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The French Film Festival UK to launch new version

The biggest and starriest showcase of French cinema ever seen will be presented around the UK during March 2006 – in both independent and multiplex cinemas.

The Renault French Film Festival 2006 - a new fusion of two events that previously have promoted le cinema français in the UK, will deliver a stimulating and, at times, challenging array of films in nine key locations: London, Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Dundee.

The French Film Festival UK which began 14 years ago in a modest way in two Scottish cities, had gradually grown to encompass venues in major cities and embraced a wide spectrum of French cinema from big hits to cutting edge new directors and retrospectives. For three years the Renault French Film Season had been promoting with UniFrance a selection of French films with UK distribution to be released nationally over the months ahead.

Together as the Renault French Film Festival the impact will be even greater with titles featuring such stellar names as Gérard Depardieu, Daniel Auteuil, Charlotte Rampling, Emmanuelle Béart and Jeanne Moreau, several of whom are expected to put in personal appearances.

Many film-makers and actors from the French film industry will accompany the seven launch films for their London premiere Gala Screenings:

• Olivier Marchal’s 36 / 36 Quai des Orfèvres: a striking film noir set on the streets of Paris sees rival police officers battling to be first to convict a violent armed gang and earn the coveted promotion to be Chief of Police....starring Gerard Depardieu, Daniel Auteuil and Valeria Golino
Tartan Films – UK release May 2006

• Olivier Duscatel and Jacques Martineau’s Cockles & Muscles / Crustacés et coquillages: a comedy of sexual manners; a family holiday becomes complicated by amorous adventures … starring Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi, Gilbert Melki, Jean-Marc Barr, Jacques Bonnaffé
Parasol Peccadillo – UK release April 14

• Danis Tanovic’s Hell / L'Enfer: the second of three films based on Krzysztof Kieslowski's Heaven, Purgatory, Hell trilogy, starring Emmanuelle Béart, Marie Gillain, Karin Viard and Carole Bouquet.
Momentum Pictures – UK release April 21

• Dominik Moll’s Lemming: in competition, Opening Night film, Cannes 2005. A Hitchcockian, surreal, and darkly comic psychological thriller…..starring Laurent Lucas, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Charlotte Rampling and André Dussollier
Artificial Eye – UK release April 14

• Cedric Klapisch’s Russian Dolls / Les poupées russes: Five years after their year together in Barcelona, the exuberant inhabitants of L'auberge espagnole (aka Pot Luck) reunite for a Russian wedding……starring Romain Duris, Kelly Reilly, Kevin Bishop, Audrey Tautou and Cécile de France.
CinéFile – UK release May 2006

• François Ozon’s Time to Leave / Le temps qui reste: Official Selection Cannes 2005. Romain, a young photographer of thirty, suddenly learns he has only a few months left to live. … starring Melvil Poupaud, Jeanne Moreau and Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi
Artificial Eye – UK release May 5

The Panorama section of the Festival is devoted to titles by established directors featuring such big name stars as Carole Bouquet, Sandrine Bonnaire, Sabine Azéma, and, from the younger generation, Romain Duris and Audrey Tautou. Themes range from school rebellion (Bad Spelling, to be released by CineFile), and 1968 revolutionary fervour (Regular Lovers, Artificial Eye).

Cutting-edge, new talent is celebrated in the Discovery section. Xavier Giannoli’s An Adventure (Momentum Pictures) depicts a strange psychological encounter between Ludivine Sagnier and Nicolas Duvauchelle, while Mon Ange (Parasol Peccadillo) features Vanessa Paradis in her first screen role for six years, playing a hooker with a heart of gold who suddenly finds her world turned upside down.

Masterclasses, open to all, have been scheduled with Bertrand Tavernier, the subject of the 2006 retrospective. As someone who has carved his own unique niche in French cinema as a dedicated cinéphile, producer, script-writer, and director, Tavernier has won countless international awards for his work which will be discussed at public events in London, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dundee. He will also present his latest film Holy Lola with Jacques Gamblin and Isabelle Carré plus the cult hit Death Watch, made in Glasgow with Romy Schneider and Harvey Keitel.

The festival is presided over by honorary patron Sylvain Chomet, the Oscar-nominated creator of Belleville Rendez-vous currently working on this side of the Channel - another example of Franco-British fusion in action. He describes the selection as "a veritable embarras de richesse."

The event is arranged by The French Film Festival UK, Institut français du Royaume-Uni and UniFrance with the support of title sponsor Renault, Cineworld Cinemas, Alliance française, Total, Scottish Screen, Blason de Bourgogne, Sofitel St James, Air France, Sky, TV5, core cinemas Edinburgh Filmhouse, Glasgow Film Theatre, and London Cine Lumière, and many other collaborators. A sister event of the French Film Festival UK, the Italian Film Festival UK will move to dates in November 2006 to allow for the changeover.

Richard Mowe, director of the French Film Festival UK, said he believed the partnership would revitalise both events and avoid any confusion in the minds of the public. “Audiences did not understand why there were two events and mixed them up. It makes sense to make an even bigger splash together – and we’re looking forward to unveiling this reinvigorated programme.”

Frédéric Lavigne, Audiovisual Attaché at the French Institute in London who instigated the original Renault-UGC-UniFrance event, said: “This will be a major showcase for le cinéma français in the UK taking place in both mainstream cinemas and art house venues. We feel sure that audiences will appreciate the formula and the added cultural connections.”

Philippe Talou-Derible, Managing Director of Renault UK, said: “It is with immense pleasure that Renault UK are again the title sponsor of the Renault French Film Festival, supporting the interesting, sumptuous array of French Films in British Cinemas.”

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