The event will present American premieres of the latest works by established French masters, such as Claire Denis, Costa-Gavras, and Agnès Varda, as well as recent Cesar award-winners Séraphine and Mesrine. The eighteen films showcased at the festival reflect the eclectic variety of genres offered by current French film production, to be screened at the Walter Reade Theater and the IFC Center. The following titles make up the selection:
35 Rhums (35 Shots of Rum) by Claire Denis, Aide-toi, le ciel t'aidera (With a Little Help from Myself) by François Dupeyron, L'Apprenti (The Apprentice) by Samuel Collardey, L'Autre (The Other One) by Patrick Mario Bernard and Pierre Trividic, Bellamy by Claude Chabrol, Le Code a changé (Change of Plans) by Danièle Thompson, Eden à l'ouest (Eden is West) by Costa Gavras, La Fille de Monaco (The Girl from Monaco) by Anne Fontaine, La Fille du RER (The Girl on the Train) by André Téchiné, Mesrine Part 1 and 2 by Jean-François Richet, Les Plages d'Agnès (The Beaches of Agnes) by Agnès Varda, Le Plaisir de chanter (The Joy of Singing) by Ilan Duran Cohen, Séraphine by Martin Provost, Stella by Sylvie Verheyde, Versailles by Pierre Schoeller, and Villa Amalia by Benoît Jacquot.
Opening Night will feature a screening of Faubourg 36 (Paris 36) by Christophe Barratier, held in the presence of the director and lead actress Nora Arnezeder. The film will be released on April 3 by Sony Pictures Classics.
Five of the films showcased at the event have already found buyers in the United States: Faubourg 36 (Sony Classics), La Fille de Monaco (Magnolia Pictures), Mesrine (Senator Entertainment US), Les Plages d’Agnès (Cinema Guild), and Séraphine (Music Box Films). The festival provides an opportunity to heighten exposure for the remaining titles and to attract the attention of American professionals.
This year for the first time, festival organizers will introduce a program of six French short films: Bébé by Clément Michel, Bonne Nuit Malik by Bruno Danan, Le Feu, le Sang, les Étoiles by Caroline Deruas, Mon petit frère de la lune by Frédéric Philibert, Peau neuve by Clara Elaouf, and Tous les enfants s'appellent Dominique by Nicolas Sihol.
As part of the On Set With French Cinema program, Christophe Barratier, Costa-Gavras, and Benoît Jacquot will lead master classes with film students at Columbia University and the School of Visual Arts (SVA).
Around twenty French producers and sales agents will also accompany the artistic delegation, who will take advantage of their stay in the United States to participate in interviews with national media representatives.
French films are currently riding high in the United States. Taken has just crossed the $100 million threshold at the box office, while Entre les murs (The Class), the Cannes Palme d’Or winner and recent Academy Award nominee in the Best Foreign-Language Film cateogry, posts a running total of $1.5 million. Il y a longtemps que je t'aime (I’ve Loved You So Long) is coming close to the $3 million mark. In 2008, French productions were seen by over 17 million American spectators, indicating an impressive rise of 59% over 2007.