Fahim, the Little Chess Prince tells the incredible life-story of the young chess genius, Fahim Mohammad. As an illegal immigrant from Bangladesh who arrived in France with his father, his road to becoming a National Chess Champion of France is filled with twists and turns, with downfalls and hilarity. Through director Pierre François Martin-Laval’s artful directing, the audience is taken on a touching journey along with Fahim. Difficult questions are tackled, such as the situation of refugees in France as he struggles to settle in Cergy. He does not only battles his way to victory in chess: Fahim also fights voluntary mistranslations at the prefecture and racist prejudices.
To direct the movie, Pierre François Martin-Laval took interesting stances by asking people who were not actors to play the main characters. Assad Ahmed, cast as Fahim, did not speak French at the beginning of the project. Having also fled from Bangladesh, his evolution intertwined with Fahim's. Mizanur Rahaman plays Nura, Fahim's father, and faces a similar flirt with reality on set. In one of the most mesmerizing scenes, he is told to play not as Nura but as himself, Mizanur - as if he was about to be separated from his son. The result is absolutely heartbreaking.
Through the lenses of another director, this story may have been inappropriate to show to kids. However, here, the natural wit and mischievous punchlines of Fahim and his friends transform it into a family-friendly film. The resilience and support system of his father Nura, his friends, the chess coach Sylvain and his bold crush Mathilde move young viewers and their elders. Fahim, the Little Chess Prince will be sure to inspire, and warm the hearts of all.
Marseilles-based writer-director Robert Guédiguian excels in producing intimate, politically-driven dramas. He enjoys working with the same actors in different political contexts and character types. For instance, Jean-Pierre Darroussin goes from a cynical right-wing intellectual in The House by the Sea to here a more familiar role as a working joe facing up to hard times. Through its overview of socioeconomic precarity, this new movie confirms the winning recipe.
Gloria Mundi starts with the birth of a baby, Gloria. Yet there is no time for ooh and aah. The hope she represents is offset by her environment, a world in which moral values and personal ties have become brutishly devalued. Daniel, an ex-convict, travels to meet his newborn granddaughter and reconnect with his estranged family… We appreciated how the story sprouted and kept politics at the center of the intrigue.
Official Selection – In Competition, Venice International Film Festival, 2019
In Happy Birthday, we get to see the characters' best and worst sides during the summertime birthday of materfamilias Andrea, played by Catherine Deneuve. For instance, Andrea's daughter, Claire, gives a dramatic entrance that is only the beginning of her need of attention. Yet as the story unfolds, one can only realize that she is more than a careless member of this family... The complexity of her relationship with her mother and her siblings allows us to understand the depth of these characters.
As for Andrea, we particularly enjoyed the parallel between her and Vincent (Cedric Kahn's character), although they are moved by different motives. Cedric Kahn's talent as both a director and an actor is hard to dismiss. Aside from the characters' story, his use of metadrama is effective. You will also recognize the comforting-irritating features that your own family gatherings can have... He does not embellish the truth: Cedric Kahn tells it like it is, and the only artifices are the characters' dramatic nature.
How to Become an Astronaut
Thomas Pesquet is the youngest French astronaut in history and is thus seen by French people as a modern day hero. Selected for Proxima, a six-month mission on the International Space Station, he worked on the weightless research laboratory. Jürgen Hansen and Pierre-Emmanuel Le Goff, the directors of How to Become an Astronaut, previously worked on a multi-format project with him in 16 Levers de Soleil which included two documentaries and a VR experience in the skin of Thomas Pesquet.
For this new project, the film looks back to the training before his Proxima mission. Did you know that while Thomas Pesquet was selected in May 2009, his mission only started in 2017? This documentary illustrates the importance of gradual physical and mental preparations for astronauts before their missions. It gives viewers a precious opportunity to align their emotions with Thomas's personal journey. The film also reveals Thomas Pesquet's talent on his new mission as an actor.
Three Days and a Night
Can one truly live and survive after having committed a murder? Between noir fiction and thriller, this movie is sure to play with your nerves. It reminds us of a New Wave filmmaker: Claude Chabrol, who also enjoyed setting is movies in villages dense with secrets. Based upon the homonymous best-selling novel by Pierre Lemaître, Three Days and a Life presents the deceptions of a cotton-wool-wrapped microcosm.
This provincial film noir is set during Christmas 1999, in the Ardennes. In a small and seemingly safe village, the life of a young boy named Antoine is devastated by three tragic events. Innocence and guilt keep on meeting through lies, omissions, hidden love and double crossing… Be ready to be unsettled by this thought-provoking work of genius.