British films are receiving red-carpet treatment for five days in a small resort on the French north-west coast.
The Dinard Festival of British Film is no pop-up act of anti-Brexit resistance. This is the 29th year. It’s a compact festival, packing in a competition, previews, a special tribute to UK actor Ian Hart, as well as master classes in just five days.
Personalities from the British and French film industries are invited to make it an exciting international event for Dinard on the British Channel, across the estuary from the port of St Malo.
Very glamourous French actress and model, Monica Bellucci is the jury chair this year.
She graced the Cannes Film Festival as mistress of ceremonies in 2017. Her co-jurors are a Franco-British mix, including French director-actress Emmanuelle Bercot, now a Cannes regular seen in The Girls of the Sun this year, actor Rupert Grint, best known as Harry Potter's ginger chum, and Kate Dickie, a knock-out actress from Scotland who is well-known for her role in Game of Thrones, Lysa Arryn, as well as the security guard in Andrea Arnold’s Red Road, or as Cathy in Paul Wright's For Those in Peril. Also Ian Hart who played in Ken Loach’s 1995, Land of Freedom, as well as in Harry Potter films as Quirinus Quirell, or Voldemort’s voice-off.
Among the previews at Dinard this year, The Forgiven, which is a nice title for a biopic about South African Archbishop and Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu. It’s directed by Roland Joffé, remember his tear-jerking adaptation of City of Joy in 1992 with Om Puri and Patrick Swayze? Tutu is played by the amazing Forest Whittaker.
Among the six films in competition, vying for the Hitchcock awards at Dinard, note The Happy Prince, actor Rupert Everett’s directorial debut. A lush costume feature, its focus is the latter part of writer Oscar Wilde’s life. Everett stars as Wilde, and is supported by Colin Firth and Emily Watson, both established British names. Otherwise in the British film tradition established by Loach, Tony Richardson and the like in the mid-20th century, some films in competition tell stories about the struggles against social inequalities or discrimination. Adrian Shergold's Funny Cow for example, about a woman who finds an escape route as a stand-up comic making jokes out of her difficult past in the Workers' clubs in northern England. Another constant, so-called coming-of-age films, such as James Gardner’s Jelly Fish, or exploring parent-child relations and bullying in Deborah Haywood’s Pin Cushion.
The opening film at the Casino in Dinard on Thursday seemed like a safe bet, and jerked some tears.
Actor-director Andy Serkis' second film is called Breathe. It is produced by the son of Robin Cavendish, who contracted polio in Africa in the late 1950s when he was on the point of becoming a father, and became paralysed from the neck downwards. Actor Andrew Garfield, also of Spiderman fame, plays Cavendish and his determination to live as well as possible in the world outside hospital, despite being dependent on a respirator, his wife, friends to keep going. Here Garfield is virtually immobile, whereas in John Crowley's brilliant Boy A he danced like a devil and the film won the Golden Hitchcock Award here in 2008.