A musical-biography of the singer-songwriter Claude François, the third-highest-grossing film in the history of French cinema and tributes to Julie Delpy and Yves Montand are among the highlights of the 16th City of Lights, City of Angels French film festival.
The lineup for the festival, which will screen 34 features and 21 shorts beginning April 16 at the Directors Guild of America in West Hollywood, was announced Tuesday evening.
Opening the festival is director Florent-Emilio Siri’s film “My Way,” which stars Jérémie Renier as François, the pop singer who sold 67 million records before his accidental death at 39.
“The Intouchables,” about a bond that develops between a disabled aristocrat and his caretaker, will close the event April 23. The film, written and directed by Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano, has become a breakout box-office hit in France and is set for release in the U.S. in May.
François Truffart, the director and programmer for the festival for the last eight years, said it’s been “an amazing year” for French cinema, coming off the best picture win for the black-and-white love letter to silent cinema “The Artist” at February’s Academy Awards.
“This certainly for me is the biggest lineup we have had,” Truffart said. “There is a new generation of actors and talent. Refreshing is the word I would use for the films this year.”
Though there are new names in the mix, many of the titles featured at the festival represent generations of French talent or see familiar faces trying on different roles.
Mathieu Demy, the son of directors Agnès Varda and Jacques Demy, makes his directorial debut and stars in “Americano,” a drama about a Frenchman who grew up in Los Angeles and now lives in Paris. Actor Daniel Auteuil (“Jean De Florette”) makes his directorial debut with “The Well Digger’s Daughter,” a remake of the 1940 Marcel Pagnol film in which he also stars.
Other highlights include “Another Woman’s Life,” a romantic comedy written and directed by Sylvie Testud starring Juliette Binoche and Mathieu Kassovitz; and “Michel Petrucciani,” a documentary from Michael Radford (“Il Postino”) about the famed jazz musician who was born with glass bone disease and stood 3 feet tall as an adult.
The festival will screen a newly restored print of “Le Sauvage,” the 1975 romantic comedy from director Jean-Paul Rappeneau (“Cyrano de Bergerac”) starring the late superstar Yves Montand as a married perfume-maker who leaves everything behind to become a recluse on an island. His happiness is disrupted by the arrival of a runaway bride (Catherine Deneuve).
Delpy will screen two films she wrote and directed — the romance “2 Days in Paris” from 2007 and her newest feature “Le SkyLab.”
To see the complete lineup, go to www.colcoa.org.
-- Susan King
Photo: A scene from Florent-Emilio Siri’s "My Way." Credit: Credit: "City of Lights, City of Angels