Report: Culture

French Channel town showcases British film for 25th year


The French may be proud - and protective - of their own world-renowned cinema but one town on the Channel coast showcases moves from over the water for five days every year. This year is the 25th Dinard Festival of British Film.


Film festivals come and go but this one seems to have taken root, as the mayor of Dinard mayor Martine Craveia-Schütz stressed in her welcoming speech on Thursday evening.

“We the Froggies, as eaters of frogs’ legs for the British, and they, the Rosbifs, as eaters of roast beef for us, have much to share," she said. "We, for one, appreciate the special kind of British humour.”

For 25 years now Dinard has dedicated five days a year to films from Britain, which is the second largest European producer of films.

It’s quite a special event.

This year's opening ceremony on Thursday night had its share of moving moments.

Michael Radford made the film 1984 30 years ago - in 1984 - with Richard Burton, Suzanna Hamilton and John Hurt.

Speaking in French, he told the crowd that he hadn’t had the heart to watch his film since, as it was such a powerful experience for a young director to direct the mighty Burton, who died, aged 58, shortly after it was finished.

Perhaps in Dinard he’ll see it with fresh eyes.

Dinard has helped launch films by the likes of Stephen Frears, Ken Loach and Mike Leigh in France over the years.

Peter Catteano’s The Full Monty might not have had the success it did if it hadn’t been the Golden Hitchcock winner here, festival director Hassam Hindi claims.

“This is a very good year,” he says.

Dossier: Cannes Film Festival 2014

Six films are vying for Dinard’s top prize, the Golden Hitchcock. Among them, The Riot Club by Lone Scherfig, Catch Me Daddy by Daniel Wolfe (which was also shown at the Cannes Film Festival's Director’s Fortnight), Franck by Leonard Abrahamson and Lilting by Hong Khaou.

Yann Demange's 71 sends a rookie private soldier, Hook, to Northern Ireland in 1971. Hook learns that life hangs on a thread and, if you never know who or why someone wants to kill you - do they know themselves? - , you never know who or why someone saves you - they usually do know though. Full of suspense, 71 is a violent mix inspired by real-life stories and events and a bunch of rather good actors.

The opening film Sunshine on Leith by Dexter Fletcher is an uneven film about several love stories among ordinary people, All you need is love, set in Edinburgh. The end is made-in-feel-good. It’s Bollywood-cum-Hollywood dance and song chorus sourced from one of Scotland’s finest bands of the past 25 years, the Proclaimers. You can spot some of Ken Loach’s favourite Scottish actors in this one.

The Goob, about a youngster living in rural eastern England with his mum and her rotten boyfriend, written and directed by Guy Myhill, is a very personal film.

Actor Paul Popplewell explained the film was low budget at about 1.25 million euros and the fact that some actors, including  Liam Walpole in the title role, were street-cast made it all the more personal, as well as friendly and worthwhile.

You definitely won’t find it in The Goob, but a bit of glamour does no harm to any film festival.

The jury president in this special year is world famous French actress Catherine Deneuve.

She presides over a team of French and British actors, actresses, directors, producers, distributors: Kevin McDonald, Emilia Fox, Sophie Duez, Léa Drucker, Jodie Whittaker, Penny Woolcock, Alexandre Mallet-Guy and Canadian Suzanne Clement, one of Xavier Dolan’s muses in his film Mommy, which won a prize at Cannes in May and has just been released in France to great acclaim.

The Golden Hitchcock winner this year will be announced on Saturday evening, along with awards for screenwriting and cinematography and the audience-choice award.

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