Festa do Cinema Francês

Culture

Festa do Cinema Francês

The thought-provoking task of bringing the best in French film is, year after year, conquered by this brilliant festival.

Words: Sandra Marques Augusto Photography: Courtesy of Festa do Cinema Francês

Festa do Cinema Francês

Between 4 October and 11 November of last year, we were witnesses to yet another instalment of Festa do Cinema Francês, Lisbon's official French film festival.

This event is considered by Jean-Michel Casa, Portugal's ambassador to France, to be "mandatory for all French film and culture lovers", and has even carved out its placeas an icon for the city, we might add.

Because, indeed, year after year, for almost two decades, we have been bestowed with such a vast and rich array of film production and everything that pertains to it.

And this edition 19 has confirmed the rule and surprised us yet again: 40 films, three of which are animation and 27 are debuting feature films; a retrospective devoted to Henri-Georges Clouzout, the both famous and infamous director who has explored the detective, thriller and documentary genres; a parallel broadcasting programme on Cinemundo; gatherings, masterclasses and school sessions; the independent films cycle ACID; and, of course, a cycle focusing on this year’s godfather, Jean-Paul Rappenau.

But more than a great opportunity to come in contact with French culture and its film industry, the Festa is a space of reflection where realities different from ours are uncovered and where different angles are presented to us so we can perceive them.

L’amour Debut, Michaël Dacheux (2018)

“Cinema is the intensification of life, the sublimation of reality what helps us and inspires us to forge ahead”

En Guerre, Stéphane Brizé (2018)

There are subjects that are ubiquitous to arts and culture, whether it’s French or any other, but it becomes indisputable that every year we see themes that are the common thread — by deliberate choice or not — and, as far as we can tell, there were three subject matters arising: firstly, the new lifestyle paradigms that are built, in parallel or as an alternative to traditional ones, within the scope or from the inside outwards, and consequently alternative or natural evolution.

To some extent, they are justified by the social and economic conjectures, but mainly by the conscientious choices of each individual, and this is where they differ from other times.

Secondly, the women’s and children’s rights, not much for the approach to it, but the urgency in giving voice and valuing their choices; lastly, the clash of societies, cultures and mindsets, which, in a context of globalisation, seem to make sense, but are the inevitable outcome of an increasingly reduced geography.

This festival is mandatory for all French film and culture lovers.

Cyrano de Bergerac, Jean-Paul Rappeneau (1990)

Un Violent Désir de Bonheur, Clément Schneider (2018)

"Festa do Cinema Francês is a space of reflection where realities different from ours are uncovered".

This is the great merit and the biggest sin of Festa do Cinema Francês, to expand horizons where barriers are being raised, to offer a way where borders are being sealed, to dig tunnels through collapsed walls. Without soldiers of fortune or blue helmets, without humanitarian trains or special observers. Effective?

We believe so, otherwise the number of participants would’ve weakened during these 19 years of festival, the investment would’ve queue up behind the debts towards IMF, the Portuguese public would’ve attended in a much minor scale and the festival’s map would’ve limited to Lisbon and Porto. Assumptions that have no place here, we’d say.

The 19th edition of the Festa do Cinema Francês spread out to 11 Portuguese cities, brought 13 guests to Portugal, and granted us with the restored copy of the famous Cyrano de Bergerac, the award-winning film directed by Rappenau and starred by Gérard Depardieu. Once again, the festival's organisation team is owed a sincere congratulations, with a round of applause for the Institut Français du Portugal, the Embassy of France and for the national network Alliances Françaises, but also for every city’s official and cultural entities.

• Published on 10 April 2019 •

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