French Film Festival opens Thursday at the Prytania

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Courtesy of New Orleans Film Society

The festival opens with “The Crime Is Mine,” a comedy by director François Ozon.

The 2024 French Film Festival opens at the Prytania Theatre Uptown on Thursday (Feb. 22) and continues through Feb. 28.  Virtual streaming begins Thursday and continues through March 3.

The festival lineup includes 24 narrative, documentary and short films produced in Belgium, Canada, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, South Africa, Switzerland and the U.S. as well as France. 

And close to home, the festival will spotlight special screenings of two newly restored films — entirely in Cajun French — from Louisiana filmmaker Glen Pitre. 

“Now in its 27th year, the French Film Festival continues to grow and evolve, and this year’s program fully encapsulates the diversity of French-language cinema from around the globe, including films made right here in Louisiana,” said Clint Bowie, artistic director of the New Orleans Film Society, in a press release. “It includes work from industry veterans like Claire Simon and François Ozon while also introducing audiences to new voices from directors like Baraka Rahmani and Chasah and Charliese West.” 

The opening night film will be The Crime is Mine (Mon Crime) by director François Ozon. Ozon’s crime comedy follows struggling actress Madeleine (Nadia Terezkiewicz) and her best friend Pauline (Rebecca Marder), an unemployed lawyer, living in a cramped flat and owing five months’ rent. This marks Ozon’s eighth film at the French Film Festival. Others screened include Summer of 85, Double Lover and In the House. 

Closing out the in-person portion of the festival on Feb. 28 is Menus-Plaisirs – Les Troisgros, regarded as one of the greatest food films ever made. This four-hour opus from 93-year-old legendary documentarian Frederick Wiseman takes an insider’s look at a French restaurant that has held the top Michelin star rating of three stars for more than 50 years and over four generations. 

Courtesy of New Orleans Film Society

“Menus-Plaisirs – Les Troisgros” is regarded as one of the greatest food films ever made.

Louisiana is represented by three films within the French Film Festival program this year, including director Glen Pitre’s newly restored French Cajun films $8.50 a Barrel (Huit Piastres et Demie!) and Yellow Fever (La Fievre Jaune).

After the films were released in the late 1970s, film critic Roger Ebert described Glen as “a legendary American regional director, a shrimper’s son who graduated from Harvard and went back home to Louisiana to make movies. His early films were shot in the Cajun dialect. [He is] arguably the world’s only Cajun-language filmmaker.”

The restoration of these two rare films shines a light on the expressiveness of the Cajun language and culture. Both films look at historical events in Louisiana’s history: the shrimp war of 1938 and the yellow fever epidemic in 1897, both centering the French Cajun community and language. 

Courtesy of New Orleans Film Society

Louisiana filmmaker Glen Pitre’s “$8.50 a Barrel” was shot entirely in Cajun French. Pitre will take part in conversations following the screenings.

Glen Pitre, who is a “Chevalier de l’ordre des arts et des lettres” — a prestigious order given by the French cultural ministry to distinguished artists in the fields of cinema, literature, arts, and fashion — will take part in conversations following screenings of each of the two restored films. 

The films were believed lost forever to floodwaters during Hurricane Katrina, but with a grant from the Golden Globes Foundation to IndieCollect, a Manhattan non-profit that specializes in restoring classics of American Independent Cinema, both movies are were restored from original film negatives recently uncovered in the Louisiana State Archives, the UCLA Film Archives, and private collections.

Courtesy of New Orleans Film Society

“Yellow Fever” recreates a story passed down in director Glen Pitre’s family about what happened when his great-grandfather broke quarantine during an 1897 epidemic.

Additionally, the festival will host the world premiere of the short film Heritage, by the  Louisiana-based directors Chasah West and Charliese West. Alumni of the New Orleans Film Society’s Emerging Voices Directors Lab, the West sisters wrote and directed this story of a teenager, disinterested in her Louisiana Creole heritage, who finds herself rethinking her culture after an encounter with a French-speaking visitor. 

Courtesy of New Orleans Film Society

The festival will host the world premiere of Louisiana-shot “Heritage.”

Visit to see the full lineup and to purchase festival passes. All pass types (All Access Pass, Virtual Pass, and Student + Teacher Pass) are available.

The nonprofit New Orleans Film Society, which presents the French Film Festival, also produces the Oscar-qualifying New Orleans Film Festival annually in the fall. 

Courtesy of New Orleans Film Society

The documentary “Godard Cinema” examines the career of groundbreaking director Jean-Luc Godard.

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