My French Film Festival – Shorts Competition

One of the joys of an online film festival is, of course, that one can take ones time and watch the every last entrant in a competition. It gives one much greater perspective and some insight into how the films may have been selected. Then of course, there is the whole level of personal engagement, one develops favourites and a whole new level of interest with the festival.

In this year’s Short Film competition, youth reigns supreme. If we ignore the single animation of the selection Dip N’ Dance and the supremely surreal A Town Called panic : The Christmas Log, the one heroine over 30 seems to be Sarah from An Extraordinary Person – who is, rather appropriately, not part of the competition.

So without further ado, on to the programme!

Aïssa – Clément Tréhin-Lalanne
No context, no backstory… Seen almost exclusively in close-up, we follow Aissa through a large anonymous building. She waits, she enters a room, she is told to undress… We are privy to the observations of the authorities as Aissa obeys her instructions… A rather striking 8 minute study of what it is like to be an illegal immigrant in France.

Dip N’ Dance – Hugo Cierziniak
What you own ends up owning you! Director Hugo Cierziniak starts his animated short with these, the words of warning of Tyler Durden (character from the cult film Fight Club) and procedes to make his case with what I can only describe as a very sinister version of the Beauty and the Beasts talking crockery.

Extrasystole – Alice Douard
A truly good teacher can teach you so much about life… When the new French literature teacher Miss Audrey walks into class, Raphaelle knows is not like the rest. Her assignments are off the wall, her attitude irreverent, she has even written an erotic novel! However there is something in the way she moves… Something in her looks… Raphaelle’s world is about to change for ever… Extrasystole is a sensual and emotionally charged story of coming of age and self-discovery.

Guy Moquet – Demis Herenger
Hollywood is everywhere, in the conscious – or indeed subconscious of all of us. This is the story of one of the many occasions it meets real life, on a council estate in Villeneuve. Guy Moquet doesn’t actually want much. He wants to give his girlfriend Ticky a romantic kiss in the middle of the local lake, at sunset. He loves her and wants the whole world to know, just like in the movies. Trouble is, as Guy Moque’ts friends try to explain to him, in this neighbourhood one doesn’t go around kissing anyone in the middle of parks or else, at the very least, the girls’ family is going to have words with you and possibly beat up your girl. But Guy Moquet is the hero of his own story, and he will make sure he gets the girl in the end.

La Bûche de Noël – A Town Called Panic : The Christmas Log – Stéphane Aubier, Vincent Patar
Cowboy and Indian are very upset. They have ruined Horses Christmas Log, so Horse has called Father Christmas and cancelled their Christmas presents! Can you believe it – no presents this year! Cowboy and Indian are determined to get those presents… It’s just that… They’re not quite sure how yet… This little gem of absurd comedy will not be to everyone’s taste. I found it to be a fruit of imaginative genius and physically rolled around laughing at it. But then again, that’s just me.

La Virée à Paname – A Trip to Paris – Carine May, Hakim Zouhani
Mourad seems like an average lad living on the local estate. He hangs out at the local caff has a girlfriend, annoying siblings and a Mom who nags. But unlike the rest of the lads, he goes to drama classes, he writes, he wants to be an artist. One day his drama teacher mentions a writing workshop with a prestigious writer who wants to work with young writers from the area. It is right up Mourad’s street really… If he can ever get away from his friends and relations and actually make it into town that is… A sensitive comedy with a bit of a twist in its tail.

Le Retour – The Return – Yohann Kouam
Will is psyched. His older brother Theo is back from his travels. He hasn’t been back home for so very long, and it has been hard on Will with just his Dad but Theo is back now and everything is going to be alright… Or is it… Will is about to make a discovery about Theo… A discovery that will change everything, for ever… A striking study on family secrets and prejudice.

Les Insouciants – Carefree – Louise de Prémonville
20 year – old Nils is embarking on one of the great rites of passage of youth – a road trip with friends. He has his Moms car, a beautiful girl he has an eye on also seems to have an eye on him, the drink is flowing the atmos is good… Except for one little phone call. A phone call, the importance of which Nils will realise far, far too late… The atmosphere changes from light to dark as quickly as British weather on an autumn day capturing that ephemeral quality of life itself that can change equally dramatically from one moment to the next.

Molii – Hakim Zouhani, Yassine Qnia, Carine May, Mourad Boudaoud
Stephen is taking over from his Dad Marcel at his job at the pool. Tonight is his first night on the job and he is looking forward to a very quiet night. The pool is closed after all, the only thing he needs to do is tidy up and set up for the next day. But just as he is about to close up and leave… A loud bang. Stephen is not alone in the eerie old pool.

Shadow – Lorenzo Recio
Xiao Shou, a traditional shadow puppeteer working in Taipei sees Ann purely by chance and immediately falls in love with her. But a scooter accident casts a shadow over Xiao Shou before he can make his true feelings known to her. Now, it is up to him to find out if love truly crosses all borders and barriers… Shadow is a beautiful study of love and the moment when two souls become one. Possibly the humble authors’ favourite out of the whole selection.

Out of Competition

Quelqu’un d’extraordinaire – An extraordinary person – Monia Chokri
Do you ever look around your group of so called friends and feel that actually, you have nothing in common? Sarah does, on a regular basis. She has her own little niche, you know, she doesn’t rock the boat and carries on. But one day, Sarahs boat capsizes completely. And as bad luck would have it, she has to be at a bachelorette party that self-same night… Thing is, Sarah really isn’t in the mood to toe the line anymore… This explosive short shows us what could happen when we put the niceties completely to one side and show our true feelings.

It is interesting to note that most of the youth is, in some way or another disenfranchised. Quite a few of the heroes are young men of African origin (classically the most disenfranchised social group in dominantly white societies) with one hero of Arab origin also present. Quite a few stories take place on council estates which separate the heroes from Paris proper economically , other heroes are separate from society be it through race, sexual orientation or slightly more supernatural causes… What makes the whole of the selection even more fascinating though is the myriad of different ways this separation is reflected, the reactions range from feeling like dejected outcasts to voluntary exiles, content in their own private worlds.

On another note, it is encouraging that LGBT themes have made an appearance in several films, but disappointing that only three out of the total of the eleven stories are led by female characters.

You can view all the films FOR FREE! via the website – myfrenchfilmfestival.com

A native of Istanbul, Turkey, Sedef moved to London three years ago to get her MA in Film Studies and never quite got round to going back home. As she once worked in a DVD company and watched films for a living, she started a personal blog (essiespeaks.blogspot.com) as a short answer to being constantly asked “watched anything interesting recently?” and loved blogging so much she just kept typing . She is the biggest Tarantino fan she knows and would be unable to choose a single film of his as a favourite.