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Vive la France!

As the editorial team at Screen surveyed 2012’s highs and lows and game-changing news stories, one trend that struck us was the huge success of French films abroad in 2012.

The Artist kickstarted 2012 by winning five Oscars; after that, the sleeper hit of the year was Eric Toledano and Olivier Nakache’s culture-clash dramedy Intouchables [pictured], which had taken $185.1m across Europe as of December 13, adding to its 2011 haul of $152m. In Germany, as of press time, Intouchables’ $82.9m tally leads the yearly chart ahead of local hits and blockbusters such as The Dark Knight Rises. In Spain, it earned a whopping $21.6m.

In the US - where The Weinstein Company (TWC) worked its magic - Intouchables earned a steady $13.1m, making it the year’s top-grossing foreign-language film. In September, it became the most-viewed French-language film in history outside of France. Its worldwide haul is now at more than $420m, for a film budgeted at an estimated $11m. It also represents France in the Oscar race and is a Golden Globe nominee.

Encouragingly, Intouchables is not the only Gallic hit of 2012. Jacques Audiard’s Rust And Bone has earned more than $19m outside of the US and has netted Marion Cotillard a Golden Globe nomination. Austrian director Michael Haneke’s French-language Amour, the winner of the Palme d’Or at Cannes, is perhaps the most critically acclaimed film of the year.

The crop of hot French titles to open internationally in 2013 include Christian Vincent’s gastronomic crowd-pleaser Haute Cuisine (acquired by TWC); Régis Roinsard’s 1950s-set romantic comedy Populaire; Omar Sy-starring buddy-cop film On The Other Side Of The Tracks (also with TWC on board); Christophe Gans’ Beauty And The Beast; Agnes Jaoui’s fairy tale-themed Under The Rainbow; Michel Gondry’s return to French-language work with Mood Indigo; Eric Rochant’s thriller Mobius, starring Jean Dujardin and Cécile De France; Asghar Farhadi’s untitled Paris-set drama starring Bérénice Bejo; Bruno Dumont’s Camille Claudel, starring Juliette Binoche; and Nicolas Bary’s The Scapegoat, also starring Bejo.

These films and many more will be hot titles at the forthcoming Rendez-vous with French Cinema in Paris.

French talents are also being courted to work on English-language projects. Guillaume Canet is directing his first US feature, crime thriller Blood Ties; Marion Cotillard’s many international roles include 2012’s The Dark Knight Rises; The Artist’s Jean Dujardin will appear in Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf Of Wall Street and George Clooney’s The Monuments Men.

Audiences flocking to see a film not in their own language may enjoy it so much they’ll perhaps take a chance on other foreign-language fare. And that’s great news in a tough climate for specialty films.

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