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Young French Cinema

The YOUNG FRENCH CINEMA 2019 FILM SELECTION listed below is available to art house cinemas, film societies, the Alliance Française network and American universities.

Download the 2019 Young French Cinema brochure here.

Feature Films

Image: "Cassandro, the Exotico!" directed by Marie Losier


Director: Clément Cogitore
Screenplay: N/A
Cast: N/A
Details: 2017. France/Finland. 49 min. Documentary.
Rights holder: Indie Sales

Synopsis: Following his prize-winning debut feature Neither Heaven nor Earth, acclaimed visual artist and filmmaker Clément Cogitore travels deep into the taiga of Eastern Siberia to document the feud between two families living on opposite banks of a river hundreds of miles from civilization. Braguino focuses on the members of the Braguine family, who first settled this stunningly beautiful remote region, while those of the Kitine family across the river appear only as gures in the distance, lending the film an enigmatic, eerie quality that transcends its subject matter. Indeed, Braguino is far more than a record of the trouble between neighbors, but a deeply lyrical elegy to an imperiled way of life celebrated here through long, majestic shots of men, women, and children at work and at play on the misty river and in the autumnal woods. While the outside world encroaches upon this land out of time in the specific form of heavily armed men who helicopter in from the city to hunt for sport, Cogitore’s poetic idiom suggests the environmental threat at issue extends far beyond this isolated situation. Braguino is presented with Cogitore’s short film Les Indes galantes.

Clément Cogitores film The Amorous Indies (Les Indes Galantes) is also availble in the short film selection this year.


Director: Marie Losier
Screenplay: Marie Losier, Antoine Barraud
Cast: Cassandro (Saúl Armendáriz)
Details: 2018. France. 73 min. Documentary Feature.
Rights holder: Urban Distribution International

Synopsis: One-woman film crew Marie Losier returns with her Bolex and her inimitably imaginative style to present this tremendously moving portrait of Sául Armendáriz, better known as Cassandro, the openly gay Mexican wrestling champion who has been legendary in rings around the world since the early 90s. Yet the viewer soon discovers that the battles in Cassandro’s life have extended far beyond the ring, notably to his struggle with substance abuse. But while Cassandro, the Exotico! is primarily a tribute to an unstoppable original who has stared down all of life’s challenges, it is also an affecting picture of the friendship between the filmmaker and her subject, a bond most clearly evidenced in the vulnerability Cassandro displays in confiding on camera. Losier rewards that trust with her marvelous depictions of Cassandro’s inner world, artfully created scenes that take Cassandro out of the everyday and into a dreamlike, mystical landscape that defies interpretation but speaks directly to the senses. This blend of emotional truth and flight of fancy is what makes Marie Losier a unique and essential bridge between the avant-garde and documentary film.


Director: Antony Cordier
Screenplay: Antony Cordier
Cast: Félix Moati, Laetitia Dosch, Guillaume Gouix
Details: 2017. France. 105 min. Comedy Drama.
Rights holder: Pyramide International

Synopsis: Shortly after their chance meeting, Gaspard asks Laura if she will accompany him to his family home and pose as his girlfriend at his father’s second wedding. At this point, viewers will probably assume they’re dealing with a familiar and delightful trope of romantic comedy: the fake couple will become a real one, and everyone will live happily ever after. And while that isn’t altogether false, Antony Cordier’s Gaspard at the Wedding is a far more surprising entertainment than one might expect, both sophisticated and eccentric. For one thing, the family home in question is a working zoo, complete with tigers, monkeys, and two-headed caribous, and the family doesn’t always know how to draw the line between animal instinct and human behavior. A case in point is Coline, Gaspard’s sister, a beautiful young woman who walks around wearing a bear skin because she believes she is part bear. She is also in love with her brother. Cordier manages not only to make these wacky situations believable, but to give them real emotional depth, delivering an unexpectedly poignant romance.


Director: Philippe Lesage
Screenplay: Philippe Lesage
Cast: Noée Abita, Théodore Pellerin, Jules Roy-Sicotte
Details: 2018. Canada. 130 min. Drama.
Rights holder: Be For Films

Synopsis: With this poignant contribution to the classic coming-of-age genre, French-Canadian director Philippe Lesage perfectly captures the tightrope walk of teenagers discovering love and navigating the rapids between hope and disappointment, exhilaration and shame. The film initially follows two storylines, focused on siblings Guillaume and Charlotte as they explore their romantic and sexual needs: Guillaume finds himself falling in love with his best friend Nicolas, while Charlotte breaks up with her clueless boyfriend and falls in with an older, dangerously appealing guy. While Guillaume’s subsequent ostracism and Charlotte’s abuse at the hands of an unscrupulous man are described with a richness of specific details, their pain is universally relatable. Then with a surprise third act, Lesage moves back in time to tell the story of a summer camp flirtation between young Felix and Beatrice, creating a wistful picture of the innocence preceding Guillaume and Charlotte’s disenchantment. While Genesis’s greatest strength lies in its vulnerable lead performances and emotional honesty, Lesage is also a top-rate stylist whose saturated colors evoke the warm palette of home movies, adding a layer of exquisitely painful nostalgia to this bittersweet teenage symphony.


Director: Rachid Hami
Screenplay: Guy Laurent, Valérie Zenatti & Rachid Hami
Cast: Kad Merad, Samir Guesmi, Renaly Alfred
Details: 2016. France. Dramedy.
Rights holder: Gaumont

Synopsis: When violinist Simon Daoud is hired to teach the violin to a class of unruly junior high school students in an immigrant suburb of Paris, his first instinct is to run back to his rarefied world of classical string quartets. His mission to teach these twelve loudmouths to perform the violin parts in Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade at the Paris Philharmonic at the end of the school year seems beyond impossible. Yet as he gets to know the kids and their families, Simon’s priorities shift and he determines to do everything in his power to get them to the Philharmonic. While the movie clock is kept ticking by this exciting objective, the film’s heartwarming core is in its portrayal of the diverse group of kids brought together in the orchestra class. Writer- director Rachid Hami combines a documentary sensibility with a knack for bringing out his young actors’ comedic air and dramatic intensity. In this regard, Orchestra Class’s major discovery is Alfred Renely, the fifteen-year-old actor who shines as Arnold, a quiet boy who discovers he is a natural by taking his violin up to the roof of his housing project every night to practice.


Director: Saïd Hamich
Screenplay: Saïd Hamich
Cast: Anas El Baz, Kate Colebrook, Saïd Benchnafa
Details: 2017. France. 67 min. Drama.
Rights holder: Pyramide International

Synopsis: Saïd Hamich’s taut semi-autobiographical drama avoids all the clichés of the “banlieue- film,” that highly uneven subgenre of films set in French housing projects, generally populated by people of North African descent and too often devoted to the spectacle of cops chasing dealers, to provide an insightful, at times painful look at the challenges and contradictions experienced by the children of North African immigrants to France. Return to Bollène features the carefully nuanced, resonant story of Nassim, a French-Moroccan businessman based in Abu Dabi who returns to the South of France and his hometown of Bollène to attend his sister’s engagement ceremony and introduce his American fiancée to his family. Through a series of encounters with family members and old acquaintances, a subtle picture emerges of a brilliant young man in flight from his traditional family and the dead-end town where he was raised. While it is powerfully astute and balanced in its assessment of the situation in France—notably on the rise of the extreme right—Return to Bollène achieves a universal quality in its depiction of alienation born of exclusion and shame.


Director: Meryem Benm’Barek
Screenplay: Meryem Benm’Barek
Cast: Maha Alemi, Lubna Azabal, Sarah Perles
Details: 2018. France, Qatar. 80 min. Drama.
Rights holder: Be For Films

Synopsis: When twenty-year-old Sofia buckles over in pain during a family gathering, her cousin Lena whisks her off to a hospital, telling her traditional family she is taking her to the pharmacy to seek relief from a stomach ache. In fact, Sofia has gone into labor without knowing she was pregnant. From here, writer-director Meryem Benm’Barek embarks the viewer on a nightmarish journey that is all-too-real in the repressive context of Morocco, where pre-marital sex is a criminal offense: Lena must implore a doctor to allow her unmarried cousin to deliver at his facility, where Sofia is dismissed immediately after the birth and enjoined to come back with the father or face prosecution. Holding her newborn daughter, Sofia leads her cousin to one of Casablanca’s slums, in search of the father she barely knows. The ensuing familial and legal crisis provides a damning portrait of a society where antiquated values vie with a pervasive cynicism. Yet Benm’Barek’s confidence as a storyteller, particularly in delivering a stunning third-act twist, lifts Sofia above the level of social protest to reveal a profoundly complex, endlessly fascinating reality.


Director: Anne Alix
Screenplay: Anne Alix and Alexis Galmot
Cast: Lola Dueñas, Bojena Horackova
Details: 2018. France. 101 min. Fiction.
Rights holder: Shellac Sud

Synopsis: Something is Happening begins like an uplifting, charmingly quirky
road movie: having lost her husband and job, Irma jumps into a river in Avignon, only to be rescued by Dolores, a free-spirited Spaniard roaming the south of France to research a gay-friendly travel guide. Irma and Dolores strike up a friendship and head off in Dolores’s convertible. While most filmmakers would be satisfied to stick with the ensuing subtle character study of women in middle age, served by vulnerable performances by actresses Bojena Horackova and Lola Dueñas, Anne Alix’s project is both more original and more profound. As they wander glorious backroad landscapes, Irma and Dolores serve as our fictional guides into a little-seen France of factory workers, hunters, and fishermen, all of whom are played by non-actors participating in the film in their own roles. Gradually, the fictional canvas loosens, the focus shifts to the population of the sun-drenched hinterland, and it is revealed that the “something happening” is the massive influx of migrants on Mediterranean shores. The film takes on a haunting urgency as it develops into one of the most exhilarating examples of the growing genre of documentary- fiction hybrids.


Director: Samuel Jouy
Screenplay: Samuel Jouy with participation with Clément Roussier and Jérémie Guez
Cast: Mathieu Kassovitz, Olivia Merilahti, Souleymane M'Bay
Details: 2017. France. 94 min. Drama.
Rights holder: Europacorp

Synopsis: Steve Landry is a journeyman boxer whose greatest quality is his persistence: in a career of 49 bouts, he has lost 33, yet he keeps climbing into the ring. But as opportunities to fight grow slimmer and the bills pile up, middle-aged Steve takes a well-paid job as a sparring partner for a young European boxing champion training for his comeback match. While Steve’s wife is horrified that he has agreed to serve as a punching bag for one of the fiercest boxers in the game, Steve sticks to his guns, driven by the dream of buying his daughter the piano she wants and maybe, just maybe getting to fight his 50th and last boxing match. Samuel Jouy’s first feature is a bracing, original take on the mythology of boxing on film, focused not so much on the win-lose drama in the ring but the psychological and emotional lives of those around it, from the boxer who never wins to the wife and children who love him regardless. Mathieu Kassovitz’s transformative performance as a resilient everyman gives this beautifully understated tribute to the underdog a universal reach.


Director: Amandine Gay
Screenplay: N/A
Cast: Ornella aka Loulou, Po B.K. Lomami, Rachel Khan
Details: 2017. France. 122 min. Documentary.
Rights holder: mk2 Films

Synopsis: Weaving together interviews with 24 black women living in France, filmmaker, activist, and self-described Afro-feminist Amandine Gay provides an essential look at the challenges facing women of African descent living in what remains a systematically unequal society. The film is divided into short, pithily-titled chapters in which these eloquent citizens, artists, researchers, engineers, and bloggers “speak out” about issues including racist stereotypes, sectarianism, fetishization of black women, discrimination in the school system, religious freedom, and challenges facing LGBTQ members of Afro-descendant communities. Speak Out is particularly remarkable for its deft combination of anecdotal material—viewers will not soon recover from the heartbreaking opening sequence in which a succession of women describe their first childhood encounters with racism—and thought-provoking, sometimes surprising systemic critique. While certain issues such as the debate around the right to wear hijabs and the recent removal of the word “race” from the French constitution are specific to the French context, Speak Out powerfully articulates certain experiences shared by Afro-Americans. More unexpectedly, it reveals that successful aspects of American diversity serve as beacons of hope elsewhere in the world.


Director: Michaël Dacheux
Screenplay: Michaël Dacheux
Cast: Paul Delbreil, Adèle Csech, Samuel Fasse
Details: 2018. France. 83 min. Fiction.
Rights holder: Perspective Films

Synopsis: With this sensitive debut feature, Michaël Dacheux puts a fresh spin on the stylistic and thematic tropes of the French New Wave and its immediate descendants, filming the lives and loves of young people on the streets of Paris much like his predecessors did, but updating his approach to include queer desire. The story begins when 25-year-old Martin arrives from the provinces to try to reunite with his first love Léa in Paris. Léa tells him she is not prepared to get back together and the two go their separate ways, facing the difficulties of realizing their dreams in the big city. In following this classic Balzac theme of provincials in the capital, Dracheux takes an affectionate, delicate view of their respective trajectories, showing Léa blossom as an artist and Martin falling in love with a man. While the film acknowledges filmmaker Jean Eustache as its patron saint with a visit to his Paris street and the warm, witty presence of his actress Françoise Lebrun playing herself, the influence of the great Eric Rohmer is felt in the narrative’s four-season structure and its off-the-beaten-path view of contemporary Paris.


Director: Judith Davis
Screenplay: Judith Davis
Cast: Judith Davis, Malik Zidi, Claire Dumas
Details: 2018. France. 88 min. Comedy.
Rights holder: Doc & Film International

Synopsis: In this hilarious, whip-smart comedy, first-time director Judith Davis examines the frustrations of a generation that came of age after the fall of the Berlin Wall, hearing that the world was better before, yet that there are no more alternatives. Davis stars as Angèle, a young urban planner in Paris who loses her job and moves back in with her diehard communist father. Angèle is an idealist: she refuses to give up the dream of revolution that her parents nearly realized in the protests of May 1968. But her activism comes at a high cost to her personal relationships: she has never forgiven her mother for giving up her political struggle, criticizes her sister for her bourgeois lifestyle, and has difficulty accepting her feelings for her suitor Simon, fearing they might be a distraction from the work of changing the world. In presenting contemporary France through the eyes of this angry young woman, Davis deftly satirizes the culture of capitalism and bureaucracy. While the resulting picture of a society short on hope and rich in disappointment is chilling, Angèle’s uproarious, heartwarming trajectory suggests there are possibilities to be found in less dogmatic approaches.


Short Films

Image: "Apocalypse After" directed by Bertrand Mandico


Director: Clément Cogitore
Screenplay: Clément Cogitore
Cast: N/A
Details: 2017. France. 5'26 min. Experimental.
Rights holder: Agence du court-métrage

Synopsis: Krumping is a dance born in the Los Angeles ghettos after the riots of 1995. Through this performance filmed on the Opéra Bastille stage, Clément Cogitore creates a battle between urban culture and Rameau’s music.


Director: Bertrand Mandico

 Bertrand Mandico
Cast: Vimala Pons, Elina Löwensohn, Lola Creton

2018. France. 38 min. Fantasy.
Rights holder: Ecce Films

Synopsis: An abandoned seaside resort. The shooting for a fantasy film about the end of an era wraps up. Two women, both members of the film crew, one an actrice, the other a director, are on the verge of concluding their love affair.


Director: Fanny Liatard, Jérémy Trouilh
Screenplay: Fanny Liatard, Jérémy Trouilh
Cast: Michel Pichon, Rod Paradot, Mariam Baradji
Details: 2018. France. 17 min. Fiction.
Rights holder: Agence du court-métrage

Synopsis: Emile fears the outside world. He stays at home and paints everything in blue. One evening, his son Yoan meets Soraya, a young girl, fond of Tamil dance. She will help him find the right colour.


Director: Boris Labbé

Screenplay: Boris Labbé

Armelle Mercat, Hugo Bravo, Capucine Latrasse
2018. France. 2:22:00 PM. Court-métrage d’animation / fiction.
Rights holder: Sacrebleu Productions

Synopsis: As celestial beings descend to Earth vitiating its population, the world’s order unbalances. Initiated by these terms, a tragic fall leads to the parturition of crucial opposites: Hell and Heaven’s circles.


Pablo Muñoz Gomez
Pablo Muñoz Gomez, Sarah Schenkel, Xavier Seron
Georges Siatidis, Nikolaos Sachas, Wim Willaert
Details: 2017. France, Belgium. 14 min. Comedy.

Rights holder: Origine Films

Synopsis: “Santa is capitalist. He brings toys to the rich kids and sweat shirts to the poor ones.” –Nikos, 5 years old


Director: Charline Bourgeois-Tacquet

Charline Bourgeois-Tacquet
Cast: Sigrid Bouaziz, Anaïs Demoustier

2018. France. 24 min. Comedy.
Rights holder: SHORTCUTS

Synopsis: Pauline has no news from Bruce, the married man whom she has an affair with. During her break in the countryside with her friend Violette, she will spend the whole stay waiting for a text message. Experimenting thousand stages of obsessive love.


Director: Camille Lugan

Camille Lugan
Harold Torres, Angelina Woreth, Julien Drion
2018. France. 22 min. Fiction.
Rights holder: Agence du court-métrage

Synopsis: A ski resort, somewhere in the French Pyrenees. Ivan only lives for his motorcycle—the sentient, loving, breathing La Persistente. When a local rival tears her away from him, Ivan’s obsession becomes to win her back.


Emmanuel Poulain-Arnaud
Emmanuel Poulain-Arnaud
Joséphine Draï, Adrianna Gradziel
2017. France. 18 min. Fiction.
Rights holder: Fluxus Films

Synopsis: A real estate agent, a single mom on the verge of a breakdown, is showing her best villa to a Russian client who works for billionaires. Both must absolutely conclude a deal, even if they don’t speak the same language and find a real corpse in the closet.