An initiative of the French Embassy in Italy, this event is organized by the Institut Français in Italy in association with UniFrance, with the participation of the French Academy in Rome (Villa Medici).
As is the case each year, this encounter with the different faces of contemporary French cinema will start in Rome, before heading off on a tour of six cities: Naples, Palermo, Bologna, Turin, Florence, and Milan.
The festival program in Rome, presented at three different locations (the Nuovo Sacher, the Casa del Cinema, and the Institut Français - Centre Saint-Louis), will give audiences the chance to explore recent French filmmaking in all its diversity, ranging from art house films to mainstream popular movies. This year's lineup places a particular focus on delving into the many challenges and pressures, personal or external, involved when a man, woman, or corporation seeks to gain more freedom. The new heroines that Italian spectators will discover in Ismael's Ghosts, Bright Sunshine In, Jeannette: the Childhood of Joan of Arc, and Custody are some of the finest examples of this.
UniFrance president Serge Toubiana will travel to Rome on March 26 to take part in a press conference for the event, and the same evening will attend the launch of a presentation of restored French films held at the Casa del Cinema, for which he will introduce The Crime of Monsieur Lange by Jean Renoir, accompanied by Gianluca Farinelli, director of the The Bologna Cinematheque.
Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi, 2018 festival patron
Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi will present Like Crazy by Paolo Virzi at a special evening event and will lead a master class for Roman film students. A Special Focus will be dedicated to the work of Bruni-Tedeschi, with six of her films showcased at the Casa del Cinema. On April 5, the actor-director will also present her documentary A Young Girl in her Nineties along with her co-director Yann Coridian.
Honoring auteur cinema
Arnaud Desplechin, Ariane Ascaride, Robert Guédiguian, and Bruno Dumont are the guests of honor at this year's festival. Arnaud Desplechin, whose film Ismael's Ghosts is scheduled to hit Italian theaters on April 19, will present six of his films in the Focus section "At Home and Abroad: Films as Novels" at the Nuovo Sacher theater, and will hold a master class. His lead actors Louis Garrel and Alba Rohrwacher will also be in attendance. Robert Guédiguian and Ariane Ascaride will introduce The House by the Sea, which is scheduled for release in Italy on April 12. The director and his leading actress will also accompany the film's presentation in Bologna, Milan, and Padua. Furthermore, Bruno Dumont will travel to Palermo after his visit to Rome to take part in a special Focus event dedicated to his films, held in the Sicilian capital.
In addition to Robert Guédiguian, Ariane Ascaride, and Arnaud Desplechin, Laurent Cantet, Dominique Marchais, Fiona Gordon, Dominique Abel, Olivier Ayache-Vidal, Bruno Dumont, Claire Denis, Xavier Legrand, Léa Drucker, Samuel Jouy, Alba Rohrwacher, and Louis Garrel will also be in attendance as guests of the event.
A Digital rendezvous
With the aim of further developing the digital component of the event and to make works by new-generation French filmmakers accessible for viewing online, UniFrance has committed to renewing its partnership with the Italian platform MyMovies.it.
During the Rendez-Vous with New French Cinema, MyMovies LIVE will, as part of a nation-wide screening event, offer online viewing access to the three award-winning films from this year's edition of MyFrenchFilmFestival.com, whose 2018 Directors' Jury was led by Paolo Sorrentino:
The French Embassy in Rome is joining forces with the Roma Lazio Film Commission, the Film Commission of the Ile-de-France Region, and UniFrance to organize a series of Franco-Italian co-production meetings (including presentations from governnment organizations, pitching sessions, one-to-one meetings, and a lunch event) at the Palazzo Farnese on Thursday, April 5.
The participating French and Italian producers will have the opportunity to meet and discuss their interest in finding co-production projects or financial partners for their products in development.
French Films in Italy
The Italian market accounted for 5.4% of global admissions to French films in 2017. Italy is a key territory for French cinema, ranking in 6th place internationally in terms of movie attendance figures, just behind Germany.
French films' market share generally fluctuates between 4% in the less prosperous years and 8% in outstanding years (such as 2012, the year of the major hit The Intouchables). The market share stood at 4.8% in 2017, with 4,387,000 admissions registered for French productions (out of a total of 92 million admissions for films of all nationalities). Italy ranked as the 2nd most successful country in Europe for French films, after Germany, with the three top performing films Two is a Family (Lucky Red, 1,105,189 admissions), Leap (Videa, 758,793 admissions), and Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (01 Distribution, 359,625 admissions).
In 2018, information available to date shows a total of 717,000 admissions to French productions in Italy, chiefly divided between Belle and Sebastian, Friends for Life (Notorious Pictures, 185,651 admissions to date, following the first installment of the film which garnered over 1 million admissions), A Bag of Marbles (Notorious Pictures, 137,388 admissions), and C'est la vie! (Videa, 126,226 admissions).
As this indicates, French mainstream productions are very popular in Italy, particularly comedies, which are the genre most appreciated by Italian audiences (since 1995, over 40% of admissions to French films have been credited to comedies). But with more than 60 French films released in Italy each year, the art house category is certainly not neglected, and is well-represented in theaters thanks notably to the support of a network of seasoned professionals with an eye for innovation.