Tuesday, March 16, 2010

FFF 2010 - Welcome

Note: I have been reviewing each FFF offering as I attend. They are all in the same post about three posts back.

Director & Screen-writer: Philippe Lioret
Cast:Vincent Lindon, Firat Ayverdi, Audrey Dana

This was, by far, the stand-out choice of my 2010 French Film Festival, and it is scheduled for general release.

Bilal (Firat Ayverdi), a 17-year-old Kurdish refugee, has spent three months travelling across Europe in an attempt to reunite with his girlfriend who recently emigrated with her family to England.

The opening sequence involves trying to hide in lorries at Calais without being detected. Some horrific shots involving bags over heads to avoid the build up of CO2 in the truck that is detectable by the polis. Documentary in texture, these scenes show the extent of the misery and the impossibility of Bilal's mission.

Desperate to arrive in England before Mina's father marries her off to a more fancied contender, Bilal devises a plan to swim across the bitterly cold waters of the Channel, and heads to the local swimming pool to improve his technique and build up his strength and endurance.

Here is where the script is brilliant, as it introduces drama, and humour and various forms of love and affection. Bilal meets Simon (Vincent Lindon), a middle-aged swimming instructor with a dejected spirit, who is privately reeling in turmoil as he contends with an imminent divorce from his wife (Audrey Dana). Against his character, Simon becomes involved wth Bilal and with the plight of refugees at Calais. His wife is a voluntary work on the soup kitchens that work around the port area which is legal. However, as soon as Simon assists Bilal on a personal individual basis, he is regarded as assisting an enemy alien.

A success in France, writer-director Philippe Lioret has created an absorbing story that speaks not only of the social issues impacting the movement of peoples from war zones to peace, from economic penury to at least having a chance, but the story addresses the unquenchable nature of the human spirit. The story is "authentic" (a much abused term in this country at the moment!) all the way through and does not wimp out at the end.

Much to our surprise, Lioret introduced this screening and stayed around for a Q&A afterwards. He discussed how he came to the elements of the story, and how he avoided not just a documentary voice, but also an overly melodramatic voice.


diane said...

Now I really want to see it. Hopefully it comes to our arty theatres.
By the way I am a registered Australian citizen and have a certificate and passport to prove it. I have been here 51 years and feel Australian, I just happen to be born in England and live my first seven years there. I am proud of my heritage but I am prouder to be Australian. So what am I an Aussie or a Pommy?

Julie said...

That is tricky, yes? I will set you a question at the end of this comment.

The two men, Bill and Ben, you nominated as "Swiss boys". Is either of them naturalised?

A good friend of mine left England aged 15 for NZ and left NZ aged 21 for Australia. She is now 64 and has been an Australian citizen for yonks. However, her true colours were nailed to the mast when the Lions were out here playing the Wallabies. So ...

Which rugy team and which cricket team do you support when England plays Australia?

Hard question, isn't it?

diane said...

OOps I had a senior moment. I have been here for 61 years not 51. Wishful thinking that I'm ten years younger.
Both the boys are naturalised Australians, both travel on Aust passports. They can have dual nationality, so they are Swiss as well. I am Swiss because I'm married to one, and I can hold duel British and Australian citizenship. So I can hold three passports but I don't, I only keep my Australian one up to date.
As for sporting teams, I always barrack for Australia, whoever they are playing. The only trouble I have is when England plays Switzerland. Then I'm always a winner. I really couldn't care less about rugby or cricket but if it is Football (soccer) then I'm all agog.

Julie said...

Oh my God, how complex is that! My ex-husband emigrated to Australia from Britain in 1949 when he was 2. He took citizenship in 1973 and relinquished his British passport at the same time. He cannot stand soccer!

Both my children qualify for a British passport and I ensured that they both applied prior to turning 18. If I were you, I would have retained a method of entering Europe easily.

Good for you, girl! Well, maybe except for the soccer addiction. I don't follow sport at all really. I used to when I was married, but that was only because I did not control the remote.

That was interesting what you both said about the Swiss card deck. You could, of course, just play with a pack minus some cards. But that would not be the same I guess.

This coming Friday I go for lunch with Joan from the Blue Mountains and Peter from the Sunshine Coast. Should be fun!

Anonymous said...