Franco Film Festival 2013

Cinephiles rejoice, there's a film festival this week in Dubai with a focus on the Francophone region. It's on from 23rd to 29th March in VOX Cinemas in Mall of the Emirates. All the films are subtitled in English.

Here's the schedule and list of films:

Saturday, 23rd March at 6pm 

FranceAsterix & Obelix : God Save Britannia (France, 2012) 

Directed by Laurent Tirard with Gerard Depardieu, Catherine Deneuve and Edouard Baer. The year is 50 AD and Julius Caesar is hungry for new conquests. At the helm of his triumphant legions, he decides to invade a small island at the very edge of the known world, a mysterious land named Britain. Victory is swift and total... almost.

A small village manages to resist, but it can’t hold out for long, so the Briton Queen Cordelia sends her most faithful officer Anticlimax to seek aid in Gaul, in a small village known for its stubborn resistance to the Romans. In this Gaul village, Asterix and Obelix already have their hands full, since their chief has entrusted them with the task of making a man of his good-for-nothing nephew Justforkix, freshly arrived from Lutetia - a task that is proving all but easy.

When Anticlimax arrives to ask for help, Asterix and Obelix are tasked with escorting him back to Britain with a barrel of their famous magic potion, with Justforkix in tow as the journey seems an excellent opportunity to educate the boy. However, nothing quite turns out as planned.

Saturday, 23rd March at 9pm

The Wind Horse / Le Cheval De Vent (Morocco, 2002) 

Directed by Daoud Aoulad Syad, “The Wind Horse” is a story about the friendship that develops between a man in his sixties and a man in his thirties. It’s a road movie – seen from a sidecar – in which poetry and fantasy spring from a background of dull, everyday routine.

Tahar, once a blacksmith, leaves his son’s house in the little town of Salé, where he feels he becomes nothing but a burden and a nuisance. Driss, the younger man, leaves hospital without knowing whether he is cured or has little time left to live. He concentrates all his energy on a letter he has received, informing him that his mother wishes to see her children one last time after growing up with an older brother, convinced that his mother had died when he was three years old.

What brings Tahar and Driss together is the nature of their quest, each has set his sights on a fantasy horizon, and prefers to keep yearning for it than actually facing up to reality.

Sunday, 24th March at 9pm

The Giants / Les Géants (Belgium, 2011)

Directed by Bouli Lanners. It’s summer time; Zak and Seth find themselves dead broke and ditched by their absentee mother in the family’s cottage. Just like every holiday, they’ve resigned themselves to another shitty summer. But things change this year, when they meet Danny, a local teenager. Together, with life at their fingertips, they begin the great perilous journey of their lives.

Monday, 25th March at 9pm

Mister Lazhar / Monsieur Lazhar (Canada, 2011)

Directed by Philippe Falardeau with Mohamed Fellag, Sophie Nélisse and Émilien Néron. At a Montréal public grade school, an Algerian immigrant is hired to replace a popular teacher who committed suicide in her classroom. While helping his students deal with their grief, his own recent loss is revealed.

Tuesday, 26th March at 9pm

The Lebanese Rocket Society (Lebanon, 2013) 

Directed by Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige. When the two filmmakers inadvertently discovered that their native Lebanon launched the first rocket in the Middle East in the 1960s, and that the nation was immensely proud of its involvement in the international race to conquer the last frontier, they were surprised and intrigued. Why had such a significant episode in Lebanon’s history been altogether erased from the collective memory?

Interviewing scientists, professors and army authorities involved in the development of the rocket project, the directors uncover a dream of future glory that was halted and silenced by international pressure following the Arab-Israeli military conflict of 1967.

In bringing this exciting chapter of Lebanese history to light, Hadjithomas and Joreige’s film reflects the reawakening of the hopes and dreams of the peoples of the Middle East in the wake of the Arab Spring. 

Wednesday, 27th March at 9pm 

The Little Room/ La Petite Chambre (Switzerland, 2012) 

Directed by Stéphanie Chuat and Véronique Reymond. This is a story of the heart. Edmond’s is no longer strong. But it still beats with an independence which fights against the very idea of entering a retirement home, while at the same time refusing help from Rose, his home carer.

Nonetheless she stands up to him. She knows the tumult that a heart undergoes when it is forced to accept the unacceptable. Hers hasn’t yet healed. One day however, a bad fall forces Edmond to accept Rose’s support.

Thursday, 28th March at 9pm 

The Hunger / La Faim (Egypt, 1986)


Film still from The Hunger

Directed by Aly Barakhan with Souad Hosny, Mahmoud Abdel Aziz, Yousra. The movie, based upon the novel of the same name by Naguib Mahfouz, examines the social conditions of Cairenes during the first decade of the twentieth century.

In doing so, both the movie and novel deal extensively with the themes of poverty and death. In this adaptation of episodes from Mahfouz’s 1977 novel The Harafish, a weak-willed man accidentally kills one of the gangsters to whom local merchants pay protection money. The resulting adulation goes to his head, as he profits during a famine and takes a second wife from a higher class.

Friday, 29th March at 4pm

The Illusionist/ L’illusionniste (France, 2010)

Directed by Sylvain Chomet. The illusionist is a dying breed of stage performer. Ever since rock and pop stars have taken away slightly more than his bread and butter, his worsening economic situation has forced him to accept questionable engagements in dubious basement venues, at garden parties or in bars and cafés.

In one of these obscure establishments, he meets an innocent young girl named Alice. Alice is just as delighted by his magical tricks. The performance has been arranged in order to celebrate the advent of electricity on their remote island. But, unlike the others, Alice is completely captivated by our hero and is convinced that his tricks are truly the result of magic.

She follows the illusionist to Edinburgh and keeps house for him while he performs at a small local theatre. Unable to imagine anything worse than disappointing Alice, the illusionist can’t admit that he cannot really perform magic instead allowing himself to be bankrupted by the constant present-giving. (Based on a screenplay by Jacques Tati).

[Film synopsis via]