Cork French Film Festival sees women to the fore in diverse programme

Festival includes Q & A with award winning French actress Sandrine Bonnaire

It may be no more than coincidence given the rise of the #MeToo movement, but women are very much to the fore at this year's 29th Cork French Film Festival playing central roles in some of the most striking features on offer in the programme.

Curated by guest festival programmer, Marie-Pierre Richard, this year's festival, which runs from March 2nd to 7th, opens with Xavier Giannoli's The Apparition which tells the story of a veteran war reporter sent to investigate a young woman and her alleged apparitions of the Virgin Mary.

Speaking to Variety about the film which stars Vincent Lindon as the sceptical reporter and Galatéa Bellugi as the novice nun, Giannoli explained how he conceived the character of the young visionary who lives in a town in south-eastern France where she sees the apparition.

“I wanted to buck the cliché of the ‘divine’ face of a girl who has seen the Virgin. She’s a modern-day girl, a novice in a convent but since her character claims to have received a supernatural apparition, she has a strange aura which might come from this situation or the actress herself or both.”


Like The Apparition, the closing film, Reinventing Marvin will also enjoy its Irish premiere at the festival. The film centres on a young gay man fleeing his repressive past in a working class community in the Vosges to discover his true self as an artist.

Luxembourg born filmmaker, Anne Fontaine told Directors Notes that the film is about how society fails individuals if they are different, but she dismissed the idea that it required a feminine sensitivity to make it.

"It's ridiculous to think that a female director will make a film which is more sensitive than a man, it is not black and white - there are no films for men, films for women, films for gay or films for black and ethnic. It's segregation to make films like that," she told Directors Notes.

According to Pierre-Richard, women also feature strongly in Xavier Beauvois's latest film, The Guardians which depicts the life of women left behind in rural France in a beautifully paced intimate account of the peasant world and the female heroes of the first World War.

The award-winning French actress, director and screenwriter, Sandrine Bonnaire along with director, Gael Morel, will attend the festival for a question and answer session after a screening of their film, Catch the Wind.

"The film offers an affecting portrait of a woman who traverses two troubled worlds - the collapsing working class structures of France and the archaic conditions and exploitation she encounters in Morocco and we're delighted to showcase it here in Cork," Pierre-Richard said.

Bonnaire and Morel will also give a masterclass at UCC, while Cork Institute of Technology will host a screening of Marie Noelle's biopic Marie Curie - The Courage of Knowledge starring Polish born actress, Karolina Gruszka as the pioneering scientist.

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Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times