MyFrenchFilmFestival 2021 Review

Another French film festival…right up my alley!

– Me

The 11th edition of the MyFrenchFilmFestival wrapped last week. The festival is a co-production with UniFrance and is the first French language cinema festival in the world to be completely online. Running from January 15 through February 15, 2021, the festival gave viewers a
chance to discover, from the comfort of their own home, more than 30 films (features and shorts) that were handpicked just for them! “Comedies, romcoms, dramas, documentaries, animations, cinema classics, VR works, films for young audiences…we will shine a light on all the genres representing the diversity of French-language cinema.” And I must say, MYFFF lived up to their mission — there was something for everyone and I was super impressed with the selection of films.

Since the festival overlapped with my coverage of Sundance and Paris International, I had to space my film viewings out in spurts. Of the more than 30 films, I was lucky enough to catch 6 features and 4 of the shorts (one of the films I was really interested in seeing, “Josep” was unfortunately geoblocked 😢).

So lets start by taking a look at the shorts I was able to catch.

“NUCLEAR FAMILY” (“Famille nucléaire”) – Written & Directed by Faustine Crespy

Louka Minnella & Syrus Shahedi in “Famille nucléaire”

I started my festival experience off on a good note — this short was unexpected yet endearing. Its the story of 18-year-old Jules (played by Louka Minnella who was really good in this role), torn on the cusp of manhood and coming into his own and stepping out from his eccentric mother’s control. It’s freedom/identity vs. responsibility. And it was super dope to see Syrus Shahedi who is in one of my favorite French series “Plan Coeur” (“The Hookup Plan” which is currently streaming on Netflix).

SOLE MIO — Written & Directed by Maxime Roy

Gall Gaspard & Jackie Ewing in “Sole Mio”

This one was quite interesting. It a family drama that centers on the relationship between a young man, his mother and his father on the eve of his sex change operation. Its about living your truth and gender expectations and familial relationships.

MISS CHAZELLES — Written & Directed by Thomas Vernay

Megan Northam in “Miss Chazelles”

Queer romance was at the heart of a couple of these films. In “Miss Chazelles,” it is a forbidden relationship between two young women who, on the outside seem to be rivals, but it’s all a facade. Shot in 4:3 aspect ratio, this one was about rural young women trying to escape the clutches and control of male domination. This one was very well done — raw and authentic and speaks to the plight of young women trying to find themselves and love.

INTERMISSION (“Entracte”) — Written & Directed by Anthony Lemaitre

Ilies Kadri in “Entracte”

“Intermission” was hands-down my favorite short of the festival! I totally saw myself in the character in Yacine on the day when his relationship with cinema changed. It was about the unexpected friendships/connections all because of the power of good cinema. Transformative!

So now on to the 6 features that I got a chance to see during the festival (full disclosure, one (“Working Girls”) I had seen prior to the start of the festival).

WORKING GIRLS (“Filles de joie”) — Written and Directed by Anne Paulicevich and Frédéric Fonteyne

Annabelle Lengronne, Sara Forestier & Noémie Lvovsky in “Filles de joie”

“Working Girls” was raw and gritty and jolting. Filled with abusive relationships, toxic masculinity, family issues, numbing the pain with drugs and the plight of single mothers and immigrants with racial undertones, this film was a lot to take in. And the three female leads (Sara Forestier, Annabelle Lengronne and Noémie Lvovsky) were phenonmenal. It was Belgium’s Oscar submission this year — definitely worth checking out.

YOU DESERVE A LOVER (“Tu mérites un amour”) — Written and Directed by Hafsia Herzi

This one was absolutely my favorite film of the festival — hands down! Full review coming soon…stay tuned!

JUST KIDS — Written & directed by Christophe Blanc

Kacey Mottet Klein & Andrea Maggiulli in “Just Kids”

This was a touching family drama/coming of age story about the relationship between three siblings (Jack 19, Lisa 17 and Mathis 10) who suddenly become orphans after the unexpected death of their father. Little Mathis, played by Andrea Maggiulli definitely steals the show, but the performances we good all around.

BURNING GHOST (“Vif-argent”) — Written and Directed by Stéphane Batut

Thimotée Robart in “Vif-argent”

Juste is a ghost who roams the streets of Paris collecting the last memory of people as he helps them into the afterlife in this ghostly romance. Until one day he is recognized by someone who shouldn’t see him — someone who knew him when he was alive. This one was a little out there but still and interesting watch. It kind of ebb and flowed in terms of really keeping my attention and at times it seemed a little flat.

HEROES DON’T DIE (“Les héros ne meurent jamais”) — Written & Directed by Aude Léa Rapin and Jonathan Couzinié

Jonathan Couzinié & Adéle Haenel in “Les héros ne meurent jamais”

This was another one that was kind of out of the box, but unfortunately not in a way that really engages the viewer or draws you in. I was hoping that this one would be really good because I was excited to see Adéle Haenel again after first being exposed to her in 2019’s “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” at TIFF that year. But alas, this one was just a little bit boring and underwhelming — it was a slow burn that just kind of fizzled out.

FELICITÁ — Written & Directed by Bruno Merle

Rita Merle & Pio Marmaï in “Felicitá”

This was the last film of the festival I caught and I’m so glad that I ended my festival experience on a high note. “Felicitá” was a cute, little family drama about a young girl, Tommy (expertly played by Rita Merle) and her unconventional parents. Tommy lives in her own little world and her parents (Pio Marmaï and Camille Rutherford) live their life unattached and by the seat of their pants. But its not all fun and games as the film shows how one wrong choice can change everything — but at the end of the day, this “crazy” family loves each other and that’s all that really matters. This was an endearing film about how children can change you for the better, coming to terms with your past and being comfortable with being different but knowing at the end of the day, love conquers all. I was initially interested in watching this one because of Pio Marmaï, who I really enjoyed in “Back to Burgundy” and “Un heureux événement.” “Felicitá” had a great cast with amazing chemistry and thoughtful family dramedy at its center, making it well worth the watch.

Check out this video to see all of the winners from the festival.

Overall, I was super impressed with the selections at 2021 MyFrenchFilmFestival (although I would love to see a little bit more diversity on the screen next go around) and can’t wait for next years!