Today marks the start of the 49thLa Rochelle Film Festival (FEMA), a non-competitive event that pulls off the enviable feat of being both highly popular (with almost 87,000 admissions taken in 2019) and extremely demanding in terms of artistic quality. Standing out on this year’s menu, from 25 June-4 July, are around 200 films, and tribute will be paid (in their presence and with screenings of all of the features in their filmographies) to four filmmakers who all took part in the Berlinale competition with their most recent works earlier this year: France’s Xavier Beauvois (with the premiere of Drift Away [+]), Romania’s Radu Jude (with his Golden Bear winner, Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn [+]), and Lebanese duo Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige (with Memory Box [+]). There will also be tributes to French composer Gabriel Yared (with four films) and to late Italian composer Ennio Morricone (on the closing night).
Notable among the retrospectives are those dedicated to Italy’s Roberto Rossellini (with 18 films), France’s Maurice Pialat (11 films) and René Clément (six films), as well as Mexico’s Roberto Gavaldón (five films). The programme will also offer a deep dive into “The Essential Michael Cimino”, a “Day With Sigourney Weaver”, a section comprising 16 re-released classics and rarities, a selection of six films by women directors who rose to prominence in the Critics’ Week (to tie in with the 60th anniversary of the Cannes parallel section), an animation-related focus on stop motion, and an exploration of childhood in silent movies.
The firm favourites of the year making up the “Ici et ailleurs” (lit. “Here and Elsewhere”) strand include 38 features, among which we find The World After Us [+] by Louda Ben Salah–Cazanas, Luzzu [+] by Malta’s Alex Camilleri (which won an award at the Sundance Film Festival), Atomic Summer [+] by Gaël Lépingle, February [+] by Bulgaria’s Kamen Kalev (which was blessed with the 2020 Cannes Official Selection label), The Man Who Sold His Skin [+] by Tunisia’s Kaouther Ben Hania, This Is Not a Burial, It’s a Resurrection [+] by Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese (from Lesotho), Theo and the Metamorphosis [+] by Damien Odoul, the Belgian production Madly in Life [+] by Anne Sirot and Raphaël Balboni, and documentaries of the calibre of We [+] by Alice Diop, Mr Bachmann and His Class [+] by Maria Speth, The Truffle Hunters [+] by Michael Dweck and Gregory Kershaw, and The Most Beautiful Boy in the World [+] by Kristina Lindstrom and Kristian Petri.