5 items from 2017
The rise of nationalist groups and xenophobia is once again a global issue, lending “This Is Our Land” a relevance well beyond the specific French political trends it fictionalizes. It also lends appeal to audiences beyond the European ones catered to in territorial releases earlier this year, before the recent high-profile French elections. The latter saw Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Front party take some losses that reassured many observers. But that outcome wasn’t guaranteed when Belgian writer-director Lucas Belvaux crafted his drama, which is loosely based on a novel by co-scenarist Jerome Leroy.
Here, a figure very much like Le Pen leads a supposedly kinder-gentler 2.0 version of the extremist bloc her father founded, its populist makeover encompassing the drafting of a hitherto apolitical working-class nurse as a local puppet candidate. Though marred by minor narrative-logic flaws, “Our Land” provides an insightful, non-hyperbolic perspective on Western extremism by »
- Dennis Harvey
Four times smaller than Brussels and with a population of around 700,000, the Francophone city of Liège has emerged as a major hub in the Belgian filmmaking industry. Bordering Germany and the Netherlands, Belgium’s easternmost city has been steadily growing its production and post-production infrastructure over the past several years, playing host to more than 41 shoots in 2016, as well some the most dynamic and consequential production shingles in the country.
This was not always the case. When native sons Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne (winners of the Palme d’Or for the “Rosetta” and “The Child”) opened Les Films du Fleuve in 1994 to finance their own films, they were pretty much the only game in town, alongside Les Films de la Passerelle, a non-fiction outlet devoted to socially minded documentaries.
A series of public reforms changed all that. In January 2000, the Walloon government introduced Wallimage, a regional investment fund with »
- Ben Croll
Paris –“Raid: Special Unit,” “Alibi.com,” and “Opera” looked to be among favourite titles at the 19th UniFrance Rendez-Vous with French Cinema, the annual Gallic film market attended by France’s sales agents and around 500 foreign distributors.
Based out of the Place d’Opera, one of Paris’ great grand hotels, the biggest national film showcase in Europe also saw sales on Elle Driver’’s “If I Were a Boy,” and Other Angle’s “Don’t Tell Her” and good word on “You Choose!” sold, like “Raid,” by Pathé .
Most major sales companies will take days if not weeks not close sales on negotiations broached at the Rendez-Vous; the initial reaction, however, is that, with Omar Sy starrer “Two is Family”earning a first-week $1.6 million in Germany off a Jan. 7 bow, the 2017 Rendez-Vous served up a stronger batch of comedies, its main export staple, than in 2017, while its buzz titles prescribed a wider gamut than last year, »
- John Hopewell and Elsa Keslassy
Paris – Studiocanal, one of Europe’s biggest film-tv companies, has acquired international rights to Benjamin Renner’s animated movie “Big Bad Fox and Other Tales,” from Didier Brunner’s Folivari, as well as live-action period drama “L’Ecole buissonnière,” the latest film from “Belle et Sebastien” director Nicolas Vanier.
The two titles join Studiocanal’s biggest French movie slate in recent years, which is to be presented to buyers Friday at the 2017 UniFrance Rendez-Vous with French Cinema in Paris.
Also on Studiocanal’s lineup are Vincent Cassel-starrer “Gauguin”; French vineyard-set “Back To Burgundy,” from Cedric Klapisch (“L’Auberge espagnole”); “Elementary,” toplining Sara Forestier (“The Name of Love”); and teen fantasy survival thriller “Alone,” from “It Boy’s” David Moreau, which will screen at the Rendez-Vous. »
- John Hopewell
From January 4-9, New York’s Film Society of Lincoln Center will run a series titled Illuminating Moonlight, featuring works that inspired Barry Jenkins‘ Moonlight and were handpicked by the director himself. Included in this lineup is Wong Kar-wai’s Happy Together, which makes perfect sense. Wong’s film, like Moonlight, tells of gay love and communicates its characters’ desires through both dreamy impressionism and a genre-spanning soundtrack. But these two are related in another, less obvious way, and this connection has to do with the contexts in which they were made. Happy Together premiered on May 17, 1997, less than two months before the handover of Hong Kong from Britain to China, while Moonlight debuted on September 2, 2016, right as cultural backlash against liberal progressivism reached its greatest intensity in the unexpectedly massive show of support for Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump. Hitting screens as their respective societies were on the brink of potentially cataclysmic change, »
- The Film Stage
5 items from 2017
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