Portrait of a Lady on Fire. via FFF

Prague’s French Film Festival highlights recent popular hits and a few classics

Four Prague cinemas will show French films, many of which have won festival prizes

The 22nd edition of the French Film Festival runs in Prague from November 20 to 27, at Lucerna, Světozor, Edison Film Hub, and Kino 35 in the French Institute. Some films will also run in regional towns and cities.

New films in the previews and hits sections will be shown in French with Czech subtitles, but the Critics’ Choice section some of the entries in the retrospective sections will have English and Czech subtitles.

The preview section has films that will soon go into Czech distribution. The festival opens with the comedy La belle époque (Tenkrát podruhé), a time travel story with a twist. A company builds elaborate move sets and hires extras so you can visit another time. A man, played by Daniel Auteuil, wants to go back to the1970s to relive his best day. Fanny Ardant also stars.

La belle époque
La belle époque. via FFF

Another coming film is Portrait of a Lady on Fire (Portrét dívky v plamenech / Portrét dívky v plamenech), a historical drama that won the award for Best Screenplay at Cannes as well as the Queer Palm. A female painter recounts here experiences with an enigmatic female subject she encountered long ago in Brittany.

Fans of screen icon Isabelle Huppert won’t want to miss White as Snow (Bílá jako padlý sníh / Blanche Comme Neige), directed by Anne Fontaine. The comedy is a modern-day twist on themes from Snow White, with a stepmother plotting to kill her stepdaughter, and seven local men falling in love with her.

The section of film hits has French films that were recently in Czech cinemas, such as Love at Second Sight (Láska na druhý pohled / Mon inconnue), and A Faithful Man (Věrní nevěrní / L’Homme fidèle).

The Critics’ Choice section, which is also a viewer competition for the TV5Monde prize, offers eight recent films with English subtitles. Director André Téchiné and star Catherine Deneuve are together for Farewell to the Night (Sbohem noci / L’Adieu à la nuit), about a grandson who has dark secrets. Catherine Deneuve also stars in Happy Birthday (Rodinná oslava / Fête de famille) about a tense family gathering.

The comedy On a Magical Night (Pokoj 212 / Chambre 212) sees a woman going to a hotel to contemplate her life. Chiara Mastroianni won the award for Best Performance at Cannes.

Director François Ozon’s By the Grace of God (Chvála Bohu / Grâce à Dieu) won won the Jury Grand Prix at the Berlin International Film Festival. Three people, now adults, seek to break the silence around abuse by priests.

Films with English subtitles can be found in the retrospective of director Henri-Georges Clouzot, famous for his thrillers in the 1950s and ’60s. Wages of Fear (Mzda strachu / Le Salaire de la peur), starring Yves Montand, has several rogues transporting nitroglycerin through treacherous roads. It won the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival and the Palme d’Or at Cannes. His Diabolique (Ďábelské ženy / Les Diaboliques) set a new standard for horror mystery. Both films were remade decades later in Hollywood.

Clouzot’s documentary The Mystery of Picasso (Tajemný Picasso / Le Mystère Picasso) shows the artist at work. The paintings made were destroyed so that the film would be the only record of them.

The section on actress Adèle Haenel has two films with English subtitles. In the Name of My Daughter (Neodolatelný muž / L’Homme qu’on aimait trop), from director André Téchiné paired again with Catherine Deneuve, is inspired by the real life of a casino heiress. Orphan (Sirotek / Orpheline) has a young woman trying to escape he past by moving to Paris.

Two blocks of shorts also have English subtitles.

To see the full program and buy tickets visit the official festival site at www.festivalff.cz.

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