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Festival du film français in Gisborne

A French Film Festival featuring 24 films will screen at the Odeon Multiplex from tomorrow. A full programme of screenings can be found at www.odeongisborne.co.nz.

Meanwhile, one French film fan gives 10 reasons to watch French films.

1. If you cannot travel to France, France has travelled to you. Here is your chance to see Biarritz, Paris, Cap Ferret, the Carmargue, the Tour de France and other locations. For a few hours be transported from Elgin to the Champs-Elysees, from Tairawhiti to the Tuileries. No passport required.

2. Become acquainted with French celebrities including Catherine Denueve, Alain Delon, Charles Aznavour as well as more contemporary actors such as Vincent La Coste, Eva Green and Marion Cotillard. The French cinema celebrates a diverse range of faces. The camera does not shy away from wrinkles or imperfections. The viewer is invited to look past the surface and glimpse la condition humaine.

3. Plots are more character-driven than you might find in Hollywood fare and do not necessarily follow the Hollywood formulaic structure. The audience might be challenged to seek their own closure, and might even be a bit frustrated with the outcome. A bit like life, n'est-ce pas?

4. Art direction. The mise en scene. In the fashions, the props, the interior designs a different aesthetic is at work. This imparts a freshness to the screen image and an immersion into the daily life of France.

5. French is cool to listen to. If you have ever spoken French, or learned French, it is a delight to hear. If you have never learned French, the subtitles and words work their magic together and by the end of a movie you might come out with a few choice expressions, or bits of vocabulaire.

6. On the topic of subtitles, it is great to listen with your eyes. Things happen in your brain. A visual delivery of language frees up some thinking processes. The eye travels around the screen, quickly takes in the text then goes back to the image. The mind adjusts quickly and picks up on all sorts of peripheral detail.

7. There is a certain je ne sais quoi, a certain panache to the style and composition of the French film. La Belle France celebrates and promotes its culture. Many of us associate France with certain products and tastes such as French bread, French perfume, French wine and French design. In admiring them we have been inspired to produce our own high-quality items and to have confidence in our own art, foods, wines, fashions, and films. On that note…

8. Successful French films are often remade into English films. How cool is it to see the original, and then later be able to go and view the not-always-successful remake? Think Leon, La Femme Nikita, Les Intouchables, La Cage aux Folles, A Bout de Souffle, Le Diner de Cons…

9. Some of the themes in these festival films are quite challenging: an astronaut mother anguishes over leaving her child, a grandmother deals with a radicalised grandson, friends struggle with their mutual attraction, a child shields her siblings from her parents' religious community. . .

10. Expand your horizons, do something different. Support culture and arts initiatives in Gisborne. If not a French film, then go to a live music gig, an exhibition or a play. Bonne chance et bon courage.

Because the French film festival has its own pricing vouchers, specials or $10 Tuesday does not apply. To avoid disappointment cinephiles are encouraged to book early.

PROXIMA: A woman tries to balance her role as a mother with her work as an astronaut as she prepares for a year-long stint on the International Space Station in the French film Proxima which will screen as part of the French Film Festival at the Odeon. Picture supplied