26th French Film Festival 2023
Lifestyle,  Philippines

Make Iconic Choices: The 26th French Film Festival

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Reach the audience beyond Makati — this is one of the goals of the 26th French Film Festival this 2023. For many years, the film festival was a hit among regular movie patrons in the business district. This year, the film festival aims to reach a wider set of audience, particularly the youth, to promote French films, art, and culture. With this year’s diverse line up, surely, there is a film for every one’s liking.

The 26th French Film Festival is part of France’s “Make It Iconic” campaign in the Philippines to highlight France’s economic, tourism, and cultural contributions, which can boost the partnership between the two countries. As part of the film festival’s soft launch, a press preview was held last November 16, 2023, wherein three of the 21 films were shown to the members of the media catering to various written and digital platforms.

French Film Festival 2023 press preview
With the press and content creators.

During the introduction of the films, Martin Macalintal, Cultural and Audiovisual Attaché of the French Embassy, said, “There are many similarities between French and Philippine culture.”

Here are Smash That Screen’s short reviews of the three films.

Les Trois Mousquetaires – D’Artagnan (The Three Musketeers: D’Artagnan)

  • Director: Martin Bourboulon
  • Rating: 89/100

Synopsis: This film adaptation of the 1844 novel The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas follows the adventure of D’Artagnan (François Civil) on his quest to becoming a member of the Musketeers of the Guard in Paris, France, after saving a girl from being kidnapped. This is the first of a two-part epic saga as D’Artagnan tries to prove himself and claim his rightful place among the musketeers alongside the titular trio Athos (Vincent Cassel), Porthos (Pio Marmaï), and Aramis (Romain Duris).

Review: While the film heavily relies on strong male-led cast, the female characters, particularly Milady de Winter (Eva Green) and Constance Bonacieux (Lyna Khoudri), were not overshadowed and had not just moments to shine but also impactful cinematic arc crucial to the shifts in the direction of the story. Cinematography and storytelling are topnotch because a great sense of visual authenticity was shown as to how Alexander Dumas described the 1600s France in the novel. Overall, this first movie in a two-part movie series is set up as a strong introduction and stirs excitement as to how the story of the musketeers will turn out.

Bernadette

  • Director: Léa Domenach
  • Rating: 83/100

Synopsis: This political biopic of former first lady of France, Bernadette Chirac (Catherine Deneuve), showcases her life as an strongly influential political figure during her husband’s, former president of France, Michel Vuillermoz (Jacques Chirac), two-term tenure. The film portrays their rise to fame; their struggles as a political family; and Bernadette’s transition to being a crucial factor in political paradigm shift in France.

Review: The film provided more than just a glimpse into the politics of France. The story strongly bridges the gap between this political family behind closed doors and how they are in public. In a sense, the film exposed their vulnerability and presented that these characters are very much like ordinary citizens, only living in such a political stance and, to an extent, a celebrity status. Catherine Deneuve as Bernadette Chirac is such a strong female lead and translates the character well to the screen. She was superb to the point that it felt like she is Bernadette Chirac herself and was not just a portrayal of the character.

Astérix et Obélix: l’Empire du Milieu (Asterix & Obelix: The Middle Kingdom)

  • Director: Guillaume Canet
  • Rating: 65/100

Synopsis: Astérix (Guillaume Canet) and Obélix (Gilles Lellouche) help Princess Fu Yi (Julie Chen) after she escaped from a prince who is a threat to her life. The quest serves as a test to the friendship of Astérix and Obélix in working together for the princess’ safety.

Review: The antics were on point. While the comedic banters can be a little eccentric, a lot of them were effective in the specific scenes they were at. Astérix and Obélix as the lead characters showed strong chemistry together. However, during individual scenes, their characters felt short in terms of standing out on their own. While it was clear where the direction of the story is heading to, the journey getting their is quite messed up and felt like the major acts in the film are not tied together effectively. There are scenes, particularly a scene where Astérix and Obélix reflected on their weaknesses and shortcomings, that shine through, but taken together, how the story was executed is a little underwhelming.

List of films for the 26th French Film Festival

26th French Film Festival 2023

Here is the complete list of 21 films of the 26th French Film Festival.

  • Acide (Acid Rain)
  • Alibi.com 2
  • Anatomie d’Une Chute (Anatomy of a Fall)
  • Astérix et Obélix: l’Empire du Milieu (Asterix & Obelix: The Middle Kingdom)
  • Bernadette
  • Daaaaaali!
  • D’Argent et de Sang (Of Money and Blood)
  • Goliath
  • Indes Gallantes (Gallant Indies)
  • La Passion de Dodin Bouffant (The Taste of Things)
  • Le Dernier Métro (The Last Metro)
  • Les Deux Alfred (The Two Alfreds)
  • Les Egares (Strayed)
  • Les Choses Qu’on Dit, Les Choses Qu’on Fait (The Things We Say, The Things We Do)
  • Les Parapluies de Cherbourg (The Umbrellas of Cherbourg)
  • Les Trois Mousquetaires – D’Artagnan (The Three Musketeers: D’Artagnan)
  • Manon des Sources (Manon of the Sources)
  • Nelly et Monsieur Arnaud (Nelly and Mr. Arnaud)
  • Regne Anima (Animal Kingdom)
  • Supremes
  • Un Silence si Bruyant (Such a Resounding Silence)

The official launch will happen on November 25, 2023, at the SM Mall of Asia with Acide (Acid Rain) as the opening film. The 26th French Film Festival will run from November 25 to December 3, 2023, at SM Mall of Asia and SM Megamall cinemas.

For more information on the films, screening times, and tickets, check out the official Facebook page of SM Cinema, SM Mall of Asia, SM Megamall, Alliance française de Manille, and the Embassy of France to the Philippines and Micronesia.

This film festival is in partnership with the Institut Français and the Film Development Council of the Philippines.

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