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Haiti in focus at Angoulême French-language film festival

media Orphée played by Joakim Cohen in Guetty Felin's film, Ayiti Mon Amour, featured in Angoulême French-language Film Festival 2018 Guetty Felin/

For the 11th year running Angoulême, a small town in south-west France, has become a star-studded movie hub for six days. The Festival of French-language film (FFA) has chosen Haiti for its country-focus this year.

The FFA sees 10 productions compete in a fiction contest, screens short films and documentaries, and generally revs up the town, which is best known these days for its international cartoon fair in January.

After Côte d'Ivoire, Senegal, Lebanon, Tunisia, Belgium and Burkina Faso, as well as the Canadian province of Quebec in previous years, Haiti takes pride of place this year.

"It's a bit complicated with Haiti, given all that they have endured," Dominique Besnehard, who cofounded the Angoulême festival in 2008, says, explaining why he and Marie-France Brière chose the country.

"When we hear about Haiti in the news, it's usually about politics or environment issues. However, we never hear about Haitian culture but, gosh, the number of writers, filmmakers and painters. And we wanted to highlight that, so that Haiti is not always seen as a disaster spot."

Films in the Haitian focus section:

  • Haitian Corner (1988) - Raoul Peck
  • L’Homme sur les quais/The Man by the Shore (1992) - Raoul Peck
  • Royal Bonbon (2002) - Charles Najman
  • Les Amours d’un Zombi/Zombi's Love Interests (2009) - Arnold Antonin
  • Chronique d’une catastrophe annoncée/Tale of a Catastrophe Foreseen (2010) - Arnold Antonin
  • Port-au-Prince - Dimanche 4 janvier (2015) - François Marthouret
  • Ayiti mon amour (2016) - Guetty Felin
  • Le Violiniste/The Violinist (2016) - Richard Senecal

Angoulême's respect for Haitian culture goes beyond its dedicated section, Jimmy-Jean Louis is one of the nine jury members led by leading French actress, Karin Viard.

In all films from 11 countries are in the FFA line-up.

The festival's opening film Tuesday night is called Lola et ses frères (Lola and her Brothers) directed by Jean-Paul Rouve and starring Ludivine Sagnier, José Garcia and Rouve himself.

Rouve has actually played in more films than he has directed and has worked with many of France's top mainstream directors like Luc Besson.

The 10 films in the main fiction competition are:-

  • Charlotte a du fun - Sophie Lorain - Canada (Charlotte has Fun)
  • L'Amour flou - Romane Bohringer et Philippe Rebbot - France (Crahazy Love)
  • Le Vent Tourne - Bettina Oberli - Switzerland (The Wind Changes)
  • Les Rois Mongols - Luc Picard - Canada (The Mongol Kings)
  • Photo de famille - Cécilia Rouaud - France (Family Photo)
  • Sauvage - Camille Vidal-Naquet - France (Savage)
  • Shéhérazade - Jean-Bernard Marlin - France
  • Sofia - Mereyem Banm'Barek - Tunisia
  • Tout ce qu'il me reste de la révolution - Judith Davis - France (All that's left me of the Revolution)
  • Troisièmes noces - David Lambert - Belgium (3rd Weddings)

FFA's Valois awards' ceremony takes place on 26 August.

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