Posts Tagged ‘French Film Festival 2011’

(Article written by my darling daughter Sarah)

“Love is all around” , Wet Wet Wet first belted out in 1994, and yes, in fact, it is. Whether it dwells in families, friends, places, romances, partners, or pets, the Scottish pop band have a point. Love is all around: people sing about it, paint about it, write about it, sculpt about it, and make movies about it.  Even as a child, I understood that Love in whatever form is the most powerful force and human emotion that exists, even though I had obviously never experienced it in its romantic form. Love defines the way we live our lives; the way we laugh, cry, fear, smile, hope, and dream. It can bring us together, or tear us apart. It can be the most reliable force, or the most volatile one. Love is truly the Zeus-like figure in the Realms of Human Emotions; altering the way we live our life, and sculpting the paths we follow.

Valentine's Day in Paris?

Like every important event in life (the birth or death of Jesus, Buddha and Mohammed there is usually a day to commemorate it. Well, what a splendid idea then to commemorate this wonderful thing called Love! Thank you, Saint Valentine. However, as mysterious as love is itself, we know very little about the real Saint Valentine. Interesting. We only know that 14 saints called Valentine were martyred in Ancient Rome, and their personal attributes were often roses, birds, or a bishop with a crippled or epileptic child at his feet. (Sorry, just had to chuck that one in there!) The February 14 celebration of love and affection, which we today know as Valentine’s Day, was in fact created in 500AD by Pope Gelasius (sounds a bit like an icecream to me: “I’ll have a wildberry gelasius in a waffle cone please.”) It was removed off the Roman Calendar of Saints in 1969 by Pope Paul VI, but today has remained a popular mass-produced-greeting-card-way to say “I love you”. I sound pessimistic, but for a very long time I had every reason to be….

For the first two decades of my life, Valentine’s Day was the second-most dreaded day of the calendar year. The first: cross-country. (Obviously.) Bouquets of flowers, chocolates, stuffed teddy bears, rose petals, Hershey’s Kisses, real kisses: you name it, I didn’t get it. For me the highlight of Valentine’s Day was sitting in front of the television with my single friends watching re-runs of Friends or The Notebook, eating calorific feasts of popcorn, Cadbury Caramello chocolate, and downing copious amounts of Pinot Noir to drown our sorrows. (Just to clarify, I’m talking about my late teenage years here not my primary school ones for all those who may have been confused and sliiightly concerned…) Although there were glimmers of hope along the way, I was always alone on Valentine’s Day. And yet, I never ever lost my belief in the thing we call Love. Because, as the old men on the NZ Mainland Cheese ad say, “Good things take time, but they are well worth waiting for.”

It wasn’t until I met my Special Someone In Particular where this wise theory kicked into action. Funnily enough, our first date (or ‘courting session’ as my grandmother might prefer to call it) was in Paris, the City of Love. On Valentine’s Day. Swoon. I got whisked off my feet to a glamorous and decadent Indian restaurant on the Left Bank (a mere three days after recovering from a violent vomiting bug) where I would be wined and dined in pure Parisian style. Despite the stomach cramps radiating to my kneecaps, a flame inside my heart burned brightly and I realized what this wait had been all about.

Excitedly I waited until the next morning before emailing one of my bestest buddies (/relationship counselor) back home in New Zealand. I believe the subject line of the email read something like, “Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God, my BOYFRIEND is so COOL and LOVELY.” I will never forget the response I got back that evening:


Ah, wuv.

In Paris. The city of wuv.

He does sound dreamy. (Sigh)

Could a more perfect potential-future-life-partner exist? Well, probably not short of Mr. Darcy. Or Clive Owen. Or Clive Owen playing Mr. Darcy.

The only real problem I have with all this is that I can see no possible way of us double-dating any time soon. I mean, how would that work? We could start saving now, but dinner and a movie is looking somewhere ’round $3500 for me and Bek, not counting baby-sitting…

Aside from the obvious hilarity of this email and the continuous giggles that followed, the real reason I have treasured it is because it was the first time I have felt complete as a person: I realized I had my precious friends on both sides of the world, my devoted family, and now a loving Special Someone In Particular at my side. Love, in every possibly form, actually is all around.

However, we all know that Love isn’t just fancy dinners, cheesy Hallmark cards and Whitney Houston ballads; I did in fact see something on the silver screen the other night which depicted all this love business incredibly and accurately. French photographer Pierre Thoretton’s first documentary L’Amour Fou (literally translating to ‘Crazy Love’) depicts the lives of Yves Saint-Laurent and his partner of fifty years, Pierre Bergé. Within five minutes of the opening credits, I was an emotional train-wreck. We see Bergé in front of the camera; a man who has just closed the eyes of the man he had loved for half a century. Quite simply, he intimately tells us their love story; they fell in love, move in together within two weeks, and stuck together through turbulent waves of depression, fame, fortune, and the burden of being genius. Spanish literary great Paulo Coelho once described Love as,a constant state of anxiety, a battlefield; it’s sleepless nights, asking ourselves all the time if we’re doing the right thing. Real love is composed of ecstasy and agony.” And this is the exact reason why L’Amour Fou affected me so profoundly, as it highlighted the pure existence of Love, embodying all its beauties and its imperfections. Thoretton’s film is also a poignant reminder of the transient nature of life, and the importance of cherishing the one we love so dearly, for we never know what tomorrow may bring.

So…this Valentine’s Day, buy one of those much-loved mass-produced cards, a box of Hershey’s Kisses, or simply just tell your Valentine how much you love them. Although I will be 20,000 kilometres away from my gorgeous Special Someone In Particular this 14 February, we will still both be proposing a toast to Saint Valentine (whoever the heck he was) but more importantly to Love, because without it we’d be nothing. And as the Beatles once cranked out (albeit rather repetitively), “all you need is love.”

L’Amour Fou by Pierre Thoretton is screening as part of the L’Oreal Paris French Film Festival 2011 in New Zealand.

Screening times:

Wellington, Penthouse Cinema: Feb 15, 8.30pm

Auckland, Academy Cinemas: Feb 17 6.30pm; Feb 22 8.15pm; Feb 23 4.15pm

Auckland, Devonport Victoria Picture Palace: Feb 20, 6.00pm

Christchurch, Regent on Worcester Cinema: Feb 25 6.30pm; February 28 8.30pm

To read more of the NZ L’Oreal Paris French Film Festival 2011 you can click here.


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When I say “French Cinema” what do you think of?

It’s probably not Luis Bunuel’s bizarrely fantastic Un Chien Andalou or the haunting violence bubbling on the surface of Guillaume Canet’s Ne Le Dis à Personne that you’re thinking about, right?

Nope. I knew it!…I know you’re all thinking about all those lovely naked girls on a balcony in the fifth arrondissement, daintily smoking their cigarettes after a strenuous afternoon making love by the open window. You may laugh, but I know that’s how many people see the French cinema. And in some sense, there’s nothing wrong with that…

Whether we like it or not, we all have a certain voyeurism that pulses through our bloodstreams. We are enthralled by the lives of others. We go to the cinema to step out of our lives for a hundred minutes or so and into someone else’s. Whether it’s out of our own insecurities, fear, jealousy, hope, triumphs or failures, we go to the movies to do just that; to take a peek at someone else’s life.

This year the fifth annual French Film Festival bursts onto the New Zealand screens to, quite simply, celebrate the lives of others – the meals they cook, the music they listen to, the people they kiss, the heavy heartache, the happiness, and the bizarre volatility of their lives and ours in this world we live in. The magical thing about this festival is that we can discover a bit about someone else by escaping into another culture. Let’s face it, there’s nothing that a pinch of excitement, emotion, and amour can’t solve.

From Canet’s star-studded ‘dramedy’ Little White Lies, to Michel Gondry’s intimate The Thorn in the Heart, to the sugar-coated chick-flick All That Glitters – there’s certainly a little snippet of life for everyone at the French Film Festival this year. There’s a range of characters to fall in love with (pity Canet’s behind the camera), as well as their love for life, and commitment to family values and living.

I know for a fact that I will never become a Burlesque dancer. But in the dazzling, award-winning On Tour (Tournée) the fabulous Mathieu Almaric gives me a magical two and a half hours to catch a glimpse of what life could have been, had I chosen that particular path. For that mere twelfth of my day I forget about the deadlines at work, what to cook for dinner, and the dire state of my bank balance, and I become a girl transported into the wings of a world bursting with colour, imagination, and exuberance.  That, my friends, is the magic of cinema. So, go and get your tickets to the Festival today to step out of your shoes and into someone else’s. “La France va vous ADORER!”

L’Oréal Paris presents the fifth annual French Film Festival

Wellington: February 8 – 17 at the Penthouse Cinema

Auckland: February 16 – 24 at the Academy Cinema and Victoria Picture Palace

Christchurch: February 22 – March 2 at the Regent on Worcester

Ticket prices and screening times can be found here.

Or follow the Festival on Twitter.

Article written by: Sarah Reese, Festival Coordinator, French Film Festival 2011

Other articles by Sarah just click on this link.

Tournee – On Tour by Mathieu Almaric

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