The 30th anniversary edition of French Film Festival UK begins today and runs until 15 December in more than 35 cinemas across the UK. If you can’t make it to a cinema, a selection of films are also available to watch at home in partnership with Curzon. The festival began three decades ago in Glasgow and Edinburgh, and has expanded over the years. As well as screenings for the general public, 75 schools and over 5000 students participated in the Festival’s Schools and Learning programmes in 2021. The programme offers screenings in cinemas and classrooms.
Here are some of the brilliant films we recommend seeing at this year’s festival, from a classic adaptation of Madame Bovary to a documentary about Simone Veil.
1. Full Time (À plein temps)
Starring Laure Calamy from Call My Agent! and winner of the César for best actress in 2021 for My Donkey, My Lover & I, the film follows Julie who is desperate to escape from her job as a cleaner. She is offered an interview for a marketing role but a strike hits on the day of the interview — will Julie make it in time? Winner of Best Actress and Best Director awards at last year’s Venice Film Festival.
Calamy also plays Annie in Angry Annie (Annie Colère), also showing as part of the Festival. Set in the mid-1970s, Annie, a working mother, comes across an organisation performing illegal abortions when she becomes pregnant for the third time. The film provides a fictional angle on the Movement for Liberty of Abortion and Contraception (MLAC), with a deep sense of the camaraderie and solidarity of the women’s movement.
2. Everything Went Fine (Tout s’est bien passé)
Based on an autobiographical novel by Emmanuèle Bernheim, the latest film from the legendary François Ozon examines the intricacies of family life. Emmanuelle’s (Sophie Marceau) father Andre (André Dussollier) has a stroke and asks her to help him end his life. Read more in our review.
3. Jane by Charlotte (Jane par Charlotte)
Through a series of touching mother-daughter conversations, Charlotte Gainsbourg provides an intimate portrait of her mother Jane Birkin, the model, singer, and actress. Official selection Cannes Film Festival 2021.
4. Don Juan
Laurent, a stage actor playing the role of the famous seducer Don Juan, is jilted on the day of his wedding but then has to act opposite the woman who left him. Directed by Serge Bozon and starring Tahar Rahim and Virginie Efira, this musical comedy-drama is not one to miss.
Read our review of Don Juan here.
5. Simone Veil, A Woman of the Century (Simone, le voyage du siècle)
Olivier Dahan directs this documentary about the extraordinary Simone Veil. Veil was health minister in several French governments and is best known for passing the 1975 law (Loi Veil) legalising abortion in France. She was the first female President of the European Parliament from 1979 to 1982 and served as a member of the Constitutional Council, France’s highest legal authority. A Holocaust survivor, Veil was the president of the Fondation pour la Mémoire de la Shoah. In 2008, Veil was elected to the Académie Française and received the grand cross of the Légion d’honneur in 2012. In 2018, she was buried at the Panthéon.
6. Between Two Worlds (Le quai de Ouistreham)
Based on French journalist Florence Aubenas’s book Le Quai de Ouistreham, the film explores the lives of contract cleaners in Caen through the eyes of journalist Marianne (Juliette Binoche) who goes “undercover”. Between Two Worlds (Le quai de Ouistreham) is one of several films you can watch from the comfort of your own home with Curzon Home Cinema.
7. Madame Bovary
The 1991 adaptation of Gustave Flaubert’s novel stars Isabelle Huppert as the infamous protagonist who pursues affairs with a local landowner and a law student while accumulating a staggering debt. Directed by Claude Chabrol, it also stars Jean-François Balmer and Christophe Malavoy.
Find out more about the French Film Festival UK including screening times and venues.
Lead photo credit : Charlotte Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin
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