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Wednesday, June 12, 2002

French cinema on parade

The Yokohama Festival du Film Francais has always been a little bit of heaven for film buffs. Aside from showcasing more than a dozen new French films every June -- all new to Tokyo, some even screening before their French premieres -- Yokohama has always seen the cream of French cinema fly in to promote their works. Actors, actresses, directors and producers are on-site and accessible during the festival, lending it a glow of glamour the Tokyo International Film Festival rarely achieves.

This year, however, to mark its 10th anniversary, the festival has truly outdone itself. Every festival president over the past decade has been invited, so look forward to an autograph session and Q&A on the evening of June 19 featuring Jeanne Moreau, Jean-Jacques Beineix, Isabelle Huppert, Sylvie Vartan, Claude Lelouch, Nathalie Baye and many more.

Oh, and don't forget the films. Master of the agitprop thriller, Costa-Gavras ("Missing," "Z"), is back with a film exploring anti-Semitism and the Catholic church. "Amen," features Matthieu Kassovitz as a young priest who tries to bring the Holocaust to the attention of Pope Pius XII. Queen of controversy, Catherine Breillat, follows up on the success of "Romance" with a film titled "Sex Is Comedy," with Anne "Nikita" Parillaud playing a director modeled loosely on Breillat herself.

Benoit Jacquot brings an imaginatively conceived version of Puccini's opera "Tosca," featuring husband and wife Roberto Alagna and Angela Gheorghiu in the lead roles. And the ever-popular Claude Lelouch brings a romance/musical/thriller titled "And Now . . . Ladies and Gentleman." This one was the closing film at Cannes this year and features Jeremy Irons as a jewel thief opposite Patricia Kaas as a nightclub jazz singer.

The 10th Yokohama French Film Festival runs June 19-23 at Yokohama Pacifico. Eighteen films will be screened. Tickets are 1,200 yen in advance, 1,400 yen on the day of the show, except for the opening film (June 19, 7 p.m.), which is 1,800 yen in advance, 2,000 yen on the day. For further information, visit the festival Web site at www.unifrance.jp/yokohama/ or call (045) 671-9911. Selected screenings: "Amen," June 22, 6 p.m.; "Sex Is Comedy," June 23, 3:15 p.m.; "Tosca," June 21, 8:15, p.m.; and "And Now . . . Ladies and Gentleman," June 23, 8:15 p.m.

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