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Burning Brighter, a French film festival, celebrates the diversity of emerging voices in French cinema this weekend at Florence Gould Hall.
Burning Brighter: New Voices in French Cinema by the Alliance Française of the Institut français is an in-person and online festival that features award-winning films by new French filmmakers from different cultural backgrounds. These new French filmmakers are paving the way for a world of French cinema that more reflects modern society by introducing new narratives and turning the lens towards faces and places rarely seen on screen.
“I’m really excited to show a new kind of French storytelling, new stories coming from different voices, because if it wasn’t for people like Claire (festival co-curator and member of the selection committee for the Directors’ Fortnight at the Cannes Film Festival), who are dedicated to a more egalitarian world of French cinema, I don’t think these films would be screened, ”said Holy Fatma, whose film,“Blooming Dalia ”, will be presented at the festival.
The Burning Brighter Festival includes films that tell stories of everyday struggles, hard-won redemption, sexual oppression, identity and belonging. The festival will include six feature films, six short films, a television series, exclusive questions and answers for directors and a panel discussion.
“We wanted to offer a diversity of genres and voices in short and feature films,” said Delphine Selles-Alvarez, curator of the French Institute Alliance Française. “It was important for us to show how these filmmakers adopt different genres to express their stories. ”
The in-person festival begins October 1 at 7 p.m. with a screening of “The sky of Lebanon” directed by Chloé Mazlo. The film is set in the 1950s and is inspired by the life of his family in the years leading up to the Lebanese Civil War. The film is in French, Arabic and Italian with English subtitles.
The festival will close its in-person screenings on October 3 with “Terre Rouge (Red)” directed by Farid Bentoumi which tells the story of a character who must face problems that answer today’s most pressing moral questions.
Provide a space for emerging French filmmakers
Claire Diao, co-curator of the festival, said the aim of the festival is to help present a new generation of emerging French filmmakers. In choosing which films and filmmakers to include in the festival, Diao said she was looking for films that offered a different perspective on France, emerging filmmakers, filmmakers who were not necessarily tied to the United States, women filmmakers and films featuring diverse and emerging actors. .
“The industry is getting a lot of pressure to be more representative and to support filmmakers and films that really represent what French society looks like, which is a very multicultural society today,” said Selles-Alvarez.
Historically, the film industry in France has been difficult to enter especially for people of color and for people who are not involved in the right networks, have less money and less or no formal training. Diao wanted to provide an outlet for the new generation of French filmmakers who create meaningful content despite barriers.
“It’s important to open your mind to other and new filmmakers to see what’s going on and be aware that within the industry there are struggling filmmakers who have something to say,” he said. said Diao. Adding: “These filmmakers are real fighters who have a story to tell.”
The curators wanted to present these films to New Yorkers to give them the opportunity to discover these emerging filmmakers, from diverse origins and multicultural backgrounds, whose films do not always arrive in America.
“They are emerging strongly on the French scene today, and we want to ensure that the public has the chance to see the richness and diversity of the work they offer: from social dramas, to comedies, lyrical films, even science fiction and superhero plays, there’s so much going on in France, with artists of color, that we wanted to share that with New York, ”said Selles-Alvarez.
Behind the Scenes: Why Filmmakers Created Their Work
What many of these emerging filmmakers have in common is that they grapple with their place in the world, Selles-Alvarez said. The characters in their films find it too difficult to embrace the traditions they come from while being part of modern French culture. Many films explore the question “Who am I?” »But through various genres.
“Blooming Dalia”, directed by Holy Fatma, is an identity story about a young French woman who reconnects with her Algerian roots. Fatma’s film will be screened at the festival on Friday at 5:30 p.m.
Fatma, who is herself French and Algerian, first started filmmaking as a satyr based on a reality TV star, but as she wrote it, she decided to make the film more personal.
“I had to make peace with this Algerian part of me that I hated so much,” said Fatma, who will be attending the festival to present her film in person.
Fatma went to Algeria twice during the film to see her family and reconnect with herself and her past.
“It was a whole process of reconnecting and realizing that I don’t have to reject this (being Algerian) because I am that (Algerian), and that’s good,” Fatma said. “I am French, Algerian, Italian and American. I feel like I am a little of so many things.
The main character of Fatma’s film is an overweight fake blonde Algerian. Fatma said that while this voice exists in society, it has never been seen in French cinema. The story is a classic tale of a woman stuck between two cultures, but it is told through comedy and fantasy.
“I think we’re all tired of these diversity movies that are dark and sad and miserable and told through an outside eye, so the difference is I can tell my own story,” Fatma said.
“Simply Black”, directed by Jean-Pascal Zadi and John Wax is a comedy that explores the themes of racism and coalition. “School life,” directed by Grand Corps Malade and Mehdi Idir, creates a living representation of the life of contemporary French adolescents. “A Brighter Tomorrow”, directed by Yassine Qnia, tells the story of a man who struggles to overcome his situation and change his destiny.
Bringing French cinema to New York
While French films have audiences in the United States, changing viewing habits and audiences have made it more difficult for French cinema to be seen and recognized, Selles-Alvarez said. French cinema has traditionally attracted an older audience, and it has been difficult to renew this audience of young moviegoers, she said.
In France, as in the United States, issues of social justice, access to representation and equity have become more important, and these issues have reached the cultural world and the world of cinema, said Selles-Alvarez. As more and more French films start to address these questions, it can help to attract a larger audience.
“French cinema, just like in the United States, is such a popular art that it is positioned to reach a wider audience and help influence perspectives to better understand the diversity and similarities we all share as human beings, ”Selles-Alvarez said.
Selles-Alvarez said French cinema has the resources to give space for filmmakers of diverse origins and filmmakers of color to express themselves and share their own stories and where they come from.
“France has a very strong support system for financing films, which has made cinema a vital and very rich sector of cultural life and industry in France. It’s interesting because this system makes it possible to take risks on films and filmmakers to support new and original voices, ”said Selles-Alvarez.
Fatma said she was curious to see audience reactions, especially from non-French people, as the film is a Franco-Algerian story and the jokes are based on these two cultures.
“I can’t wait to see what works with American audiences and what doesn’t,” Fatma said. “But overall I want them to come out of the screening feeling like they’ve discovered the ‘story of a character that they’ve never seen, and I hope they’ll laugh because it’s a funny and touching movie.
While the main character visually exists in America, Fatma’s technique of using comedy to explore the idea of coming together and being comfortable with who you are is what makes the movie so different.
The festival will continue online from Sunday October 3 through Sunday October 10 with six additional films. Created with The Edmond de Rothschild Foundations, the festival demonstrates the important role the arts play in enhancing different communities.