IFI FRENCH FILM FES­TI­VAL 2018

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - THE TAKE - TARABRADY

For all the wealth of cinema in Europe, no na­tion has man­aged to catch up with the French for breadth of out­put or rep. The an­nual French Film Fes­ti­val at the Irish Film In­sti­tute con­firms as much with an­other over­stuffed sac of Gal­lic plea­sures. Some will even­tu­ally make it into cin­e­mas. Some will not.

Claire Burger, direc­tor of the ef­fer­ves­cent Party Girl, will be in town on open­ing night to dis­cuss her much-lauded Real Love. The film stud­ies the pres­sures that fall upon teenagers when their fam­ily sep­a­rates.

Lukas Dhont’s Girl has been pick­ing up gongs across the world since win­ning the Caméra d’Or for best first fea­ture at Cannes. The Bel­gian film fol­low­ing a young dancer as she un­der­goes gen­der re­as­sign­ment surgery, fea­tures a breath­tak­ing per­for­mance from Vic­tor Pol­ster. Picked up by Net­flix in the US, it will surely win many ar­dent ad­mir­ers in Dublin.

Stéphane Brizé is fast con­sol­i­dat­ing his rep­u­ta­tion as a master of so­cial re­al­ism – suc­ces­sor to Robert Guédigu­ian, per­haps – and his lat­est film At War is no less ur­gent than pre­de­ces­sors such as The Mea­sure of a Man. The im­pos­si­bly tal­ented Vin­cent Lin­don stars as a union rep try­ing to pro­tect his mem­bers as a car plant is shut down.

The fes­ti­val also fea­tures the lat­est from the re­li­able Christophe Honoré. Sorry An­gel is a sad, pas­sion­ately en­gaged story of liv­ing in the shadow of Aids. Bol­stered by a clev­erly cu­rated sound­track of 1990 mu­sic – Ride, The Sun­days – the film ef­fec­tively con­jures up an era that is fast dis­ap­pear­ing from col­lec­tive con­scious­ness.

Fans of an awk­ward, equally loathed and loved enigma will be queu­ing up for Julien Fa­raut’s ex­trav­a­gantly ti­tled John McEn­roe: In the Realm of Per­fec­tion. The doc­u­men­tary, nar­rated by Mathieu Amal­ric, com­prises 16mm footage shot at the French Open in the early 1980s. There will be shouting.

We’re giv­ing a bigly emo­tioned thumbs-up to Yann Gon­za­lez’s eye-pop­ping Knife + Heart. Based in the gay porn busi­ness dur­ing the late 1970s, the pic­ture stars the very game Vanessa Par­adis as a direc­tor who gets caught up in the af­fairs of a se­rial killer. The French do have a habit of nod­ding to­wards Brian de Palma at ev­ery op­por­tu­nity, but few have done so with such shame­less vul­gar­ity. You may not like it. But you’ll know you’ve seen some­thing.

Also look out for new films from the won­der­ful Mia Hansen-Løve, Philippe Fau­con and Cedric Kahn. M Kahn will present a mas­ter­class in co-oper­a­tion with Screen Train­ing Ire­land.

This year’s ret­ro­spec­tive takes pun­ters through he ir­re­sistible work of the peren­ni­ally pop­u­lar Hen­riGe­orges Clouzot. Only Hitch­cock (a con­fessed fan­boy) did more to ex­pand the vo­cab­u­lary of ten­sion. A jour­nal­ist will be in­tro­duc­ing a screen­ing of his still sphinc­ter-tight­en­ing thriller Les Di­aboliques. C’est moi. That’s the one with Vera Clouzot as a pair of col­leagues in a re­mote French school who plot to do away with the abu­sive head­mas­ter. Take this chance to see a clas­sic on the big screen. Dr Dou­glas Smith, se­nior lec­turer at the school of lan­guages, cul­tures and lin­guis­tics at UCD, will be in­tro­duc­ing the ex­trav­a­gantly para­noid The Raven. Seán Kis­sane, cu­ra­tor of ex­hi­bi­tions at the Irish Mu­seum of Mod­ern Art, will be talk­ing about Clouzot’s doc­u­men­tary The Mys­tery of Pi­casso.

You want more. There’s Belle and Se­bas­tian. No, not the melodic Scot­tish mis­er­ab­lists. For chil­dren, the fes­ti­val presents a new adap­ta­tion of the novel se­ries that ul­ti­mately in­spired the band name.

PHO­TO­GRAPHS: COUR­TESY OF THE IFI

Clock­wise from above left: Sarah Henochs­berg, Bouli Lan­ners and Jus­tine Lacroix in Claire Burger’sReal Love; Pierre De­ladon­champs and Vin­cent La­coste in SorryAn­gel; Vanessa Par­adis and Ni­co­las Maury inKnife + Heart; John McEn­roe: In the Realm of Per­fec­tion; and Pierre Fres­nay in Henri-Ge­orges Clouzot’s The Raven.

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