Festival guests include Nathalie Baye, Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi Jalil Lespert and Vincent Macaigne.

Michael Kohlhaas by Arnaud de Pallieres was awarded best film at the 15th Athens Francophone film festival (March 19-26) backed by Unifrance.

The award sponsored by the French public channel TV5 and the Athens Municipality carries a purse of €9,000 to back the release of the film in Greece by Seven Films and Spentzos Films.

A special mention was given to Bruno Dumont’s Camille Claudel 1915, starring Juliette Binoche in the eponymous role.Videorama Films/Odeon acquired for Greece.

The five-member jury was comprised of the French-Greek actor George Corraface (president), Greek film producer Fenia Kosovitsa, French film scholar and director Antoine Danis, Greek born-French resident composer Olga Kouklaki and Greek film critic Yiannis Zoumpoulakis.

The audience award, backed by Fischer Breweries with €6,000, went to Marion Vernoux’s Les Beaux Jours starring Fanny Ardant. Produced by the French outlet Les Films du Kiosque, the film will be distributed in Greece and Cyprus by Feelgood Entertainment.

This year festival’s godmother French star Nathalie Baye — who has worked with such directors as Francois Truffaut, Jean Luc Godard, Alain Resnais and Steven Spielberg — received a career award and introduced a selection of her films.

Another tribute was made to Quebec cinema, including Denis Cote’s celebrated Vic +Flo Saw a Bear.   

The festival opened with the French box office hit Yves Saint Laurent starring Pierre Niney and Guillaume Galienne. Director Jalil Lespert  was present at the opening gala to introduce the film which was aquired for distribution in Greece by Feelgood Entertainment.

Feelgood also acquired local rights for the closing film, Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi’s Un chateau en Italie. The director-actress was present at the closing and awards gala.

The nine-film competition section included Cedric Klapisch’s Casse-tete Chinois, Christoph Gans’ La Belle et la Bete, Sabastian Pilote’s Le Demantelement,  Katel Quillevere’s Suzanne and Christophe Offenstein’s En Solitaire.

The noncompetitive Francophone Cinema Panorama,  showcasing 16 films from French-speaking directors and countries, was spearheaded by such tittles as Bernard Tavernier’s latest Quai d’ Orsay, Serge Bozon’s Tip Top starring Isabelle Huppert, Riad Sattouff’s Jacky au royaume des filles starring Charlotte Gainsbourg and Michel Hazanavicius and Rebecca Zlotowski’s Grand Central starring Lea Seydoux and Tahar Rahim.        

Standing out among the side events were:

  • an homage to the young wave of French cinema comprised of five films. Vincent Macaigne participated with producer Emmanuel Chaumet in the roundtable on the French young cinema.

  • a five-title homage to the highlights of  “Images of the 21st Century,” the Documentary branch of the Thessaloniki International Film Festival, a  long standing  partner of the FFA together with the Greek Film Centre.   

  • a new section set up with another traditional FFA partner, the Athens International Film Festival-Opening Nights, dedicated to introduce primary and secondary school pupils to cinema culture and art.  

In spite of the ongoing financial local crisis and the ensuing  decrease in admission, Greek distributors continue aquiring each year approximately 40 French  films released theatrically in the country.

After Athens the festival programme is repeated March 27-April 2 in Thessaloniki.