French Cinema Week: a New French Film Festival Returns to Prague

Film lovers in Prague can go on a journey into the world of French art: Institut français de Prague is to host the 22nd edition of the French Film Festival from November 20 to 27. Some of the entries will be English-friendly.

This year, the festival will take place not only in Prague but also in the regions: in České Budějovice and Ostrava from November 21 to 27, in Hradec Králové from November 24 to 28, and in Brno from November 25 to December 1.

Four Prague cinemas – Lucerna, Svetozor, Edison Film Club, and Kino 35 in the French Institute – will screen recent hits and a few classics with English subtitles as part of the Critics’ Choice, a Tribute to Henri-Georges Clouzot, Short Film Evening, and Focus Adèle Haenel.


Chambre 212/On a Magical Night (2019)

Director: Christophe Honoré

After 20 years of marriage, Maria decides to leave. She moves to the room 212 of the hotel opposite her marital home. From there, Maria can scrutinise her apartment, her husband, her wedding. She wonders if she has made the right decision.

A 2019 French comedy film was premiered on May 19 at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival, where Chiara Mastroianni, a starring actress, won the award for best performance. The film was released in France on October 30, 2019.

21.11. – 18h00 – Kino 35, Štěpánská 35, Praha 1

23.11. – 21h15 – Lucerna – Velký Sál, Vodičkova 704/36, Praha 1

25.11. – 20h30 – Kino Světozor – Velký Sál, Vodičkova 791/41, Praha 1


Clouzot was a French film director, screenwriter and producer. Also known as a “French Hitchcock”, he is best remembered for his work in the thriller film genre, having directed The Wages of Fear and Les Diaboliques, which are recognised as among the greatest films from the 1950s. Clouzot also directed documentary films, including The Mystery of Picasso, which was declared a national treasure by the government of France. All of these films will be screened as part of the tribute to the great film director.

1) The Wages of Fear/Le salaire de la peur (1952)

The Southern Oil Company, which pretty much rules the roost in the impoverished village of Las Piedras, sends out a call for long-distance truck drivers. Southern Oil’s wages of 2,000 dollars per man are, literally, to die for — the drivers are obliged to transport highly volatile nitroglycerine shipments across some of the most treacherous terrains on earth. Through expository dialogue, tense interactions and flashbacks, we become intimately acquainted with the four drivers who sign up for this death-defying mission: Corsican Yves Montand, Italian Folco Lulli, German Peter Van Eyck, and Frenchman Charles Vanel. The first half of the film slowly, methodically introduces the characters and their motivations. The second half — the drive itself — is a relentless, goosebump-inducing assault on the audience’s senses.

The film brought Clouzot international fame—winning both the Golden Bear and the Palme d’Or at the 1953 Berlin Film Festival and Cannes Film Festival, respectively—and allowed him to direct Les Diaboliques.

20.11. – 18h00 – Lucerna – Malý Sál, Vodičkova 704/36, Praha 1

23.11. – 20h00 – Kino Světozor – Malý Sál, Vodičkova 791/41, Praha 1

2) Les Diaboliques/The Devils (1955)

Clouzot’s Les Diabolique is set in a provincial boarding school run by headmaster Michel Delasalle (Paul Meurisse). A ruthless lothario, he becomes the target of a murder plot concocted by his long-suffering invalid wife Christina (Vera Clouzot, the director’s own spouse) and his latest mistress, an icy teacher played by Simone Signoret. A dark, dank thriller with a much-imitated “shock” ending, Diabolique is a masterpiece of Grand Guignol suspense. The simple murder plot goes haywire, and Michel’s corpse disappears, prompting strange rumors of his reappearance which grow more and more substantial as the film careens wildly towards its breathless conclusion.

The film was the 10th highest-grossing film of the year in France, with a total of 3,674,380 admissions and received the 1954 Louis Delluc Prize, a French film award presented annually since 1937.

23.11. – 15h30 – Kino Světozor – Malý Sál, Vodičkova 791/41, Praha 1

24.11. – 17h30 – Lucerna – Malý Sál, Vodičkova 704/36, Praha 1

3) The Mystery of Picasso/Le mystère Picasso (1956)

A filmed record of Pablo Picasso painting numerous canvases for the camera, allowing us to see his creative process at work. Clouzot concentrates upon a real-life enigma in The Mystery of Picasso. While we are treated to several scenes of the legendary Spanish artist at work, explanations of his inspiration are not always forthcoming. As with Pablo Picasso’s paintings, this documentary is meant to be experienced, not understood. The in-progress paintings displayed in The Mystery of Picasso were destroyed by the artist after the film was completed, thus this feature-length documentary has in the past forty years assumed the status of “Must See.”

The Mystery of Picasso was released in France on May 18, 1956. The film won the Special Jury Prize at the 1956 Cannes Film Festival.

22.11. – 18h15 – Lucerna – Malý Sál, Vodičkova 704/36, Praha 1

24.11. – 16h00 – Kino Světozor – Malý Sál, Vodičkova 791/41, Praha 1


The Short Film Night, prepared in collaboration with Unifrance, presents eight short films: Plein Ouest (2019), Per Aspera ad Astra (2019), Sape (2018), La Mouche de bronze (2019), Hurlevent (2019), Crazy Hair (2018), Le Chant d’Ahmed (2018), and Ma Dame au Camélia (2019).

26.11. – 20h30 – Kino Světozor – Velký Sál, Vodičkova 791/41, Praha 1

27.11. – 18h00 – Kino 35, Štěpánská 35, Praha 1


1) In the Name of My Daughter/L’homme qu’on aimait trop (2014)

Director: André Téchiné

Nice, 1976. When her marriage falls apart, Agnes Le Roux (Adèle Haenel) moves back to the South of France from Africa to live with her mother, Renee (Catherine Deneuve), owner of the Palais de La Mediterranee casino in Nice. There, Agnes falls in love with Maurice Agnelet (Guillaume Canet), a lawyer and Renee’s business advisor, who is ten years her senior. Maurice continues to have relationships with other women. Agnes is madly in love with him. As a shareholder in the Palais de la Mediterannee casino, Agnes decides to sell what should have been her inheritance to go it alone. A fixed card game threatens the casino’s financial stability. Someone is trying to intimidate her mother. Behind the scenes hangs the shadow of the mafia and Fratoni, the owner of a rival casino, who wants to take over the Palais de la Mediterannee. Agnelet, who has fallen from grace with Renee, introduces Agnes to Fratoni. Fratoni offers her 3 million francs to vote against her mother in the shareholder’s meeting. Agnes accepts the offer. Renee loses control of the casino. Agnes finds it hard to cope with her betrayal. Maurice also distances himself from her. In November 1977, after a failed suicide attempt, Agnes disappears. Her body is never found. Thirty years on, Maurice Agnelet remains the prime suspect in a murder case with no body and no proof of his guilt. Convinced of his involvement, Renee is prepared to fight to the bitter end to see him put behind bars…

23.11. – 21h00 –  Lucerna – Malý Sál, Vodičkova 704/36, Praha 1

24.11. – 18h15 – Kino Světozor – Malý Sál, Vodičkova 791/41, Praha 1

25.11. – 16h30 – Lucerna – Velký Sál, Vodičkova 704/36, Praha 1

2) Orphan/Orpheline (2017)

Director: Arnaud des Pallières

Screened at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival, the film narrates about four moments in the lives of four female characters. Sandra’s youth as she moves to Paris and has a brush with disaster. Karine’s teenage years, an endless succession of runaways, men and mishaps, because anything is better than her desolate family home. The childhood of a little girl called Kiki, captured as a game of hide and seek turns to tragedy. And finally the grown-up life of Renée, a woman who thought she was safe from her own past. Gradually, we come to understand that these four characters are actually different sides of the same woman.

22.11. – 20h15 – Kino Světozor – Malý Sál, Vodičkova 791/41, Praha 1

23.11. – 16h30 – Edison Filmhub, Jeruzalémská 1321/2, Praha 1

26.11. – 16h00 – Lucerna – Velký Sál, Vodičkova 704/36, Praha 1

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