French connection

French connection

The Week of French Film will see director Caroline Bottaro visit the city and actress Nathalie Baye honored.

Published: October 10, 2012 (Issue # 1730)


Nathalie Baye, shown here in ‘Together Is Too Much,’ stars in three movies of this year’s Week of French Film.

This year’s Week of French Film, which opens at Dom Kino movie theater on Oct. 12, celebrates the award-winning actress Nathalie Baye.

Three of the films being shown at this year’s festival star Baye: “Every Man for Himself” (1980), a drama directed by Jean-Luc Godard; “The Flower of Evil” (2003), a thriller directed by Claude Chabrol; and “Together Is Too Much” (2010), a comedy directed by Léa Fazer.

“The festival is intended to celebrate Nathalie Baye, [who] has always managed to combine work in auteur and commercial projects and whose acting, full of subtle nuance and emotional experience, won the love of French audiences with her very first films,” said the festival’s organizers.

This year’s special guest at the festival is Caroline Bottaro, the director of “Queen to Play” (2009), a melodrama based upon “La Joueuse d’Echecs” (The Chess Player), a novel by Bertina Henrichs about a French chambermaid (played by Sandrine Bonnaire) working on the island of Corsica, whose life takes an unexpected turn when she develops a fascination for chess. According to Tour de Film, one of the festival’s organizers, “Bottaro managed to put together a truly romantic film whose intricacies and exquisiteness can only be rivaled by the staggering beauty of Corsica’s natural landscapes depicted in the film.”


Baye in ‘Every Man for Himself.’

Also showing at this year’s festival are the passionate drama “The Three-Way Wedding” (2010) written and directed by the French master of cinematography Jacques Doillon, as well as two thought-provoking documentaries: “Nenette” (2010), directed by Nicolas Philibert, and “Dance — Ballet of the Paris Opera” (2009) directed by Frederick Wiseman. The two films tackle very different themes: “Nenette” (given a four-star rating by the prestigious Total Film magazine) tells the heartwarming story of the oldest inhabitant of the Jardin des Plantes zoo in Paris, an orangutan named Nenette, while “Dance —Ballet of the Paris Opera,” shot backstage at the Paris Opera, is “sumptuous in its length and graceful in its rhythm… a feast for ballet lovers,” according to a review in The New York Times.

The festival also comprises a program of shorts, which will also present nominees for the Lutin Short Film Award.

“This award for short films is considered to be as significant as the César [award] for full-length films,” said Sasha Akhmadshchina, the festival’s spokeswoman.

“It is awarded to the best of more than 600 shorts filmed in France every year. For beginners, short film is often a preparatory phase before entering the big wide world of cinema. For producers, it can be a means of finding a young talent and helping them to try their hand at a full-length project.”


The documentary ‘Dance — Ballet of the Paris Opera’ will be shown.

The week is therefore also a rare chances for audiences in St. Petersburg to see the freshest cream of the crop of short films, hand-picked by the prestigious Lutin panel.

The larger purpose of the festival is to “give an opportunity to viewers from different parts of Russia, both Russian and foreign, to re-examine celebrated French classics as well as those French films that are not available for DVD purchase and rent in Russia,” said Akhmadshchina.

The week’s program also includes many animated films, “some experimental, some scary, and some funny — all of them very different — but all are indicative of the artistic horizons that modern French directors are exploring today,” said Akhmadshchina.

“The festival does not limit itself to one particular genre or style; rather, it strives to bring out the best and the most original aspects of French cinema,” she added.


Caroline Bottaro’s ‘Queen to Play’ depicts a maid fascinated by chess.

The festival, whose sponsors include the French Institute in St. Petersburg, will also be held in Petrozavodsk, Kaliningrad, Naryan-Mar, Vologda, Veliky Novgorod and Murmansk.

“The week is a complete portrait of French cinema as it stands today, a layered cake, if you will, a multi-genre festival that originated back in the Soviet 1950s,” said Yulia Starovoitova, a representative of the French Institute.

“From Jean Gabin, Jean Marais, Brigitte Bardot, Alain Delon, Catherine Deneuve, Jean-Paul Belmondo… all the way to Nathalie Baye, Gerard Depardieu, Jean Reno and Sophie Marceau, French cinematography has captivated Russia and continues to do so today,” she said.

“The theater is full, the lights are off, and the show starts.”

The Week of French Film 2012 runs from Oct. 12 to Oct. 17 at Dom Kino movie theater, 12 Karavannaya Ulitsa. Tel. 314 0638. All films will be screened in French with Russian subtitles. For more information, visit

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