Every year on March 20, about 170 million Francophones around the world observe the International Day of Francophonie by holding cultural activities and events to celebrate the diverse facets of French culture. This year, in collaboration with the Canadian, Belgium and Swiss trade offices and the embassies of Chad and Burkina Faso, the French Institute in Taipei has organized the second French Film Festival which runs from today through April 6 and brings over 40 French-language movies from 12 countries to Taipei at the Showtime Cinema (欣欣晶華影城) and the National Palace Museum (故宮博物院).
Screenings at the Showtime Cinema provide a good chance to see a bevy of award-winning French-language films produced in recent years including Academy Award winners March of the Penguins and The Barbarian Invasions, Venice winner L'enfant by the Dardenne brothers and French director Jacques Audiard's The Beat That My Heart Skipped, to just name a few.
This year's film professional in focus is the French actress/scriptwriter/director Agnes Jaoui. The versatile actress won critical acclaim while working with French New Wave auteur Alain Resnais on the director's Smoking/No Smoking (1993) and Same Old Song (1997). Jaoui's directorial debut The Taste of Others in 2000 and later Look at Me in 2004 propelled her onto the international stage.
Apart from Same Old Song, The Taste of Others and Look at Me, the festival will include the Taiwan premiere of her latest film La Maison de Nina, in which Jaoui plays the loving mother figure who nurtures war orphans during World War II.
After upgrading its facilities and carrying out renovations last year, the Wenhui Hall at the National Palace Museum is Taipei's newest art-house film venue. The 26 films shown at the museum are divided into three sections: "Truffau Classical"; "Contemporary French"; "African New Wave."
Four classics by Francois Truffau will be shown including The 400 Blows, Shot the Piano Player, Jules and Jim and Two English Girls and the Continent.
The African New Wave section introduces 18 documentary and feature films made after 2000 from eight African countries.
Included in the lineup are Cannes' entries Abouna from Chad and En Attendant le Bonheur of Mauritania, Venice entry Nha Fala of Guinea-Bissau and Berlin winner Madame Brouette from Senegal.
A word of caution for those who only speak English: there will be no English subtitles for screenings at the Showtimes cinema, while two-thirds of the films shown at the National Palace Museum will have English subtitles. For more information about the films, dates and schedules at different venues, visit www.fi-taipei.org, www.showtimes.com.tw or npm.gove.tw/main/fmain.htm.