Francophone Films Take Center Stage at Star-Studded Angouleme Film Festival

Isabelle Adjani, "The Story of Adele H." (1975)
Everett Collection

After a second nom (for 1989's "Camille Claudel"), the French actress' Hollywood luck soured. But Adjani, 56, has won more Cesar Awards than anyone, and Abel Ferrara wants her for his Dominique Strauss-Kahn-inspired rape-case film.

"The Intouchables" directing duo Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano are among the talents slated to attend first festival devoted entirely to Francophone cinema that will screen 44 films through Tuesday.

French stars left their long summer vacations to head southwest to fete French-language cinema for the fifth annual Angouleme Francophone Film Festival that kicked off on Friday.

Actresses Isabelle Adjani, Nathalie Baye and her daughter Laura Smet plus directors Anne Fontaine and The Intouchables directing duo Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano are among the talents slated to attend first festival devoted entirely to Francophone cinema that will screen 44 films through Tuesday.

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Nicknamed “the balcony of the southwest,” Angouleme is a popular vacation spot and the fest typically attracts France’s top talents thanks to its scenic surroundings and its founder, top French agent turned producer Dominique Besnehard who always invites his celebrity friends for the end of summer event.

The fest was created in 2008 by Besnehard with Marie-France Briere and Patrick Mardikian.

This year’s competition will include 10 French-language films including  Alice Winocour’s Cannes title Augustine, Rachid Djaidani’s documentary Rengain, Francois Pirot’s Belgian dramatic comedy Mobile Home, actor turned director Patrick Mille’s Mauvaise Fille, plus titles from Senegal, Algeria, Switzerland, Luxembourg and Canada.

Geraldine Nakache and Herve Mimran’s Nous York will premiere at the festival ahead of its Nov. 7th release in France. Nakache and Mimran are the duo behind breakout hit All That Glitters and Nakache’s brother Olivier co-directed current US release and global box office sensation The Intouchables.

Other premieres include Eric Besnard’s Mes Heros starring Gerard Jugnot and Josiane Balasko, Marc Fitoussi’s Pauline Detective and Alexandre Astier’s David and Mme Hansen starring Adjani. The fest will open with Frederick Forestier’s comedy Stars 80 from The Artist producer Thomas Langmann and close with Sandrine Bonnaire’s Maddened by his Absence starring William Hurt and Alexandra Lamy that premiered at May’s Cannes Film Festival. 

French actor Denis Podalydes, who played Nicolas Sarkozy in last year’s Cannes title The Conquest, will preside over the jury alongside actresses Marthe Keller, Marie-Josee Croze, Audrey Dana, Natacha Regnier, Desiree Nosbusch, director Raja Amari, ELLE and Premiere magazine Editor, writer and TV personality Florence Ben Sadoun and Miss France turned TV personality Sonia Rolland.

Talents from the different films including  Richard Anconina, Patrick Timsit, Alexandre Astier, Leïla Bekhti, Manu Payet, Baptiste Lecaplain, François-Xavier Demaison, Mélanie Thierry, Pierre Niney, Patrice Leconte, Jugnot, Balasko, Clovis Cornillac, Catherine Frot, Arthur Dupond, Hyppolite Girardot, Raphaël Personnaz, Clothilde Hesme, Sandrine Kiberlain, Michel Delpech and Bonnaire are all expected to make appearances at the star-studded event.

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Other fest highlights include master classes from  Fontaine, Nakache and Toledano, a screening of Charles Berling’s “In the Footsteps of Gustave Eiffel” about the famed engineer and architect, an homage to Romy Schneider at an exposition from Jean-Pierre Lavoignat at the Espace Franquin and “New York Mon Amour: A View of French Cinema,” an exhibition from Catherine Verret-Vimont, former director of Unifrance USA and outdoor screenings.

Podalydes and his jury will present their top prizes called “les Valois” at a closing ceremony hosted by Patrick Fabre complete with an homage to music in film from Chimene Badi who will perform with a gospel ensemble.The Angouleme Francophone Film Festival runs Aug. 24 – 28.