Spotlight on France
VIFF honours the rich cinematic culture that continues to flourish in France by highlighting the nation’s finest big-screen offerings.
Films in this Series
A terrific cast featuring Zabou Breitman, Pascal Elbe, Jacques Gamblin and Sylvie Testud anchors Alexandre Arcady’s true-life thriller. "[The film] offers up a white-knuckle dramatization of the nearly month-long kidnapping and torture of 23-year-old Ilan Halimi, whose traumatic ordeal… prompted a massive police manhunt and, eventually, a national outcry against anti-Semitism in France… Captivating…"—Hollywood Reporter
The French title—time suspended—perfectly captures this affectionate celebration of the artisans who create fabulous haute-couture outfits for Dior, Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent: a third-generation specialist in pleat-making; a designer of perfect artificial flowers whose atelier opened in 1880; and one of three remaining sculptors of wooden forms for hat-making. A delightful look at a vanishing breed.
Catherine Deneuve owns the screen in her seventh collaboration with André Téchiné (Scene of the Crime, Thieves). She plays real-life casino owner Renée Le Roux, who went up against the mob in 1970s Nice and whose daughter Agnès (rising star Adèle Haenel, also in Love at First Fight) subsequently disappeared. Guillaume Canet (Tell No One) is the shady lawyer—Agnès’ lover—who may (or may not) be involved in the disappearance.
A celebrated Swiss architect and his wife embark on a trip to Ticinio and Rome in hopes that it will reinvigorate them (and kickstart his book about baroque architect Francesco Borromini). An encounter with teenage siblings dramatically changes the course and purpose of their journey. “A work that’s both weighted with scholarly inquiry and an undercurrent of poignancy unlike anything else.”—Indiewire
Provocateur Bruno Dumont (Humanité) delivers arguably his biggest shocker yet with this outrageous comedy. An absurdist police procedural, it follows a Clouseau-like, tic-infested inspector as he investigates a macabre murder spree (dead cows are being stuffed with human remains) and contends with mischievous interference courtesy of a pack of juvenile scoundrels led by the impish Quinquin. “Wonderfully weird and unexpectedly hilarious…”—Variety
Alain Resnais’ swan song is a wry, deliberately heightened adaptation of Alan Ayckbourn’s play. The unseen Riley is dying, but he still possesses the power to disrupt the marriages of his friends (Sabine Azéma, Sandrine Kiberlain, André Dussollier, Hippolyte Girardot). "This joyous yet melancholic effort… charts the woes of middle-class couples coping with problematic love lives, solitude and death…"—Hollywood Reporter. Winner, Alfred Bauer Prize, Berlin 2014.
An unflappable free spirit (Kevin Azaïs, casually charismatic) and driven survivalist (Adèle Haenel, intense and alluring) make for unlikely lovers in Thomas Cailley’s wonderfully oddball comedy. When the couple enlists in boot camp, paintball pellets stand in for Cupid’s arrows and their fledgling romance is put through the paces. "Overflowing with relentlessly acerbic humour…"—Hollywood Reporter. Winner, FIPRESCI Prize, Directors’ Fortnight, Cannes 2014.
Two very different pediatrician brothers (Cédric Kahn, Laurent Stocker) fall for the same barmaid (the luminous Louise Bourgoin) in Axelle Ropert’s (The Wolberg Family) intelligent romance. "Reminiscent of… [the] cleverly scripted adult dramas of François Truffaut’s late period. It’s at once astutely observed and deeply, though subtly, passionate… The direction and performances are spot-on throughout."—Hollywood Reporter
Acclaimed and controversial French author Michel Houellebecq is the centre of this hilarious and strange mélange of real life and fiction. When the notorious curmudgeon (playing himself) is kidnapped and anesthetized with alcohol, a caustic (and occasionally inebriated) game of cat and mouse commences and the barriers between captor and captive slowly dissolve… Winner, Best Screenplay, Tribeca 2014.
Yves Saint Laurent receives a suitably stylish, well-tailored biopic courtesy of director Jalil Lespert, who delves into the iconic designer’s meteoric rise, relationship with Pierre Bergé (Guillaume Gallienne) and creative crises. Pierre Niney "doesn’t play Saint Laurent so much as embody him… [and] Ibrahim Maalouf’s score occasionally dares to go for baroque or broke, lending an operatic quality to the proceedings that suits the material.”—Hollywood Reporter