“Ensemble” is the theme of this year’s Cork French Film Festival, that runs from the 3rd to the 10th of March inclusive in the Southern Capital.
Organised by the Cork Alliance Française branch, the Cork French Films Festival is marking its 30th year of existence with a line-up of films that is bang up to date offering a varied and contemporary selection representing the best in what many regard as the world’s greatest cinematic nation.
At the head of this year’s festival is a relative newcomer – both to the Alliance Française de Cork and to Ireland itself. Jean-Christophe Trentinella arrived in Ireland from the Montpellier area in the South of France via a long and circuitous route that has taken in a number of countries around the globe. For him, this has been as much a cultural voyage as a physical one and this year’s CFFF promises to offer plenty of the former.
Such ideas are brought into even sharper focus, of course, in the context of the UK exiting the EU in just over a month’s time, as well as the recent development where Ireland is moving closer culturally to France by becoming an observer member of the Francophonie.
“There are many layers to the ties between Ireland and France,” says Jean-Christophe rather philosophically, “including cultural and historical… in many ways, the role of the Alliance Française is to bring together all these different aspects. Obviously, with Brexit coming, there’s the interplay of the economic links because a number of Irish businesses are looking to France to develop new markets.”
And this, says Trentinella, is where cultural links and engagement are so important. Without understanding one another’s cultures and language, it is never going to be easy to do business. From his own point of view, he learned English and travelled to many English-speaking countries to help communicate his own culture first and foremost. The notion of learning about the Anglo-American culture and language was a secondary point. In a similar way, people who dive in and explore some more about French culture will find that it is only then that business opportunities really begin to open up.
“I think that this kind of thing works in both directions… with the apps that we have today, it has never been easier to communicate without having to learn a language. With our always-connected devices, we can have instantaneous translations for conversations.
“But, you will also have people who take the longer road to learn the language. It is, of course, much more than learning the language because you learn the culture as well. Through the culture, come the connections…
“It’s interesting because when people come to the Alliance Française, they initially come to learn the language but what really makes them stay is the way that they bond around the culture and of getting to know about certain ways of doing things; they form connections around people who share the same approach… for example, there is the appreciation of food that is often associated with France. This goes way beyond food – it’s a way to relate to life and food is just one form of enjoyment. Another way is by conversation and French people love having very long and deep conversations! You can see plenty of it in French cinema.
“So, if you’re doing business in France, you have to learn these particular ways that people do business that are tied to the culture of the country. For example, in France you will only really start to talk about business at the coffee stage of a meal. This is after the meal because 90% of the meal will be about creating a connection and not talking about business. In, say, the US, you start talking business immediately. That’s a very different approach and it shows how culture and business are intertwined.”
The festival kicks off with the Le Grand Bain (Sink or Swim) – a big commercial success in France last year and one that came away with just one award (best supporting actor) after having received multiple nominations at this year’s César awards. It sets a humorous and humane note that is found throughout the strong selection and which finishes up on March 10th with the showing of the 1990 classic Cyrano de Bergerac. This comes after an afternoon showing of Emmanuel Finkiel’s La Douleur (Memoir of War). It’s another multiple César nominated work and Finkiel himself is the Festival’s guest of honour when he presents a Masterclass workshop at UCC immediately following the movie.
For further information on the CFFF, see the official website here or go directly to this link to download a pdf of the festival programme and enjoy a rare journey into the wonderful world of French cinema.