Navigating cinema in France
France is a haven for film lovers. From new releases to archived films, you can probably find it in some theatre in Paris. And for those who do not understand French, no fears: follow this guide to find what you're looking for.
The easiest way to get some cinema in English is to pick up a copy of the Pariscope at any newspaper stand - this will give you two pieces of crucial information beyond what films are playing where: first it will tell you which cinemas are showing current English-language films with subtitled (and so in "VO", not dubbed into French); it will also tell you, in a section called "reprises", what films are being on in the dozens of small art-house cinemas that make a point of re-running great old movies (where "old" can mean up to last year).
If you're very serious about your film-going, check out Paris' recently revamped Cinematheque. This venerable institution makes it its business to show seasons of the odd the marvellous and the classic from the world of movies. It also houses a museum.
If you have an excess of iniative or time, you might find yourself in the city that likes to declare itself the birthplace of cinema, Lyon. A quick trip from the centre of Lyon will bring you to a building the Lumière brothers worked in (with the famous factory door not far -- they've marked the spot but the door is gone). This has now been transformed into a museum dedicated to the work of the Lumières.
Paris runs a film festival at the beginning of July which as been going for the past four years. This year there are about 20 cinemas showing films from the line-up and last year saw about 70,000 people through the doors to check out several hundred films. The whole thing kicks off on 3 July at Trocadero across from the Eiffel tower with an open-air screening. The film they're showing this year to open the affair is Paris je t'aime which is made up of 20 short films and has the added utility of being partly in English. That starts at 9.30. If the weather's too good for hiding away in cinemas you can collect an audioguide from the Le Latina cinema (20, rue du Temple, 75004, metro Hôtel de ville / Rambuteau, tel. 01.42.78.47.86) and wander around some of Paris' districts with a commentary by French actresses.
Up at La Villette, you'll find the city's annual open-air cinema festival. This used to be free but appears to have hit the exorbitant price of 2 euros a film. Sarah Elzas reported on the opening of this year's festival and how people feel about the entry charge. All the films are in "VO", (subtitled rather than dubbed), and usually include a healthy dose of English-language films.
A separate event, titled "Cinema au clair de lune" also runs during the summer. This involves showing a series of films in different locations around the city. This can involve a surprising amount of discomfort as you realise that the absence of chairs is a drawback, but it is in the open-air and sometimes you'll find that temporary cinema's location appears in the film itself.
Grainne Harrington was at opening night of the festival this year and reported for Focus on France.
Look at our listing of the English-language films on offer this year, or check out the complete programme (in French).
And if you didn't make it to Cannes this year, read David Page's reports and interviews from the festival.