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Young French Cinema

The YOUNG FRENCH CINEMA 2018 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.

Download the 2018 Young French Cinema brochure here.

Feature Films

Image: "Before Summer Ends" directed by Maryam Goormaghtigh


Director: Maryam Goormaghtigh
Screenplay: Maryam Goormaghtigh
Cast: Arash, Hossein, Ashkan
Details: 2017. France/Switzerland. 80 min. Color. Documentary/Comedy.
Rights holder: Intermezzo Films SA, 4A4 Productions

Synopsis: As light as a feather yet anchored by the melancholy weight of approaching change, Before the Summer Ends is the bittersweet chronicle of a single summer in the life of three Iranian students living in France, an utterly unique, beguiling mixture of documentary and fiction in the perennial form of a road movie. When Hossein and Ashkan learn that their friend Arash has decided to return to Iran, they convince him to take a road trip to the south of France, secretly hoping he will meet a woman and decide not to leave. But their encounter with two young women in a punk rock band does not yield the expected results and the twin realities of living in exile or returning to a repressive society begin to dawn on them. Playing themselves, the three leading men are by turns hilarious and heartbreaking, clumsy and compelling. But the greatest feat belongs to fledgling director Maryam Goormaghtigh, who made the film on a shoestring budget, with little more than her camera, a borrowed car, her three friends Arash, Hossein, and Ashkan, and a wonderfully empathetic eye for life’s quirks.


Director: Davy Chou
Screenplay: Davy Chou, Claire Maugendre
Cast: Sobon Nuon, Cheanick Nov, Madeza Chhem
Details: 2016. France/Cambodia. 103 min. Color. Drama.
Rights holder: Les Films du Losange

Synopsis: Like many boys from the Cambodian countryside, Bora leaves his native village at eighteen to find work in Phnom Penh. He gets a job in construction on Diamond Island, a downtown island being turned into a luxury residence and playground for the city’s rapidly rising one percent. Working by day and chasing girls at night, Bora runs into his long-lost older brother Solei, who is enjoying a suspiciously lavish lifestyle and introduces his brother to his world of high-end nightclubs and pie-in-the-sky dreams. Diamond Island is a stylized tour de force of sharp, telling contrasts, pitting the glorified shantytowns where the workers sleep against the glittering luxury developments where they work, the dusty construction sites against the cool, neon ambience of the Phnom Penh night. While writer-director Davy Chou’s background in documentary serves him well in recording the complex realities of a rapidly developing but deeply unequal society, his eye is that of a masterful stylist, capturing nocturnal glimmer in blues and yellows. Most importantly, he never loses sight of the story, crafting a seductive coming-of-age tale for a constantly mutating world.


Director: Marie-Castille Mention-Schaar
Screenplay: Marie-Castille Mention-Schaar, Émilie Frèche
Cast: Noémie Merlant, Naomi Amarger, Sandrine Bonnaire, Clotilde Courau, Zinedine Soualem
Details: 2016. France. 105 min. Color. Drama.
Rights holder: Gaumont

Synopsis: When 17-year-old Sonia is caught trying to leave France to join the jihad in Syria, her parents become her tormented jailers, forced by law to keep her at home, without internet or telephone. Meanwhile, Mélanie, a quiet, studious 15-year-old, makes a new friend on Facebook and begins to be drawn into radical Islam. This alarming but necessary drama thoughtfully tackles one of the most disturbing phenomena in contemporary French society: the indoctrination and radicalization of teenage girls by online predators recruiting jihadists. Writer-director Marie-Castille Mention-Schaar ably parallels the two young women’s stories—one in the process of being radicalized, the other on the slow and painful road to recovery—to make this unthinkable but increasingly common situation not only tangible but comprehensible, showing how terrorists prey on teenagers’ personal insecurities and general sense of injustice to encourage them to embrace a backward version of Islam and leave France to join ISIS in Syria. Though it reaches the emotional heights of great drama, Heaven Can Wait has the granular detail of first-rate investigative journalism: its portrait of vulnerable young women and their helpless families is unforgettable.


Director: Justine Triet
Screenplay: Justine Triet
Cast: Virginie Efira, Vincent Lacoste, Melvil Poupaud, Laurent Poitrenaux
Details: 2016. France. 98 min. Color. Comedy.
Rights holder: Indie Sales Company

Synopsis: Making good on the promise of her hilarious and unsettling debut Age of Panic, writer-director Justine Triet rose to the top of the French box office in 2016 and wowed critics with In Bed with Victoria, a devastatingly funny romantic comedy that manages to capture the tensions and uncertainties of our era while charming the viewer. Much of the film’s allure can be attributed to Virginie Efira’s star-making turn as title character Victoria, a thirtysomething lawyer juggling a successful career, two young children, a busy online dating life, and a crazy ex-husband regularly posting internet updates of his tell-all memoir about their marriage. As if life weren’t complicated enough, the overextended young woman reluctantly agrees to represent her close friend Vincent in a messy assault case and gets temporarily disbarred. Left with nothing but time on her hands, Victoria finds herself on the verge of a breakdown. By combining achingly familiar everyday problems with delightfully wacky premises like a dog serving as a witness in a criminal trial, Justine Triet has crafted a subtly feminist, constantly surprising gem that rivals the best comedies of Hollywood’s golden age.

BOUNDARIES (PAYS) – Canadian Pick

Director: Chloé Robichaud
Screenplay: Chloé Robichaud
Cast: Emily VanCamp, Macha Grenon, Nathalie Doummar.
Details: 2016. Canada. 98 min. Color. Drama.
Rights holder: Indie Sales Company

Synopsis: Set in Besco, a fictional island state off the coast of Labrador, Boundaries takes a novel and revealing look at the inner workings of international politics, following the negotiations between a high-ranking delegation from Canada and the governors of the economically struggling island to reach an agreement for a leading Canadian company to mine Besco’s iron. With her second feature film, Québécois writer-director Chloé Robichaud belies her youth with a nuanced, at times slyly humorous understanding of the ideals, frustrations, and outright machinations involved in governing. Yet Boundaries is more than an easily legible allegory for the unequal relations between overreaching superpowers and vulnerable nation states striving to enter the twenty-first century. It is also a deeply moving story of the personal cost of attempting to improve the world, told by focusing on three women at different points in their lives: Félixe, a freshly elected, twenty-five-year-old Canadian representative, Emily, a professional mediator whose home life is falling apart, and Danielle Richard, the steely president of Besco. Add in breathtaking 35 mm landscape photography, primarily shot in Newfoundland, and you have a stunningly assured film, confirming a major young talent.


Director: Léonor Seraille
Screenplay: Léonor Seraille
Cast: Laetitia Dosch, Grégoire Monsaingeon, Souleymane Seye Ndiaye, Léonie Simaga, Nathalie Richard, Erika Sainte
Details: 2017. France. 97 min. Color. Drama.
Rights holder: Be for Films

SynopsisMontparnasse Bienvenue isn’t the first French film to follow a young woman lost in the city, flirting with madness after the end of a relationship. But it may well be the most surprising—and the most honest—in its way of snapping in and out of a keenly-observed comedic tone to reveal a more unvarnished portrait of a person in genuine distress. This non-conformist gem begins with thirtysomething Paula arriving back in Paris after ten years, recently dumped by her rich and famous photographer boyfriend, and now totally adrift, alone with a suitcase and her cat. Paula has to fall back on her chameleon-like ability to adapt to circumstances, pretending to be a stranger’s old school-friend to get a place to sleep for the night or claiming to be an art student to get an au pair job. Through these random encounters and haphazard situations, a picture takes shape of a generation faced with an unprecedentedly precarious future. And yet one walks away feeling uplifted, in no small part due to Laetitia Dosch’s deliciously unhinged, fearless performance as Paula. Montparnasse Bienvenue won the Caméra d’Or at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival.


Director: Sonia Kronlund
Cast: Salim Shaheen
Details: 2016. France/Germany/Qatar. 85 min. Color. Documentary.
Rights holder: Faro/Kidam

Synopsis: Sonia Kronlund’s exhilarating documentary is a portrait of Afghan filmmaker Salim Shaheen, a local legend who has directed and starred in 110 films despite lack of money, the constant Taliban threat, and the civil wars tearing his country apart. As Shaheen puts it, his film industry is Nothingwood, for there are no resources in Afghanistan to make films. Yet as we see time and time again in documentary footage from the production of his autobiographical 111th feature, he always finds a way to sweet-talk or bully his way to getting what he needs. Nothingwood wryly blends scenes from Shaheen’s everyday life and his own super-low-budget productions, introducing us along the way to members of his entourage like a young actress who must be accompanied on set by her father; a family man who specializes in playing mature women on screen; and a battle-scarred screenwriter who doubles as cameraman and actor. While Shaheen’s story has more than its fair share of traumatic events, Nothingwood is an uplifting and sometimes uproarious portrait of a larger-than-life figure—and a true believer in cinema.


Director: Stéphane de Freitas, Ladj Ly
Cast: Leila Alaouf, Eddy Moniot, Elhadj Toure, Souleila Mahiddin, Bertrand Périer, Loubaki Loussalat, Alexandra Henry, Pierre Derycke
Details: 2017. France. 99 min. Color. Documentary.
Rights holder: Upside Distribution

Synospsis: Every year, hundreds of students from all over the department of Seine-Saint-Denis face off in Eloquentia, a contest to crown the best orator in this wildly diverse, sprawling suburb of Paris. Speak Up follows a group of college students preparing for Eloquentia through an intensive six weeks of workshops in classical rhetoric, acting, slam poetry, and breathing techniques, then into the tournament itself. Smoothly juxtaposing fly-on-the-wall scenes of the group in the classroom and the amphitheater with interviews and solo scenes with a few participants (and the future winner!), directors de Freitas and Ly create an inspiring portrait, by turns riotous, by turns poignant, of a young generation of every creed and color brought together by a shared commitment to the French art of rhetoric. The viewer will not soon forget Elhadj, a formerly homeless young man now running an NGO in West Africa, Leïla, a shy Syrian-French woman who forces herself to become an orator to “redefine feminism,” or Eddy, a fledgling actor from a tiny village who has to walk ten kilometers every day to catch a train to class.


Director: Hamé and Ekoué
Screenplay: Hamé and Ekoué
Cast: Reda Kateb, Slimane Dazi, Mélanie Laurent
Details: 2016. France. 106 min. Color. Drama.
Rights holder: Memento Films International

Synopsis: Out on parole, Nas has to toe the line and clock in to work at his older brother Arezki’s bar Le Prestige to avoid being thrown back in prison. But Nas has other plans: he wants to get back into promoting parties and Le Prestige’s location in Pigalle, the heart of Paris’s bustling nightlife, is an ideal calling card. It soon becomes apparent that the brothers are on a collision course started long ago, with the death of their mother and Arezki’s decision to leave Nas with their aunt. This gripping first feature by Hamé and Ekoué, two of the rappers in leading French rap group La Rumeur, is a Paris-by-night tour that stays a million miles away from the glimmer of the Eiffel Tower, offering instead an insider’s portrait of a vibrant, quickly gentrifying urban neighborhood, with its African hairdressers, Algerian groceries, German tourists, neon sex shops, and every street scam known to man. But beneath its kinetic surface and groovy soundtrack, one finds a profound reflection on the struggles and disappointments of two generations of Algerian immigrants in France.


Director: Karim Moussaoui
Screenplay: Karim Moussaoui, Maud Ameline
Cast: Mohamed Djourhi, Sonia Mekkiou, Mehdi Ramdani, Hania Amar
Details: 2017. France/Germany/Algeria/ Qatar. 113 min. Color. Drama.
Rights holder: MK2 Films

Synopsis: Karim Moussaoui’s brilliant debut tells three loosely related stories set in a contemporary Algeria of abandoned construction sites, desert roads, and hospitals: a middle-aged businessman witnesses a brutal beating and fails to intervene; a young woman’s father asks her former boyfriend to drive her to her wedding; a hardworking neurosurgeon is asked to adopt the son of a woman whose gang rape he witnessed during the civil war. Weaving these Chekovian tales together in a seamless three-part structure, Moussaoui reflects upon his country’s past, present, and future, sketching in the challenges faced by several generations of Algerians while evoking universal moral dilemmas and disappointment. Through his carefully controlled vision of the happenstance of everyday life, Moussaoui recalls the understated rigor of masters such as Krzysztof Kieslowski and Abbas Kiarostami, yet also allows himself exhilarating flights of fancy such as an impromptu song and dance number on the side of a desert highway. Such formally ambitious, insightful films rarely come along, let alone in the hands of a first-time director. In a single feature, Karim Moussaoui has established himself as a major new voice on the international film scene.


Director: Daouda Coulibaly
Screenplay: Daouda Coulibaly
Cast: Ibrahim Koma, Inna Modja, Quim Gutiérrez, Olivier Rabourdin
Details: 2016. France/Mali/Senegal. 95 min. Color. Drama.
Rights holder: Indie Sales Company

Synopsis: When Ladji, a twenty-year-old minibus driver in Bamako, is unfairly passed over for a promotion, the young man turns to smuggling drugs between Mali and neighboring countries to provide for himself and save his sister from prostitution. While his rise in the drug trade is as meteoric as Tony Montana’s in Scarface, Wùlu is a more thoughtful, less violent take on the Brian De Palma classic—which doesn’t make it any less gripping. This is cinema as immersion: diving deep into the bustling streets of Mali’s capital, first-time writer-director Daouda Coulibaly moves his story along at breakneck speed, rarely letting the viewer come up for air. The result is an astonishingly assured, spine-tingling thriller, as well as a sobering picture of Mali in the period leading to the 2012 coup d’état, with the once-stable nation threatened by the intertwined evils of corruption, drug trafficking, and Al-Qaeda. Yet perhaps Wùlu lingers longest in the memory as a universal tale of a young generation forced to do whatever it takes to get by and find its place in society.


Director: Océanerosemarie and Cyprien Vial
Screenplay: Océanerosemarie
Cast: Océanerosemarie, Alice Pol, Grégory Montel, Laure Calamy
Details: 2017. France. 86 min. Color. Romantic comedy.
Rights holder: WT Film

Synopsis: In this charming romantic comedy about the speed bumps along the way to accepting true love, acclaimed comedian and singer Océanerosemarie plays a fun-loving osteopath called Océanerosemarie. Fresh from yet another breakup, Océanerosemarie is jogging in the woods when she spies the beautiful Cécile doing gymnastics. All it takes is one failed headstand for Océanerosemarie to jump in and offer her healing touch. Before long, she is convinced she has met the woman of her life. But Cécile is the shy, quiet type, while Océanerosemarie is a boisterous party animal surrounded by ex-girlfriends, including Fantine, a super-successful architect who isn’t ready to let anyone new take her place… While Kiss Me! winningly navigates the tried and true formulas of the romantic comedy, it is remarkable for introducing a lesbian love story to the genre without depicting homosexuality as a problem or a novelty. Here, the trials and tribulations, joy and hilarity faced by the characters are those of any two people in love, subtly but firmly driving home the point that love is love.

Short Films

Image: "Grandpa Walrus" directed by Lucrèce Andreae


Director: Lucrèce Andreae
Screenplay: Lucrèce Andreae
Cast: Roman Garance, Emilie Bion Metzinger, Chann Aglal
Details: 2017. France.14min. Animation.
Rights holder: Caïmans Productions

Synopsis: A woman gives birth painfully and pushes the baby out with extreme violence. We put a bracelet on the baby with the letter X. As the psychologist tries to speak to her, she starts thinking of the consequences.


Director: Hu Wei
Screenplay: Gaelle Obiegly, Joel Curtz, Francois Peyroux
Cast: Camille Debray, Isabelle Huppert, Nai An
Details: 2016. France.17 min. Live Action.
Rights holder: L'Agence du court-métrage

Synopsis: After a long separation, an encounter. Two families. One child.


Director: Ladj Ly
Screenplay: Ladj Ly
Cast: Damien Bonnard, Djibril Zonga
Details: 2017. France. 15 min. Fiction
Rights holder: Salaud Morrisset

Synopsis: With a gun at his belt and a truncheon in his hand, Pento has just joined the Seine-Saint-Denis anti-crime brigade. With his teammates, he develops specific methods.


Director: Céline Devaux
Screenplay: Céline Devaux
Cast: Swann Arlaud, Victoire Du Bois
Details: 2017. France. 15 min. Fiction.
Rights holder: Sacrebleu Productions

Synopsis: Give it time. You’ll get over it. Jean celebrates his birthday, gets drunk and recalls the dreadful weekend that led to his break-up with Mathilde.


Director: Qiu Yang
Screenplay: Qiu Yang
Cast: Shuxian Li, Zhongwei Sun, Yaning Ding
Details: 2017. France, China. 15 min. Drama.
Rights holder: House on Fire/ New Europe Film Sales

Synopsis: In a nameless Chinese city, a mother with her daughter missing, refuses to go gentle into this good night


Director: Jonathan Vinel
Screenplay: Jonathan Vinel
Cast: Paul Hamy, Clémence Diard, Sarah-Megan Allouch-Mainier
Details: 2017. France.16 min. Animation.
Rights holder: AKA Productions

Synopsis: Imagine you wake up one day, all your friends have disappeared. The friends that should be there are gone. So you look. You look everywhere. Every hiding place, each inch of the city, all the marshes, all the rivers. You look, but cannot find them.


Director: Jessica Palud
Screenplay: Jessica Palud, Clémence Madeleine-Perdrillat
Cast: Flavie Delande, Anne Suarez, Jonathan Couzinié, Catherine Salée
Details: 2017. France. 19 min. Drama.
Rights holder: Punchline Cinéma/L'Agence du court-métrage

Synopsis: Fourteen-year-old Marlon visits her mother in prison for the first time since she was jailed. Protected by her family and friends, Marlon persists, despite everything, in believing that her mother is her childhood heroine.


Director: Xavier Legrand
Screenplay: Xavier Legrand
Cast: Léa Drucker, Miljan Chatelain, Denis Menochet
Details: 2012. France. 29 min. Drama.
Rights holder: KG Productions

Synopsis: While her children pretend to go to school, Miriam hurries to pick them up and take them to her work place. She explains to her boss that she has to leave the region in a rush.