A successful tribute to French cinema is back for another run

French cinema returns to the spotlight this month, as the third annual French Film Festival is scheduled to open its doors on March 29. Besides an exciting list of recently released featured film productions, this year’s film festival includes a tribute to celebrated French actress, Isabelle Huppert. The actress, who is expected to come to Athens for the event, will be joined by a number of French cinema luminaries, including fellow actress Emmanuelle Beart, director Francois Ozon, as well as the director of the Centre National de la Cinematographie, David Kessler, in this celebration of French films. Also on the guest list are directors Catherine Corsini, Liria Begeja, Jean-Pierre Ameris, Tony Gatlif and Christian Carion, who will be presenting their films to the public in Athens. As the festival is gradually forging its character, this year’s events once again showcase the organizers’ commitment. The French Film Festival is organized by the French Embassy and the French Institute in Athens, in collaboration with the Greek Film Center, Unifrance Films (the French association promoting French cinema abroad), as well as local film distributors Rosebud, Prooptiki and Filmtrade. Running to April 11, a total of 30 French movies will be screened, at both the Apollon Renault cinema and the French Institute. Screenings at the Apollon Renault include 13 previously unreleased French films in Greece (all produced in 2001), while the French Institute will host the Isabelle Huppert tribute. The festival’s official opening ceremonies are scheduled to kick off on March 29, with the screening of Francois Ozon’s «8 Femmes,» with the attendance of the director and two of the film’s leading ladies, Huppert and Beart (entrance to this event is by invitation only). The following evening, Huppert will be the guest of honor at the screening of Claude Goretta’s «La Dentelliere» (1977), marking the opening of the tribute dedicated to her career. Francois Ozon’s «8 Femmes» features an impressive all-female cast, which includes Isabelle Huppert, Catherine Deneuve, Emmanuelle Beart, Fanny Ardant, Virginie Ledoyen and Danielle Darrieux. A mixture of comedy and suspense a la Agatha Christie, the story unfolds in the 1950s, as a man’s murder casts suspicion on the eight women close to him. Jean-Pierre Ameris’s «C’est la Vie,» starring Jacques Dutronc and Sandrine Bonnaire, is a powerful drama focusing on human warmth, as a man suffering from an incurable disease retreats to a renowned treatment center and is attended by a charming woman. In Josee Dayan’s «Cet-Amour-la,» the legendary Jeanne Moreau returns to the screen to portray author Marguerite Duras, who falls in love with Yann, a suicidal, passionate student. Another love story develops in Liria Begeja’s «Change-moi ma Vie,» in which Fanny Ardant and Roschdy Zem comprise a desperate couple, she, a failing middled-aged woman, he a transvestite. An Algerian immigrant’s path is traced in Yamina Benguigui’s «Inch’Allah Dimanche,» starring Fejria Deliba and Rabia Mokedem, in which Zouina, a mother of three, starts a new life in France. In Eric Rohmer’s «L’Anglaise et le Duc,» starring Lucy Russell and Jean-Claude Dreyfus, history takes a leading role, as an English royalist residing in revolutionary France befriends the duke of Orleans, Louis XVI’s cousin. And in Catherine Corsini’s «La Repetition,» two old friends, interpreted by Emmanuelle Beart and Pascale Bussieres, meet again but jealousy takes over as only one has succeeded in realizing the dreams they both once shared. The real-life couple of Charlotte Gainsbourg and Yvan Attal star in the latter’s charming «Ma Femme est une Actrice,» in which the duo fight to save their marriage from jealousy. In Marion Vernoux’s «Reines d’un Jour,» starring Karin Viard, Jane Birkin and Sergi Lopez, a group of characters’ daily lives are disturbed by accidental run-ins. A 35-year-old deaf woman faces social isolation in Jacques Audiard’s «Sur me Levres,» starring Emmanuelle Devos and Vincent Cassel, while in Tony Gatlif’s «Swing,» a young boy is carried away by music and gradually by Gypsy culture. Finally, Michel Serrault, Mathilde Seigner and Jean-Paul Roussillon star in Christian Carion’s «Une Hirondelle a fait le Printemps,» in which a young woman web-master decides to leave Paris and settle in the countryside. For the first time, this year the festival has established an audience appreciation award, to be given to the best unreleased film, while, in collaboration with the Thessaloniki Film Festival and the Ministry of Culture, the cinematic tribute to Isabelle Huppert will travel to Thessaloniki where screenings will take place at the Olympion Renault cinema from April 12 to April 18. The third French Film Festival screenings will be at the Apollon Renault Filmcenter, 19 Stadiou, tel 010. 323.6811. The tribute to Isabelle Huppert will be screened at the Athens French Institute, 31 Sina, tel 010 339.8600.

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