The YOUNG FRENCH CINEMA 2015 FILM SELECTION listed below is available to art house cinemas, film societies, the Alliance Française network and American universities. For program guidelines, please click here.

Age of Panic (La Bataille de Solférino)

DIRECTOR Justine Triet
SCREENPLAY Justine Triet
CAST Laetitia Dosch, Vincent Macaigne
FORMAT(S) DCP/BLU RAY
DETAILS 2013. France. 94 min. Color. Drama/comedy.
RIGHTS HOLDER Ecce Films

Synopsis: An impeccable mix of the personal and the political, Justine Triet’s first film unfolds on the hectic day of May 6, 2012, when Socialist presidential candidate François Hollande ultimately defeated the right-wing incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy. Covering the elections is news correspondent Laetitia (Laetitia Dosch), first seen trying to allay her two young daughters in their chaotic, toy-strewn apartment. Before reporting to work, the harried TV reporter instructs the babysitter not to let Vincent (Vincent Macaigne), her unstable ex-partner and the children’s father, into their home under any circumstances. Obstinate Vincent, however, will not be dissuaded from seeing his kids; soon he is angrily confronting Laetitia at her base on the mobbed Rue de Solférino, the Left Bank street that’s home to French Socialist Party headquarters. Infused with real-life urgency—several scenes take place among actual election-day crowds— Age of Panic brilliantly captures a nation in flux, France’s larger upheavals mirrored in the acrimonious squabbles and tentative resolutions forged by its central former couple.

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Apaches (Les Apaches)

DIRECTOR Thierry de Peretti
SCREENPLAY Thierry de Peretti, Benjamin Baroche
CAST François-Joseph Cullioli, Aziz El Hadachi, Hamza Meziani, Joseph-Marie Ebrard, Maryne Cayon
FORMAT(S) DCP/DVD
DETAILS 2013. France. 82 min. Color. Drama.
RIGHTS HOLDER Pyramide International

Synopsis: Actor-turned-director Thierry de Peretti’s debut feature is an uncommonly intelligent and subtle look at class tensions and racism. Set on the French island of Corsica, Les Apaches—the title nods to the term the police use for juvenile delinquents—follows Aziz (Aziz El Hadachi) and his friends, a group of Moroccan and other Arab teens who live on the margins of an exclusive resort town. The plot is set in motion when this group of young outsiders decide to throw a party at one of the unoccupied luxe villas where Aziz’s father works as a caretaker. During the revelry, some of Aziz’s pals steal DVDs and other miscellaneous items from the house, all of which the young man returns to the owners. But Aziz is unaware that among the pilfered goods is an expensive hunting rifle, an antique that will be put to deadly use. Maintaining a coolly observant tone throughout the film, Peretti saves his most scorching critique of economic imbalance for the unforgettable final scene.

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Domestic Life (La vie domestique)

DIRECTOR Isabelle Czajka
SCREENPLAY Isabelle Czajka
CAST Emmanuelle Devos, Julie Ferrier, Natacha Régnier
FORMAT(S) DCP/DVD
DETAILS 2013. France. 94 min. Color. Drama/comedy.
RIGHTS HOLDER Films Distribution

Synopsis: Based on British writer Rachel Cusk’s 2006 novel, Arlington Park, Isabelle Czajka’s third feature is a piercing—but never didactic—examination of insidious sexism and upper-middle-class complacency. The film opens with married couple Juliette (Emmanuelle Devos) and Thomas (Laurent Poitrenaux), who’ve recently moved to a wealthy suburb outside Paris, at a dinner party where the host, a pompous businessman, freely airs his retrograde views about women and work. Though Thomas holds more advanced ideas about gender equality, Juliette still finds herself frustrated by the fact that her career aspirations are secondary to her husband’s professional responsibilities and that she must assume almost all the responsibility for caring for their two young children. While dropping off her kids at school one morning, Juliette bumps into an old classmate, Betty (Julie Ferrier), who leads a more traditional life as a stay-at-home mom. Expanding its focus to the habits of other married couples, Domestic Life lays bare the difficulty of ever achieving full parity in a partnership.

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Grand Central (Grand Central)

DIRECTOR Rebecca Zlotowski
SCREENPLAY Gaëlle Macé Rebecca Zlotowski
CAST Tahar Rahim, Léa Seydoux, Olivier Gourmet
FORMAT(S) DCP
DETAILS 2013. France/ Austria. 94 min. Color. Drama/romance.
RIGHTS HOLDER Elle Driver

Synopsis: Radioactive energy is treated both literally and metaphorically in Rebecca Zlotowksi’s thoroughly absorbing, impeccably acted second film. Set in and around a nuclear-power plant, Grand Central tracks Gary (Tahar Rahim), an unskilled laborer who arrives at the facility hoping for some decent money. Assigned a maintenance job, Gary, like all of his lower-level coworkers at the plant, puts himself at tremendous risk every day—hazards underscored by the details captured during the scenes devoted to the daily procedures at the site. Gary may be putting himself at even more risk, however, when he and Karole (Léa Seydoux), the fiancée of one of his workmates, fall madly in love. As Gary and Karole, nearly aflame with desire, sneak off for trysts in the lush nearby countryside, the cooling towers of the plant loom ominously in the background. Disaster, whether physical or emotional, may be imminent, but Zlotowski handles the fallout with considerable intelligence.

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Longwave (Les Grandes Ondes (à l’ouest))

DIRECTOR Lionel Baier
SCREENPLAY Julien Bouissoux, Lionel Baier
CAST Valérie Donzelli, Michel Vuillermoz, Patrick Lapp
FORMAT(S) DCP/BLU RAY/DVD
DETAILS 2013. France/Switzerland/ Portugal. 85 min. Color. Drama/comedy.
RIGHTS HOLDER Films Boutique

Synopsis: The year is 1974: a time of uprisings, heroic reporters, and…dance numbers. Lionel Baier’s delightful romp follows three mismatched Swiss Radio employees—feminist firebrand Julie (Valérie Donzelli), veteran war correspondent Cauvin (Michel Vuillermoz), and expert sound technician Bob (Patrick Lapp)—who’ve been assigned to do a story on their country’s investments in Portugal. But just as the trio is about to head back with little to show for their efforts, the Carnation Revolution—which ultimately ended Portugal’s dictatorship—commences. Once they arrive in Lisbon, Julie, Cauvin, and Bob—and their recently acquired translator, the deeply cinephilic Pele (Francisco Belard)—are immediately caught up in the spirit of rebellion, joining the demonstrators on the street and, in the process, getting the greatest scoop of their careers. Baier, the director of several previous features and documentaries, infuses Longwave with an infectious screwball energy, one that honors an unforgettable era of liberation.

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Macaroni and Cheese (Les Coquillettes)

DIRECTOR Sophie Letourneur
SCREENPLAY Sophie Letourneur
CAST Carole Le Page, Camille Genaud
Sophie Letourneur
FORMAT(S) DCP/BLU RAY
DETAILS 2012. France. 75 min. Color. Comedy.
RIGHTS HOLDER Ecce Films

Synopsis: Writer-director-actress Sophie Letourneur has frequently been called France’s equivalent to Lena Dunham—an assessment borne out by her mordantly hilarious second film, which often blurs the distinction between fiction and real life. Letourneur stars as filmmaker Sophie, who, as the movie opens, is reminiscing in her Paris apartment with her BFFs Carole (Carole Le Page) and Camille (Camille Genaud) about their recent adventures at the Locarno Film Festival in Switzerland. (Most of Les coquillettes was shot, occasionally guerilla-style, at the actual festival in 2011.) Flashing back to each woman’s exploits, romantic and otherwise, at the Swiss event, Les Coquillettes offers a witty look not just at the circus-like atmosphere of film festivals but also at the utter solipsism of its principal trio. Letourneur, though, makes clear who the biggest target of her parody is, playing a thirty-something director who’s so self-absorbed that she must steer all conversations back to herself.

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Miss and the Doctors (Tirez la langue, mademoiselle)

DIRECTOR Axelle Ropert
SCREENPLAY Axelle Ropert
CAST Louise Bourgoin, Cédric Kahn, Laurent Stocker
FORMAT(S) DCP/DVD
DETAILS 2013. France. 102 min. Color. Drama/comedy.
RIGHTS HOLDER Pyramide International

Synopsis: As in her first feature, The Wolberg Family (2009), which astutely explores the thorny struggle of how to carve out an identity wholly separate from one’s kin, Axelle Ropert’s follow-up project also addresses blood ties. Set in Paris’s thirteenth arrondissement, the home of the capital city’s rarely filmed Chinatown, Miss and the Doctors concerns two pediatrician brothers, Boris (Cédric Kahn) and Dimitri (Laurent Stoker). So close that they live in the same apartment complex and write prescriptions at desks positioned side by side, the siblings find their bonds tested when they both fall in love with the same woman, Judith (Louise Bourgoin), the single mother of one of their charges, a diabetic preteen girl. Yet this deceptively small project about a love triangle slowly reveals itself to be nothing less than an expansive, deeply compassionate look at universal dyads: physicians and patients, parents and children, immigrants and the native-born, the beloved and the loveless.

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The Rendez-Vous of Déjà Vu (La Fille du 14 juillet)

DIRECTOR Antonin Peretjatko
SCREENPLAY Antonin Peretjatko
CAST Vimala Pons, Vincent Macaigne, Grégoire Tashnakian, Marie-Lorna Vasonsin
FORMAT(S) DCP/BLU RAY
DETAILS 2013. France. 88 min. Color. Drama/comedy.
RIGHTS HOLDER Ecce Films

Synopsis: Although Antonin Peretjatko’s marvelously madcap debut feature recalls the anything-goes energy of the Nouvelle Vague at its height, The Rendez-Vous of Déjà Vu is unmistakably a film about present-day France. Fittingly enough for a movie whose original title translates as “The Girl of July 14th,” Rendez-Vous begins at an actual Bastille Day parade, where acrobat Truquette (Vimala Pons) interrupts the proceedings to sell a left-wing magazine and French Revolution knickknacks. Soon she and a group of friends, including her new sweetheart, Hector (Grégoire Tashnakian), a guard at the Louvre, escape Paris for a beach holiday. But after a mandate curtailing vacations—part of a desperate attempt to bolster the nation’s economy—goes into effect, the group splits up, setting off several hilarious chase scenes, flashbacks, and even magic tricks. The film’s freewheeling, anarchic spirit is smartly tethered to real-world events, whether references to France’s history of bloody insurrections or to its current, seemingly intractable financial woes.

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School of Babel (La Cour de Babel)

DIRECTOR Julie Bertuccelli
SCREENPLAY Julie Bertuccelli
FORMAT(S) DCP/BLU RAY/DVD
DETAILS 2013. France. 89 min. Color. Documentary.
RIGHTS HOLDER Pyramide International

Synopsis: Julie Bertuccelli’s profoundly moving documentary observes a group of immigrant students, ranging in age from 11 to 15, in a class at a secondary school in Paris designed to help them with their grasp of French. The pupils and their families have arrived at the French capital from all over the world: China, Ireland, Senegal, Morocco, Venezuela, Ukraine, to name just a few countries. Some are political refugees, others are escaping economic hardship, while others are simply hoping to start anew. Limiting her filming almost exclusively to the classroom, Bertuccelli (here helming her fourth feature-length work and second nonfiction project) captures an extraordinary range of interactions—not just among the students and their unflappable teacher but also among the pupils and their parents during in-school conferences. Compassionate but never maudlin, School of Babel shines a light on the newest arrivals to an exceptionally diverse city, paying close attention to the formidable challenges they face.

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Sheep (Mouton)

DIRECTOR Marianne Pistone, Gilles Deroo
SCREENPLAY Marianne Pistone, Gilles Deroo
CAST David Merabet, Audrey Clément, Cindy Dumont
FORMAT(S) DCP/BLU RAY/DVD
DETAILS 2013. France. 100 min. Color. Drama.
RIGHTS HOLDER Boule de Suif Production

Synopsis: This intelligently observed first feature by Gilles Deroo and Marianne Piston plunges us into the seaside resort town of Courseulles-sur-Mer, on the northern coast of France, during the off-season months. It is there that 17-year-old Aurélien (David Merabet)—nicknamed “Sheep”—works as a prep cook at a hotel restaurant, easily assuming his place among the hard-working, collegial staff. The first half of the film follows this bashful young man, who, in the opening scene, has just been granted legal independence from his alcoholic mother, on the job and at play. Mouton’s daily activities are presented almost like a documentary—until a violent act at the movie’s halfway mark removes him from the action altogether, focusing instead on those who have orbited his life. Using a cast of nonprofessional actors, Deroo and Piston reveal a distinct gift for capturing the rhythms and rituals of small-town existence.

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Tonnerre (Tonnerre)

DIRECTOR Guillaume Brac
SCREENPLAY Guillaume Brac, Hélène Ruault
CAST Vincent Macaigne, Solène Rigot, Bernard Menez, Jonas Bloquet
FORMAT(S) DCP/BLU RAY/DVD
DETAILS 2013. France. 102 min. Color. Drama/comedy.
RIGHTS HOLDER Wild Bunch

Synopsis: The title of Guillaume Brac’s debut feature refers to a town, located in the French region of Burgundy, that translates as “thunder”—and indeed, several sudden, explosive incidents take place in this riveting film. Thirty-something Maxime (Vincent Macaigne), a Paris-based musician who’s enjoyed early success but is now faltering a bit, temporarily relocates to his father’s house in the provincial village, where he hopes to work on some new songs. He soon meets—and quickly falls in love with—aspiring journalist Mélodie (Solène Rigot), a young woman about ten years his junior. Completely consumed by his passionate relationship with Mélodie, Maxime begins to unravel when she unexpectedly ends their romance by text. As the film skillfully shifts from what at first seemed a quiet character study to a tension-filled thriller, Macaigne demonstrates why he is one of the most in-demand actors of his generation, giving a fascinating, complex performance as a man in the throes of madness.
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Download the complete program here:
YOUNG FRENCH CINEMA brochure (pdf)

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