Burning Brighter 2021 - New voices in French cinema

Burning Brighter: New Voices in French Cinema is a festival dedicated to young and emerging cineastes. The festival showcases films that explore the perspectives of different communities. From Oct. 3 to Oct. 10, 2021, enjoy a selection of features, shorts, documentaries and a Q&A, all online.

“Born in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, the filmmakers of Burning Brighter come from multicultural families of diverse origins. They were brought up watching American films in which they saw their cultures and backgrounds represented. They haven’t necessarily studied cinema, and can’t rely on personal connections within the industry. They have important things to say, but cannot relate to the way that French cinema has historically portrayed their experiences.

These filmmakers, who represent a Double Vague, or “Double Wave” in French cinema, write screenplays, wield cameras, and create films that reflect the multicultural nature of contemporary French society.”

— Claire Diao (Co-curator and member of the Directors’ Fortnight Selection Committee at the Cannes Film Festival)

"The new generation of French cinema promises to be more inclusive and reflective of today’s society. It introduces new narratives and turns its lens on faces and places that are rarely seen on screen. The films featured at Burning Brighter—13 of them US or NY premieres—include stories of daily struggles, hard-won redemption, sexual oppression, identity, and belonging. Tracing their heritage from Ivory Coast, Sri Lanka, Cameroon, Morocco, Guadeloupe, Lebanon, and France, these filmmakers bring a burst of new energy to FIAF’s fall reopening."

— Extract from the website of the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the United States

To watch the selection, get a pass for only $25. Purchase a pass here.
Or buy a film access for each film ($16 / film or short program).

Arab Blues - New York Premiere

Dir. Manele Labidi, 2019, France. 88 min. Color
With Golshifteh Farahani, Majd Mastoura, Aïcha Ben Miled, Feriel Chamari, Hichem Yacoubi
In French and Arabic with English subtitles

Selma, a 35-year-old psychoanalyst, decides to return from France to her native Tunisia to improve the mental health of her compatriots. Yet things don’t go quite as planned, as she finds herself helping a cast of colorful new patients discover the joys—and challenges—of psychotherapy. Through the lens of Selma’s practice and patients, this charming comedy offers a snapshot of contemporary Tunisian society.


Night Ride - North American Premiere

Dir. Frédéric Farrucci, 2019, France. 95 min. Color
With Guang Huo, Camélia Jordana, Xun Liang
In French with English subtitles

César Awards 2021: Rone, Best Original Music

Jin drives an illegal taxi for the Chinese Triads, with dreams of becoming a DJ. Playing inspiring techno music in his car, he meets Naomi (played by French pop singer Camélia Jordana), a troubled sex worker who makes him her private chauffeur. Falling in love, they decide to escape together—yet not before Jin must double-cross some very dangerous people. With original music composed by the famous EDM star Rone, this thriller is set in a community rarely represented in French cinema.


Leave? - US Premiere

Dir. Mary-Noël Niba, 2019, France. 77 min. Color
In French and Pidjin with English subtitles, English

After several deeply disillusioning years spent in Europe, Stéphane, Léo, Cheikh, and Boye Gaye have returned to their home countries in Africa, where they are perceived as failures and face tremendous difficulties in readapting. The only comrade who stayed in France, Guy Roméo, is living in Marseille, hoping to see his dream of becoming a well-known artist come true before he returns to his native Cameroon. In this documentary film, director Mary-Noël Niba paints a sobering and poignant picture of the reality facing migrants who hope to build a better future for themselves and their families.


Should the Wind Drop

Dir. Nora Martirosyan, 2020, France. 100 min. Color
With Grégoire Colin, Hayk Bakhryan, Arman Navasardyan
In French, Armenian, English, Russian with English subtitles
Q&A with Nora Martirosyan and Julie Paratian

Official Selection, Cannes Festival 2020

French auditor Alain Delage (Grégoire Colin, in tour-de-force performance) arrives in the war-torn South Caucasus region of Nagorno-Karabakh to study the feasibility of a new airport. He is quickly engrossed in the struggles of a proud people living on hope alone, and attempts to help them achieve their goals. Armenian-born writer-director Nora Martirosyan’s extraordinary debut combines a precise and subtle portrayal of a complex geopolitical situation with a poetic, sensual evocation of life and human resilience.

“A fascinating story, and a contentious one” – Screen Daily

This film is part of Young French Cinema, a program of UniFrance and the Cultural Services of the French Embassy.


Simply Black - North American Premiere

Dir. Jean-Pascal Zadi and John Wax, 2020, France. 90 min. Color
With Jean-Pascal Zadi, Caroline Anglade, Fary
In French with English subtitles
Video introduction by Jean-Pascal Zadi

César Awards 2021: Jean-Pascal Zadi, Most Promising Actor

This corrosive comedy tackles the timely topics of racism and coalition building with a good dose of self-deprecation. Director Jean-Pascal Zadi also stars as struggling actor JD, who, inspired to stage a demonstration for racial justice, learns that organizing for a noble cause can be hard work indeed. With cameos from actor-rapper JoeyStarr, comedian Claudia Tagbo, footballer Lilian Thuram, and actor-filmmaker Mathieu Kassovitz.


Short Program 3

Blaké — US Premiere
Dir. Vincent Fontano, France, 2020, 23 min
With David Erudel, Vincent Fontano, Lolita Tergemina
In Creole with English subtitles
Video introduction by Vincent Fontano

In this experimental short—the first Reunionese film to win a prize at the Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival—Vincent Fontano offers a poetic interplay between two security guards whiling away the hours during the overnight shift in an underground parking lot.

Mama Lova — North American Premiere
Dir. Jeff Taver, France, 2019, 16 min
With Alicia Bigot, Akim Chir, Mata Gabin, Daniel Joseph,
In French with English subtitles
Video introduction by Jeff Taver

Adèle, heartbroken after the death of her teenage son during a gang fight, channels her sorrow into defending herself and her neighborhood, all but neglecting her two other children in the process. This unexpected short film by Jeff Taver finds hope and strength in tragedy.

What If the Goats Die - New York Premiere

Dir. Sofia Alaoui, France, Morocco, 2019, 23 min
In Berber with English subtitles

High in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco, young shepherd Abdellah and his father are snowed in with their animals. When Abdellah can finally reach the nearest village for supplies, he finds it abandoned. Dumbstruck, he will soon find out the extraordinary reasons why the inhabitants left.

Burning Brighter: New Voices in French Cinema 2021, a festival organized by fi:af, is made possible by the generous support of The Edmond de Rothschild Foundations.

Should the Wind Drop is part of Young French Cinema, a program of UniFrance and the Cultural Services of the French Embassy.

Find all the details on the 
FIAF’s website Burning Brighter: New Voices in French Cinema...

Images: fi:af 

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