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Seriously French films surface in 68th Cannes Film Festival

The 68th Cannes Film Festival opens Wednesday 13 May under the radiant smile of late actress Ingrid Bergman
The 68th Cannes Film Festival opens Wednesday 13 May under the radiant smile of late actress Ingrid Bergman Reuters/Benoit Tessier

The 68th Cannes Film Festival opens Wednesday night with a French film screening for art’s sake and not competing for a Golden Palm. Emmanuelle Bercot’s drama, Standing Tall, about youth delinquency stars Catherine Deneuve and Benoit Magimel.


Among the stars at Wednesday night's opening will be French star Lambert Wilson. He was so good at hosting the ceremonies last year, that he has the job again this year. He has given away the tenor of his opening cermony speech saying he wants to bring up the situation of women in war zones.

Standing Tall is also one of the several French films in 2015. Thierry Frémaux, the festival's artistic director, told RFI it's simply a good year for French films, from newer directors like Stéphane Brizet with La Loi du Marché (The Measure of a Man), Valérie Donzelli with Marguerite and Julien, Maïwenn with Mon Roi (My King) or Guillaume Nicloux, whose The Valley of Love stars controversy-magnet Gérard Depardieu, and Isabelle Huppert. “The selection is made by the best films we saw. Not because they are French. We really loved these movies.”

Click here for our coverage of Cannes Film Festival 2015

In fact, a number of films, like Golden Palm competitors Greek Yorgis Lanthimos’ The Lobster (mainly Irish but also a bit French, British and Dutch) or Mexican Michel Franco’s Chronic, an American film starring British actor Tim Roth, break national film-industry borders.

Another movie which highlights the complex work of film production is Ethiopian Yared Zeleke’s Lamb. It was a late addition to the Un Certain Regard section of the festival and is also up for the Golden Camera award for best first feature. Lamb’s production team comes from Ethiopia (Slum Kids Films), France (Gloria Films and Dublin Films), Germany (Heimat Film) and Norway (Film Farms).

Undisguised social concern sets the tone for the 2015 Festival, although Cannes likes to offer a full range of cinema emotions in different doses. This could explain the festival’s choice of, amongst others in the out-of-competition screening, Mad Max: Fury Road starring Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron. It’s shot in the desert of Namibia and directed by Australian George Miller and according to those in the know, full of exciting special effects and wild, action-packed adventure.

Indeed, often overlooked is the fact that Cannes is arguably the biggest film market in the world. Producers show their wares on stands in an exhibition hall at the back of the Palais des Festival where the 50 selected are screened in the Lumière Théâtre and others. Blockbusters which may earn more in the box-office than in prizes lurk in the market’s unglamorous cubicles.

Happy or sad, old or new, big or small budget you can find it at Cannes. And often overlooked French cinema, having struggled it seems, to find its voice in recent years, is making a comeback.

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