Source: ©Kazak Productions


In August of 2011, a little French film about the bond between a wealthy quadriplegic and his fun-loving caretaker premiered at a festival in a small Southwestern town in France.

Now in its 16th edition, The Angouleme Francophone Film Festival was the first stop for global sensation The Intouchables, which went on to gross more than $445m at the box office worldwide and even get its own US remake with Kevin Hart and Bryan Cranston.

Since then, Angouleme has become a launching pad for French-language titles set to be released in the months ahead and an essential stopover for key French industry players before they hit the global Fall film festival circuit.

The public and professional event was founded in 2008 by Marie-France Briere and Dominique Besnehard, formerly one of France’s top talent agents and the creator-producer of hit series Call My Agent! that is based on his life.

Top talent leave their long summer holidays to head to the scenic spot for an event that features a competition of Francophone titles, a slew of premieres, masterclasses and packed theatres. Last year’s event drew 52,000 people, up 40% from the year before.

Running August 22-27 this year, Angouleme has managed to snag world premieres for French titles that had been tipped to launch at other major festivals like Cannes, Venice or TIFF including Guillaume Nicloux’s festival opener The Baby starring Fabrice Luchini, Yann Gozlan’s Visions with Mathieu Kassovitz and Diane Kruger and Geraldine Danon’s closing night film Flo about famed French female sailor Florence Arthaud.

Films that had been tapped for other more international festivals but weren’t selected may opt to bow in Angoulême. For some films with more commercial appeal, a start at Angouleme is the more strategic move for both a local theatrical boost and to kick off an international career away from the busy Venice and Toronto red carpets where Francophone titles can get lost in sea of A-list Hollywood talent or acclaimed auteurs.

Matthias Weber, the founder of indie 24 25 and a producer of Yann Gozlan’s Visions, told Screen that the festival was the ideal place to launch the film ahead of its September 6 release date in France. “We’re thrilled to be launching Visions at Angouleme - It’s an interesting space to launch many films since there are professionals, press and audiences there.” Weber co-produced with 24 25 partner Thibault Gast and Éric Nebot of Eagle Teams.

Gozlan’s Black Box, also produced by 24 25 with WY co-producing, premiered at the festival in 2021 where it won the audience award and went on to become a box office success selling upwards of 1.18m tickets and earning several nominations at the Cesar awards. 24 25, founded and run by Weber alongside whose Thibault Gast, was purchased by Mediawan earlier this month.

The festival’s end of summer timing ahead of Venice and TIFF in addition to its scenic Southwestern countryside appeal and more casual, intimate atmosphere, also continue to remain a draw for talent and industry folks.

Weber added: “It’s at the end of August, so people are back and industry professionals can see films, talk about their vacations and get an idea of the films coming up in the months ahead.”

The Jolly Forgers

Source: Courtesy of Christmas In July

The Jolly Forgers

The 2023 competition is a hodgepodge of eleven French, Belgian and Quebecois films including premieres of Yolande Moreau’s The Jolly Forgers and Caroline Vignal’s Iris et les Hommes from France, Canadian features Francis Leclerc’s The Dishwasher (Le Plongeur) and Lawrence Cote-Collins’ Bungalow, alongside Cannes films like Stéphanie Di Giusto’s Rosalie, plus Belgian-Congolese co-production Baloji Tshiani’s Augure.

Other titles to watch with international appeal out of the main competition include Nicolas Silhol’s Anti-Squat, Denys Arcand’s Testament, Vincent Perez’s The Edge of the Blade (Une Affaire d’Honneur), Benoit Cohen’s Fanny Ardant-starrer Ma France à Moi with Fanny Ardant and Isabelle Brocard’s 17th century drama Madame de Sevigné with an A-list local cast.

Brussels-based Best Friend Forever co-founder Martin Gondre, who is selling Anti-Squat which hits French theatres on September 6 just after its world premiere at the festival, told Screen. “Angoulême allows us to launch the with momentum, take advantage of all of the French media, give it world premiere event status and start to position the film on the international market.” Plus, adds Gondre, for Francophone territories like Canada, Belgium and Switzerland, “it helps to boost sales.”

“Angoulême is a springboard for our French films and gives them notoriety,” said Alyssia Renard of Diaphana Distribution, which this year is world premiering two films at the festival - Iris et les Hommes and Anti-Squat. Plus, she added: “Everyone in the French film industry is there.”

Nouvelle Vagues

As Angouleme marks its 16th anniversary, French film festivals continue to multiply.

Kicking off the summer was brand new event Nouvelles Vagues International Film Festival in Biarritz than ran June 28-July 2. Despite the ubiquity of festivals, this one managed to grab audience, industry and much media attention for its opening run in the Southwestern seaside city. It gave several Cannes titles a chance to woo younger, non-professional audiences such as Banel & Adama that left Cannes empty-handed, but won two awards in Biarritz and Xiao Bai Chuan’s A Song Sung Blue that earned the fest’s top grand prize.

Banel & Adama_1

Source: Cannes Film Festival

‘Banel & Adama’

Gondre said that the festival platform and award were a boost for Banel & Adama’s film’s theatrical run in France and extra feather in its cap as it continues its post-Cannes world tour. “Launching a film festival in 2023 isn’t easy but I think Nouvelles Vagues proved to have created a new space on the festival circuit,” he said.

BFF is also selling Angela Ottobah’s Paula, a genre film about parental psychological manipulation that held its world premiere in Biarritz.

“Its world premiere at Nouvelles Vagues allowed the film to exist and helps us to launch it in on the international market on our Fall slate thanks to French press first and early momentum,” Gondre said.

The Intouchables directing duo Olivier Toledano and Olivier Nakache’s A Difficult Year premiered at Nouvelles Vagues ahead of what will now be its international premiere in Toronto in September. The Chanel-sponsored event attracted a groundswell of local and international talent including inaugural guest of honour Penelope Cruz, jury president Saeed Roustaee, plus industry-oriented panels featuring execs like MK2’s Elisha Karmitz and Studiocanal’s Thierry Lacaze. Organisers plan to make the event increasingly international in coming years.


Bookending the summer, the elder Deauville American Film Festival, now in its 49th year, continues to attract US names to its Normandy shores. While this year’s event may be lacking US stars promoting what is typically a studio film-driven red carpet, the festival remains a glamorous showcase to preview upcoming films for local audiences.

14 US indie titles including nine first films and eight by female directors will vie in the competition including Sean Price Williams’ The Sweet East and Joanna Arnow’s The Feeling That the Time for Doing Something has Passed that first premiered in Cannes.

Guillaume Canet heads up the high-profile jury, while tributes to Natalie Portman, Peter Dinklage and Jerry Schatzberg that should all boost media attention and draw audiences.

The festival always rolls out its signature red carpet for local titles and this year will premiere Arnaud des Pallières’ period thriller Party of Fools (Captives). Elle Driver is handling international sales for the film, with Wild Bunch Distribution releasing the film in France in February 2024.

Other French festivals

Other smaller yet notable thematic seasonal festivals attracting both local talent and industry execs include musical events the La Baule Cinema and Music Festival (June 28-July 2) and Soeurs Jumelles festival (June 27-July 1) in Rochefort.

The Cabourg Romantic Film Festival (June 14-18) is now in its 37th year and still in the mood for love-focused films and FID Marseille (July 4-9) continues to showcase innovative features from across the globe.

Following the autumn Venice-TIFF-Telluride trifecta, the next event of note for the film industry in France will be the Thierry Fremaux-spearheaded Lumiere Festival in Lyon (October 14-22) that always draws renowned directors from across the globe and showcases a blend of local features and event titles.