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Tallinn Black Nights honors classic French comedy Les tontons Flingeurs and much more


Monsieur Gangster  Les tontons flingueurs, 1963
Director: Georges Lautner. Starring: Lino Ventura, Bernard Blier, Francis Blanche

Tallinn Black Nights to make reverence to classic French comedy

Celebrating the 20th anniversary, Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival (aka PÖFF) has chosen France as the country of this year's focus. Taking place on 11-27 November, the North European festival will have a considerable French industry presence with many top sales and distribution companies, such as Le Pacte, Wild Bunch, Gaumont, Memento, MK2 attending the the festival's industry event Industry@Tallinn, run in co-operation with Baltic Event. Distribution company Eye on Films is presenting their 12 titles as industry screenings.

As a nod to French cinema, the festival has curated a retrospective programme In Focus: a reverence to Classic French Comedy which will screen 10 French comedies that span from Jaqcues Tati’s directorial debut The Big Day (1949) until Michel Hazanavicius’ spy comedy OSS 117: Lost in Rio (2009). The French focus is organised in co-operation with the French Institute office. In 2015 the country of focus was Georgia.

Anne Chounet-Cambas, the directress of French Institute, commented:
At the beginning of the 20th century, the comedy was not viewed as a serious part of cinema, but it was actually thanks to the comedies that a significant new art form grew out of the moving images. For the audience it was easier to identify themselves with the characters of comedy films – not all went according to the plans and life was not always beautiful for comic characters, but just being able to laugh at it made everything easier for the people.

French comedies touch on social issues, and their peculiarity is the ability to make fun of class divisions and the integration. The characters, played by the brilliant comedian Louis de Funès, have become the foundations of social comedy. The protagonist of French famous comedies is often a so-called „stranger“ who has been dropped into the religious, ethnic or geographic community and who represents a potential source of problems. When the first astonishment, adjustment difficulties and failures are over, at the end it’s always concluded that despite the differences it’s totally possible to live next to each other and actually it’s even very nice.

The French laugh gladly at themselves („OSS 117: Lost in Rio“) and love to use contrasting characters („The Tall Blond Man with One Black Shoe“), word games and crazy dialogues („Mr. Gangster“). Many of the comedies have become the face of contemporary French cinema („Amélie“), there are a myriad of remakes in America and lots of them have been awarded, but most importantly - they have entertained generations around the world. I am pleased to introduce to you a retrospective of 10 French films, which gives a premium overview of the French comedy, beginning with „La Grande Vadrouille“ (literally: "The Great Stroll") which is celebrating its 50th anniversary – a movie that stayed the greatest hit of the French cinema for 42 years.


The Big Day
Jour de fête, 1949
Director: Jacques Tati. Starring: Jacques Tati, Guy Decomble, Paul Frankeur

Jacques Tati’s feature directorial debut is a priceless showcase for his comedic talents, as he plays a mailman attempting to streamline delivery in his small town. He soon finds his attempts at modernization and a coinciding Bastille Day celebration don’t mix.
The film was awarded for the best script in Venice in 1949.

Monsieur Gangster  Les tontons flingueurs, 1963
Director: Georges Lautner. Starring: Lino Ventura, Bernard Blier, Francis Blanche

On his deathbed, the Mexican made his childhood friend, Fernand Naudin (Lino Ventura, one of France’s most beloved character stars from the 1950s), to promice to watch over his interests and his daughter Patricia. Fernand discovers the Mexican has had shady business. But, flanked by a curious notary and a bodyguard, Fernand immediately imposes its law. However, the beautiful Patricia has reserved a few surprises!
French comedy super-classic, with still-quoted argot-heavy dialogue keeping the action both suspenseful and parodic.
Fantômas, 1964
Director: André Hunebelle. Starring: Jean Marais, Louis de Funès, Mylène Demongeot

„Fantômas“ is a 1964 French film starring Jean Marais as the arch villain with the same name opposite Louis de Funès as the earnest but out classed commissaire Paul Juve. In the film Juve teams up with journalist Fandor, also played by Marais, trying to catch Fantômas but never quite succeeding. It was France’s answer, in 1964, to the James Bond phenomenon that swept the world at around the same time. It is the first film of a trilogy and Fantômas became extremely successful in Europe, the Soviet Union and Japan.
That Man from Rio 
L’homme de Rio, 1964
Director: Philippe de Broca. Staring: Jean-Paul Belmondo, Françoise Dorléac, Jean Servais

„That Man from Rio“ is a 1964 adventure film directed by Philippe de Broca and starring Jean-Paul Belmondo and Françoise Dorléac. It was the first film to be made by the French subsidiary of United Artists, Les Productions Artistes Associés. The film was a huge success with a total of 4,800,626 admissions in France, becoming the 5th highest earning film of the year.
This fast-moving spoof of James Bond-type movies features striking location photography of Rio de Janeiro, Oscar Niemeyer’s nascent Brasília, and Paris. At the 37th Academy Awards the film was nominated for the Oscar for Best Writing, Story and Screenplay.


La grande vadrouille
Director: Gérard Oury. Starring: Bourvil, Louis de Funès, Claudio Brook

„La Grande Vadrouille“ with Bourvil and Louis de Funès is a 1966 French comedy film about two ordinary Frenchmen helping the crew of a Royal Air Force bomber shot down over Paris to make their way through German-occupied France.
For over forty years, until the release of „Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis“ in 2008, „La Grande Vadrouille“ was the most successful French film in France, topping the box office with over 17,200,000 cinema admissions.

The Tall Blond Man with One Black Shoe 
Le grand blond avec une chaussure noire, 1972
Director: Yves Robert. Starring: Pierre Richard, Bernard Blier, Jean Rochefort 

Naive violonist François is mistakenly taken as a spy by the French Secret Service. Unwittingly the target of assassins and chief Toulouse's plot to trap another agent, François tries to muddle through his otherwise unremarkable life as it falls apart before him.
Elegantly filmed and accompanied by a lively score, „The Tall Blond Man With One Black Shoe“ is a delightfully outrageous romp that has taken its place among the great French comedy classics of the 1970s.

La chèvre, 1981
Director: Francis Veber. Starring: Pierre Richard, Gérard Depardieu, Pedro Armendáriz Jr.

President Bens’ daughter has disappeared somewhere in South America. Campana (Depardieu), a private detective, comes back empty handed from an extensive search of the continent. There is only one thing left for Bens to do: send François Perrin (Richard), a man as jinxed as his daughter, to find her! So the unlikely pair starts off on their mission: the straight-laced Campana and Perrin with his burden of bad luck and his truckload of unflappable optimism.

The Dinner Game 
Le dîner de cons, 1998
Režissöör Francis Veber, osades Jacques Villeret, Thierry Lhermitte, Francis Huster

Pierre Brochant is playing a curious game with his friends: The Dinner Game. On Wednesdays, everyone brings a fool and the one who found the most spectacular is the winner. Tonight, Brochant is convinced he has found the gem, a world class fool – François Pignon, employee of the Ministry of Finance and passionate about reduced models made of matchsticks.
Le fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain, 2001
Director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet. Starring: Audrey Tautou, Mathieu Kassovitz, Rufus

A painfully shy waitress working at a tiny Paris cafe, Amélie (Audrey Tautou) makes a surprising discovery and sees her life drastically changed for the better. From then on, Amelie dedicates herself to helping others find happiness in the most delightfully unexpected ways. But will she have the courage to do for herself what she has done for others?
The film received critical acclaim and was a major box office success. Amélie won Best Film at the European Film Awards; it also won four César Awards (including Best Film and Best Director), two BAFTA Awards (including Best Original Screenplay), and was nominated for five Academy Awards.

OSS 117: Lost in Rio
OSS 117: Rio ne répond plus, 2009
Director: Michel Hazanavicius. Starring: Jean Dujardin, Louise Monot, Alex Lutz

Hubert Bonisseur de la Bath, aka OSS 117, is the French spy considered by his superiors to be the best in the business. The year is 1967 – he’s been sent on a mission to Rio de Janeiro, to find a former high-ranking Nazi who went into exile in South America after the war. His eventful investigation takes him all across Brazil, from Rio to Brasilia and the Iguazu Falls, accompanied by a charming Mossad agent who is also looking for the Nazi. The man is charming, and so is the young woman. Set to the strains of bossa nova, their tale is by turns an adventure and a love story.





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About Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival

Started in 1997, the Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival has grown into one of the biggest film festivals in Northern Europe and busiest regional industry platforms, hosting more than 1000 guests and industry delegates and over 160 journalists. The festival screens around 250 features and more than 300 shorts and animations and sees an attendance of 80 000 people annually. In 2017 the festival was covered in 71 languages with a potential global media audience of over 1.1 billion people.

As of 2014 the festival holds the FIAPF accreditation for holding an international competition programme which puts the festival into the so- called A-category of film festivals, alongside other 14 festivals in the world (including Cannes, Berlinale, Venice, Karlovy Vary, San Sebastian, Shanghai, Tokyo etc).  

Black Nights has an umbrella structure with two sub-festivals PÖFF Shorts and youth and children's film festival Just Film taking place concurrently with the main festival,
two off-season festivals - Haapsalu Horror and Fantasy Film Festival and Tartu Love Film Festival - and a fully-fledged film industry platform Industry@Tallinn, organised jointly with the Baltic Event Co-production market.

Black Nights Film Festival 16 Nov - 2 Dec
PÖFF Shorts 20 Nov - 25 Nov
Just Film 16 Nov - 2 Dec
Industry@Tallinn & Baltic Event 26 Nov - 30 Nov



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