Gallic actresses rule at film fest

FRENCH CONNECTION

Some of the top actresses in recent French film history star at this year’s French Film Festival, Friday through Aug. 8 at the Prytania Theater in Uptown New Orleans.

Eleven films will be shown in 15 screenings, featuring Catherine Deneuve, Anouk Aimee, Jeanne Moreau, Soko and Suzanne Clement, among others.

However, the highlight of this year’s festival is the presentation of three films by the late, legendary French filmmaker Jacques Demy (1931-1990), including his first production, “Lola” (1961), which was recently restored after the original negatives were destroyed in a fire.

Anouk Aimee, described as a “Gallic Marilyn Monroe,” stars in the title role of a sensuous and seductive nightclub performer.

Other Demy films being shown are “Bay of Angels” (1963) starring Moreau and “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg” (1964) with Deneuve in the lead female role.

Widely known as one of the pioneers of French New Wave films, Demy was noted for his mastery of stunning visual effects and for the musical soundtracks of his productions, many of which were composed by the renowned French composer Michel Legrand.

Jolene Pinder, executive director of the New Orleans Film Society, said: “We’re thrilled about this year’s Demy retrospective, especially the chance to offer rare presentations of his restored films.” The NOFS is the parent organization for the French Film Festival.

“We’re incredibly excited to expand the French Film Festival lineup this year,” Pinder added. “We’ve seen audiences for this event grow tremendously in the last two years and we’re eager to help feed this appetite for foreign film.” She also noted that the number of films has grown from nine last year to this year’s 11.

All of the films shown will be in French with English subtitles on the screen.

To read more details about the films and to view trailers for all of them go to http://neworleansfilmsociety.org/pages/detail/8/french-film-festival.

French films have a long, colorful history and they have been widely praised for their artistry, sensitivity and straightforwardness of content.

Legendary French filmmakers like François Truffaut, Jean Cocteau, Jean-Luc Godard, Claude Berri, Jean Renoir, François Ozon and many others have made French films synonymous with the best of what are classified as “foreign films.”

Ozon’s “In the House” is one of the films being shown at this year’s fest.

Continuing a tradition of past festivals, French and French-influenced musicians will accompany some of the screenings. The musicians are being sponsored by the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation and the entire event is a joint sponsorship between NOFS, NOJHF, the French Consulate, the Alliance Francaise and the French-American Chamber of Commerce.

The Alliance is sponsoring an opening night reception Friday in the lobby of the Prytania, starting at 6 p.m. Complimentary beer and wine will be served.