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Festivals & events

01 October 2010 à 12:34

Report on the 1st Kazakhstan French Film Festival

The first film festival hosted by Unifrance in Kazakhstan, held from September 23 through 26, 2010, was a resounding success.

A country that has traditionally offered French cinema pride of place on its movie screens, Kazakhstan enjoys considerable economic stability at this time and a booming movie industry. This territory is emerging as a powerful member of the Commonwealth of Independent States and could well surpass Ukraine in the near future in terms of movie attendance and the number of theaters per capita meeting international standards.

It is within this highly favorable context that Unifrance decided to launch a film festival in this country, following in the tracks of the successful Unifrance-backed festival in Russia initiated by Unifrance eleven years ago. Indeed, this new event coincides with a rapid expansion in the exhibition sector and growing stability and a restructuring of the distribution sector, therefore necessitating support for local professionals acquiring French films.

Even though this independent state continues to acquire all films apart from national productions through Moscow, since Russian buyers acquire the rights for the whole of the CIS, if not for all former USSR states, it is quite clear that the great potential of this market and the repercussions of an upcoming Kazakh law allowing "spectators the possibility of viewing all films in the Kazakh language" will at some point lead local distributors to work directly with French sales agents.
In the meantime, thanks to the efforts of the manager of the Arman cinema in the city of Almaty, who is also a distributor, six of the eight films presented at the French Cinema Today event are slated for upcoming release on Kazakh screens. The festival opened with a screening of Oceans by Jacques Perrin and Jacques Cluzaud held in the presence of one of the film's underwater cinematographers, René Heuzey, and the French Ambassador to Kazakhstan, Jean-Charles Berthonnet, who traveled from the capital of Astana for the event. The delegation of French artists, led by Unifrance's executive director Régine Hatchondo, included Valérie Mairesse for The Merry Widow by Isabelle Mergault, Dinara Droukarova for Gainsbourg by Joann Sfar, François Dupeyron, co-director of Treasure, and Nathan Miller, co-director of I'm Glad that My Mother Is Alive. Delegation members took part in around fifty interviews with Kazakh media representatives, as well as discussions with cinema audiences and Q & A sessions with film students at the city's Arts Academy as part of a double master class.

Inspired by the success of last year's Short Film Night organized in Novossibirsk as part of the Unifrance Festival, a Short Film Night was held for the first time in Almaty, which attracted around 380 spectators, three quarters of whom stayed until 6 a.m., when their devotion was rewarded by a breakfast concocted by one of the only French chefs working in Almaty, which included copious quantities of croissants and traditional French bread and butter.

Held this year as part of the Eurasia Festival (which featured an appearance by Gérard Depardieuon its opening night, who presented the Kazakh film Amour Tardif in which he starred last year), this Unifrance event was organized with support from the Almaty City Hall, in partnership with the Hennessy Socio-Cultural Foundation, the French Embassy in Astana, and the Alliance Française in Almaty, with support from a host of private sponsors.
The major success of this first-time event lays the groundwork for the continuation of the festival in 2011, this time planned for late April.

Author : Joël Chapron

Latest update : 15 October 2010 à 12:34 CEST

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