French Film Festival UK brings the best French films to Chichester
Richard Mowe and a colleague set the film festival up in Edinburgh and Glasgow 30 years ago: “At the time myself and a colleague thought there was just not enough variety of French cinema being shown in this country. The French make about 230 odd films a year including co-productions and at the time we were just seeing only a handful of them on the screens.”
Since then things have improved and there are a number of companies now that show French films in their cinemas including Curzon and Picturehouse: “I think things have definitely improved since those days when we were starved of French cinema but I do think back then there was a general reluctance to see films with subtitles. Netflix has certainly helped since then with enormously successful French series such as Call My Agent. I think people have actually got much more used to seeing things with subtitles so I do think things here are very much better now.
“I think in a way probably the breakthrough was the success of the film Amelie. It was a film I suppose that had a very simple story and was very visual. It was produced almost as a film that was not a French film. It was captivating, it was about a young girl and it was set in Paris and it looked lovely and I think it was a film that really entranced the public, and it certainly helped in terms of screening French films in this country.
“We do a lot of screenings for schools and for young people and they just don't have a problem with subtitles, and the subtitles in fact can be very good. There are a few people that are the preferred subtitlers in France. These people are really, really good. Sometimes films can read a little bit like Google translate and sometimes it can be not very good at all but I don't think that matters really too much if the film is strong enough. A lot of people that go to the French Film Festival are probably francophiles anyway with a working knowledge of French. It's not a completely unfamiliar language for them and I think perhaps that they are probably using the subtitles just to support their understanding of the French.”
The film festival stretches from Shetland down to Plymouth, mostly in the big centres, and Richard has always been delighted with Chichester's enthusiasm for it.
Films remaining in the festival at the Chichester Cinema at New Park are:
Peter Von Kant (15), December 9, 20:15. François Ozon goes back to his roots with this reworking of a Fassbinder classic, 1972’s chamber piece The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant.
The Best Years Of A Life (15), December 12, 18:00. Claude Lelouch’s romantic classic A Man and a Woman is one of the most successful French films of all time. Lelouch returned to Cannes four years ago for a reprise in The Best Years of a Life which reunites its stars playing the same characters 53 years later.
Kompromat (15), December 14, 14.30, 18:00. Jérôme Salle’s new espionage thriller depicts the remarkable story of a French public servant.