The students at the ILA French Immersion School in Montpellier are always on the lookout for new French films to enjoy. Being able to relax and be entertained without any guilt about watching something in English is an attractive proposition. There are many avenues to get your hands on French films; there are tons at the French language school itself which you can borrow for free for example. On top of this the language school is surrounded by cinemas so it’s very easy to head off to watch something straight after your French classes are finished for the day. Choosing what to watch however, can sometimes be a little more daunting. There is so much choice. So, I thought I would give you a run-down of some of top choices from the Cannes Film Festival (2017) so you have some ideas to work off. There are loads of different juries and competitions within the judging and I will be talking about films from all over the festival.
Grand Prix – 120 BPM (120 battements par minute)
This is a drama directed by Robin Campillo about homosexuality and the AIDS epidemic. The stars are Nahuel Pérez Biscayart, Armaud Valois and Adèle Haenel. This touching movie is set in France in the 1990s and follows a group of HIV/AIDS activists associated with the Paris chapter of ACT UP; an ongoing international direct-action advocacy group (actupparis.org) working to bring about legislation, medical research, treatment and policies to ultimately bring an end to the disease. The film has received huge critical acclaim and won 4 awards at the festival for its intensely touching plot. This is great for people learning French in France as you will have a chance to learn about French, culture, history and the language whilst enjoying a moving drama.
The Poetry of Cinema Award – Barbara
Another drama directed by Mathieu Amalric. It follows an actress called Brigitte (Jeanne Balibar) as she prepares for the daunting task of playing the roleof the famous French singer; Barbara. It follows Brigitte as she closely studies everything about her subject: her story, character, gestures, mannerisms and the way she speaks. As she gets closer to Barbara she begins to do more than just act the part. Meanwhile the director of the fictitious movie tears through old footage of the famous actress like a man possessed, finding anything he can becomes his sole ambition. With the two characters converging on one subject what will be the result?
SADC Award – L’Amant d’un jour (Lover for a Day)
Labelled as a romantic dramedy this charming film was directed by Phillipe Garrel and was screened in one of the slightly smaller sections at the festival. It follows a philosophy professor who has a forbidden relationship with one of his students. Things get a little more complicated when the professors daughter is kicked out of her boyfriend’s flat. The emotionally injured girl comes to live with her father and the taboo relationship becomes even more troublesome. This film forms the third of a trilogy of films from the same director all focusing on love. The first was ‘La Jalousie’ (Jealousy 2013) and starred Phillipe Garrel himself as an impoverished actor. Despite his troublesome situation his ambitions are more focused on making his girlfriend a star but is failing to get her decent work, how long can his failure continue before she becomes disenchanted? The second was ‘L’Ombre des femmes’ (In the Shadow of Women 2015) which centres around a group of documentary makers who are also in the midst of a love triangle……..a maybe a shape with more sides?
There are a few films to get your film fix for a few days and learn a bit of recent French culture whilst improving your language skills at the same time. I hope you like them and they make for some good conversation in your French Intensive course in Montpellier.