Eastleigh Film Festival: The French Cinema Night

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Following our first article on Eastleigh Film Festival Opening Night with the screening of the Shining and in attendance of BBC Film Critic Danny Leigh, The Edge comes back to the French Cinema Night held during the week long festival in Eastleigh. The festival itself takes part to the European Recreated Programme, enabling a very strong link between cities of Northern France and England; the French Cinema Night finds its root in these associations and developed as one of the strong strand, yet slightly aside, of the festival.

The evening opened with our very own Film Lecturer Lucy Mazdon, who offered an enlightening comment on the place of French cinema in the UK. From Jean Pierre Jeunet’s Amélie to the famous French New Waves features, French cinema is undoubtedly present in art houses around the country, forming a strong point of references for British cinéphiles. Yet, films that reach the other side of the channel is only a fraction of what French audiences get to see themselves. This fraction hitting anglo-saxon audience has actually been shape to a certain standard for decades through highbrow film societies and the refusal of mainstream audience to connect with subtitled material. Long story short, there’s a whole French cinema out there that struggles to find an audience in Britain and the adventurous distributors importing these films to the UK often face marketing issues when confronting the identity of their product to the restricted standards expected.

Far from setting for these restricted standard of romanticized filmed France, the Eastleigh Film Festival proposed that evening three very eclectic shorts and a screening of The Illusionist by Sylvain Chomet. Among the shorts, La Fugue (The Runaway, Jean-Bernard Marlin, 22mins, 2013) and Ce n’est pas un film de cow-boys (It’s Not a Cowboy Movie, Benjamin Parent, 11mins, 2013). If the first relates an already-seen story of the French banlieue conventionally, the second clearly stand out by its fresh narrative and the performance of the teens actors. Set in between classes in a high school, four kids talk about the film that was on TV the previous night: Brokeback Mountain. Finally, the feature film The Illusionist, core event of the evening, was showed and followed by a Q&A with the animator Eric Ormond.

Directed by Sylvain Chomet, The Illusionist is an Oscar-nominated French feature. This beautifully animated story follows the life of a French illusionist who finds himself out of work. He decides to travel to Scotland, where he meets a young woman. Their ensuing adventure changes both their lives forever. Less known than The Triplets of Belleville, the film showcases the same poetry through its animation and visual story, with dialogue holding in a nutshell. Éric Ormond’s directorial debut Loulou, will be showing as part of the BFI London Film Festival.

The Illusionist (2010), directed by Sylvain Chomet, was shown as part of the Eastleigh Film Festival on the 24 September. Certificate PG.

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Ex-Film Editor and future ex-MA student, dissecting films since 2006.

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