French wave sweeps UK
by Fabien Lemercier
20/06/2008 - Traditionally considered a difficult territory for non-English speaking films, the UK has seen French titles enjoy new-found success over the last three years, confirmed by this summer’s programming of around ten French features of very different genres.
Having begun last week with the theatrical release of Pierre Salvadori’s Priceless [trailer] (distribution Icon Film Distribution), the wave gathers speed today as Abdellatif Kechiche’s The Secret of the Grain [trailer] (see interview – distribution Artificial Eye) and Sandrine Bonnaire’s documentary Her Name Is Sabine [trailer] (ICA) hit UK screens.
Backed by Unifrance, this French summer wave is set to continue with Jean-Paul Salomé’s Female Agents [trailer] (distribution Revolver - June 27); Lorraine Levy’s London Mon Amour [trailer] (Pathé UK - July 4); Olivier Assayas’ Summer Hours [trailer] (Artificial Eye - July 18); Cédric Klapisch’s Paris [trailer] (see interview – Optimum, July 25); François Ozon’s Angel [trailer] (Lionsgate - August 29); Eric Rohmer’s Romance of Astrea and Celadon [trailer] (Artificial Eye - September 12); and Philippe Claudel’s I’ve Loved You So Long [trailer] (Lionsgate - September 26).
For the occasion of these releases, all the directors have travelled or will travel to the UK, along with some of the actors (including Audrey Tautou, Sophie Marceau, Kristin Scott-Thomas, Virginie Ledoyen, Deborah François and Vincent Lindon).
The line-up of films will also include Luc Jacquet’s The Fox and the Child [trailer] (set to be released by Pathé this summer), Claude Chabrol’s The Girl Cut In Two [trailer] (Artificial Eye - August) and Eric Besnard’s Cash [trailer] (Tartan Films - September).
The last quarter of 2008 is also shaping up to be a booming season for French film in the UK, with several releases by Artificial Eye (Agnès Jaoui’s Let It Rain [trailer] on November 7, Erick Zonca’s Julia [trailer] on November 28, and Palme d’Or winner The Class [trailer, film focus] by Laurent Cantet), as well as Michel Hazanavicius’ OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies [trailer] (ICA), Nés en 68 [trailer] (“Born in 68”) by Olivier Ducastel and Jacques Martineau (Peccadillo Pictures), the documentary Animals in Love (Revolver) and Xavier Gens’ Frontier(s) [trailer] (Optimum).
A further two titles are set to be launched by Metrodome Distribution with release dates yet to be confirmed: Safy Nebbou’s Mark of an Angel [trailer] and collective animated film Fear(s) of the Dark [trailer].
Last year, the 52 French films released in the UK attracted 2.93m viewers, amassing €20.86m in box office takings and accounting for 2% of the market share. From 1998- 2004, figures for French films in the UK varied annually between 600,000 and 1.3m admissions. The turning point came in 2005 when figures shot up to 2.39m admissions and remained stable in 2006 with 1.92m (see interview with Elizabeth Conter).
(Translated from French)