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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Feast Your Eyes on a Month of French Films

The French, who know what they are talking about when it comes to the big screen, have decided to give Russia something up-market of Hollywood. "I have nothing against American films," said Pascale Just, assistant director of the French Cultural Center, delicately. "But the ones that come here are not always the most interesting." So the Cultural Center, along with the French Embassy and the Russian State Film Company (Gosfilm), have shipped in cinema the way cinema should be -- French. Friday night marked the kick-off of the Month of French Films festival, which will be inaugurated by a showing of Eric Rohmer's 1992 release, "Winter Tale." From now until the month's end, the Illuzion movie theater will screen 86 films, ranging from Jean Cocteau's early flights of fancy to Patrice Leconte's 1993 comedy, "Tango." The collaboration is fueled, in part, by the French Foreign Ministry, which has made aggressive efforts to share the country's cinematic wealth, said Elfrida Filippi, the French Embassy's attach? for audiovisual affairs. Not only has the government encouraged the circulation of quality films abroad, but France has sponsored 25 collaborations between Russian and French filmmakers. France's passion for the art of film can only be rivaled by Russia's, Filippi said. "We are promoting a country through cinema." The festival offers a number of popular comedies and romances, but the program also has a educational side: The films are broken down into tributes to various directors, actors, and cinematic eras. "Orpheus" and "Beauty and the Beast" highlight the career of Jean Cocteau, the celebrated French poet, dramaturg and director. The director Marcel Carnet is represented by no less than five films, spanning from 1942 ("The Evening Visitors") to 1969 ("The Young Wolves"). The post-World War II era offers six films, and 10 dramas and comedies come from the 1980s and 1990s. The bulk of foreign films now circulating through Russia are illegal bootlegs, pirated and smuggled into the country with no regard for international copyright. Most-Media, the distributor coordinating the festival, works on a strictly legal basis, said the company's director, Zinaida Shatina. Ceiling-high stacks of film cases are under lock and key in the basement of her central Moscow office. Although Most-Media has dealt mainly with European productions, Shatina said the company has no Continental bias, and plans to represent the high end of American cinema as well. Recently, they purchased the rights to Jane Campion's "The Piano," Steven Spielberg's Oscar-winning "Schindler's List" and Pedro Almodovar's brand-new film "Kika." Most-Media plans to collaborate with the Illuzion on similar festivals for a range of different countries. They started with France in homage to the nation's tradition of talented actors and directors, and to Bastille Day, on July 14. All showings will take place at the Kinoteatr Illuzion. Prices vary according to the movie. Although most films are dubbed in Russian, organizers plan to screen films in their original French on Monday nights. The theater is at Kotelnicheskaya Naberezhnaya 1/15. Nearest metro: Taganskaya. Tel. 227-4339. Month of French Film highlights: Oscar Winners ?"A Man and a Woman" (Claude Lelouch, 1966). Stars Anouk Aim?e and Jean-Louis Trintignant. A romance about a young widow and widower who fall in love. Won the Oscar for Best Foreign Film. July 1, 12 P.M. and 7:45 P.M. ?"My Uncle" (Jacques Tati, 1958). July 13, 12 P.M. and 2 P.M. ?"Indochine" (R?gis Wargnier, 1992) Stars Catherine Deneuve and Louis Gardel. This melodrama -- set against the backdrop of revolution in Indochina -- explores the complex love of two women for a young officer. Won an Oscar for Best Foreign Film. July 14, 6:45 P.M. Films of Jean Cocteau ?"Orpheus" (1959). Stars Jean Marais and Maria Casares. A compelling allegory set in modern times, as the poet Marais encounters the spellbinding princess of Death. July 1, 1:45 and 3:30 P.M. ?"Beauty and the Beast" (1946). Stars Jean Marais and Josette Day. July 6, 2 and 3:45 P.M. Classics by Marcel Carnet ?"A Strange Kind of Drama" (1937). July 4, 2, 3:45 and 7:30 P.M. ?"Evening Visitors" (1942) July 8, 2:30; 4:30 P.M. ?"Th?r?se Raquin" (1953). July 11, 12 P.M; 2 P.M. ?"Children in Paradise" (1953). Stars Jean-Louis Barrault and Arletty. Tells the story of a rowdy theater troupe in 19th-century France. Wise, witty and captivating. July 14, 1:45 P.M. ?"The Young Wolves" (1969). July 18, 5 and 7 P.M.