow particularly Munier’s obsession to capture the holy grail of the animal kingdom. The documentary feels simultaneously like a test of human patience and a celebration of slowness.
Following her César Award-winning performance in Antoinette in the Cévennes, the marvellous Laure Calamy demonstrates the phenomenal range of her talents in writer/director Éric Gavel’s gripping and award-winning new drama Full Time, as a single woman pushed to her limits when the delicate balance between her home and work life is upended. Mother of two Julie (Calamy) is making ends meet, getting by as the head chambermaid of a five-star hotel in Paris, with only sporadic alimony payments from her ex-husband. Each meticulously-planned day starts before sunrise, preparing the kids for school and undertaking a long commute to work, where she unflappably completes her duties in time to return to them.
Astonishingly, in all their years on screen, cinema icons Juliette Binoche and Vincent Lindon have never acted together. This anomaly is finally corrected with Fire, the explosive new romantic drama from celebrated auteur Claire Denis, a blazing story about a passionate, complicated woman caught between two very different men. Public radio presenter Sara (Binoche) and Jean (Lindon) are in love, and have been living together for a decade. When they first met, Sara was in a relationship with François (Grégoire Colin) while Jean, a pro rugby star, was married with a son. Their relationship has been relatively secure, even surviving a stint in prison by Jean for shady business dealings.
The follow-up movie to Petit’s box-office hit Invisibles, The Kitchen Brigade, explores the world of French gastronomy while also tackling issues of social justice and inclusion through the story of Cathy. Cathy (Audrey Lamy, already starring in Invisibles) is an inflexible 40-year-old sous-chef, finally fulfilling her lifelong dream of opening her own high-end restaurant. Things do not go to plan. Facing serious financial difficulties, she reluctantly accepts a job in the cafeteria of a shelter for young migrants. Though she hates the new job at first, Cathy’s remarkable skill and passion for cuisine start to change the kids’ lives. And it turns out they also have a lot to teach her.
Juliette Binoche stars in this immersive drama based on French journalist Florence Aubenas’ bestselling non-fiction book, Le Quai de Ouistreham (The Night Cleaner). Marianne (Binoche), a writer posing as a cash-strapped divorcée who needs work, is hired as a cabin cleaner on a ferry boat at the port of Ouistreham which serves the city of Caen. Marianne’s disquiet grows as she forms a tight bond with her co-workers, all the while secretly taking notes on them. She then faces the awful situation of having to confess to her new friends that she has been using their life stories as raw material for her book.
A hilarious comedy à la française! From South America to Sweden, Employee of the Month will make you cry with laughter and take the audience on an overdue journey around the world. Jérôme Commandeur produces a satire full of twists and turns, poking fun at France and its public service, but kindly and with tenderness. An irresistible force meets an immovable object when a zealous ministerial inspector (Pascale Arbillot), determined to do everything in her power to make cuts in civil service spending, comes up against Vincent Peltier (Jérôme Commandeur), a peaceful civil servant at the Water and Forestry Department in Limoges. As far as he’s concerned, his job is “guaranteed for life”! The war of nerves has only just begun when she transfers him to some of the most inhospitable places on Earth, including the North Pole!
With an all-star ensemble cast led by Gérard Depardieu and Liliane Rovère, The Villa joins the ranks of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Calendar Girls and The Intouchables, with its touching and oft-hilarious depiction of friendships formed against all odds. An unlikely story of friendship between Milann (Kev Adams), a young man on parole, who is forced to work in a retirement home rather than going to jail, and a larger-than-life group of retired people who are reluctant to accept this new recruit.
A man (Benoît Magimel) condemned too young by a serious illness. The suffering of a mother (Catherine Deneuve) facing the unbearable. The dedication of a doctor (Dr. Gabriel Sara) and a nurse (Cécile de France, also starring in this year’s Lost Illusions) to accompany them on the impossible path to acceptance. Peaceful is a touching story of the process of engaging in a ‘dance’ with the disease, trying to tame it, and coming to understand what it means to be dying while still living. A deeply moving film that examines the vulnerability of humanity and will leave audiences thinking ‘what would I do in that situation?’
A juicy murder comedy! Was it Colonel Mustard in the kitchen with the candlestick? Or was it Mrs Peacock in the conservatory with the lead pipe? Murder Story follows Jeanne (Alice Pol), a brilliant architect on a new job, renovating a beautiful mansion owned by an eccentric family who head a board game empire. Jeanne turns from architect to investigator when the landlord and patriarch is found dead and suddenly everybody is a suspect.
The fabulous Fanny Ardant, Melvil Poupaud and Cécile de France beguile in The Young Lovers, Carine Tardieu’s eagerly anticipated follow up to Just to Be Sure, a modern and emotionally-nuanced romantic dramedy of a woman who embarks on a relationship with a much younger man, and the implications her choices have on those around her. Elegant, retired architect Shauna (Ardant) crosses paths with Pierre (Melvil Poupaud), a married oncologist in his 40s, who first made an impression on her in a brief meeting over a decade earlier. Both are drawn to each other and begin a passionate affair. While Pierre’s family life is soon turned upside down – his wife (de France) incredulous at the age difference – Shauna struggles with feelings she thought well-belonged to the past, and the promise of what may remain…
“I made a movie about being hard of hearing because I lost some hearing several years ago. I decided to make a comedy on this subject.” – Pascal Elbé. This romantic comedy is centered around Antoine (Pascal Elbé) a history professor in his early 50s, who discovers he is losing his hearing. Unable to own up to his disability and his attempts to disguise it only resulting in those around him finding his behaviour increasingly odd, he resigns himself to living in his bubble. An encounter with Claire, a widow whose daughter is mute, gives him the strength to open up to the world again.
Based on incredible true events, Jérôme Salle’s gripping new espionage thriller depicts the remarkable story of a French public servant who unwittingly found himself in conflict with one of the modern era’s most powerful and dangerous forces: Russia’s FSB/ 2019 AF FFF guest (and audience favourite) Gilles Lellouche stars as Mathieu, a gregarious and dedicated diplomat who accepts a posting to Irkutsk as the head of Siberia’s Alliance Française. He hopes the change will be good for his family and struggling marriage, but before long Mathieu’s staging of cultural events and support of artistic expression sees him fall afoul of local authorities. Accused of a terrible crime, he soon realises someone has fabricated a case with Russia’s Federal Security Service; he has been framed.