The 27th edition of the French Film Festival UK will open on 1 November 2019, the day after the UK’s projected withdrawal from the European Union, taking place in over 35 towns and cities across the UK including Gloucester Guildhall. The Festival screens the crème de la crème of French-language cinema from France, Belgium, Switzerland, Quebec, Africa and elsewhere in a spirit of friendship and collaboration with colleagues and film-makers across Europe and beyond.

Paradoxically given the mood of current times, the Europe-friendly Festival began in a spirit of optimism in December 1992, the same year Edinburgh hosted the Summit of the European Council. Funding was awarded for an arts festival giving a cultural reference to the occasion – and the French Film Festival was one of the beneficiaries. Almost three decades down the line, the Festival has proved the worth of that investment and confidence: the event now takes place in more than 35 different locations across the UK with an all-embracing range of films, seasons, and programmes for all ages and tastes, many accompanied by guests or highlighted by specialist introductions or workshops.

Relationships forged with young directors have flourished as they have matured in those three decades… many established names, such as Jean-Pierre Améris, Josiane Balasko, Michel Hazanavicius, and Bouli Lanners (currently filming in Scotland), have returned to the Festival time and again to present their latest works; and audiences the length and breadth of the UK have responded with loyalty and enthusiasm as the event has expanded – from Orkney and Shetland to Plymouth. In Europe relationships have been formed with like-minded festivals in Namur (Belgium) and Angers (France).

Some of the year’s hottest titles from such major festivals as Cannes will be on offer including Céline Sciamma’s Portrait of a Lady on Fire and Nicolas Bedos’ La belle époque from Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight. And big names of le cinéma français will appear on-screen in the UK: among them Catherine Deneuve, Daniel Auteuil, Jean Dujardin, and Fabrice Luchini.

Each screening throughout the Festival will be preceded by a short film on the theme of human rights, shot on a mobile phone or tablet as part of a continuing collaboration with the Paris-based Mobile Film Festival.

Richard Mowe, Festival Director and Co-Founder, commented: “We are thrilled to have one of the most varied and vibrant programmes ever at this year’s French Film Festival. The French Film Festival’s work illustrates that culture and human understanding and cooperation ignores current political vagaries and knows no boundaries. It is ironic that our first screenings take place on 1 November, the day after the projected departure of the UK from the EU. The French Film Festival will surely be one of the first major arts events in the UK to demonstrate its ongoing support for cultural exchange with continental Europe and beyond post-Brexit. We hope that come November there will be something to celebrate both off and on-screen.

The 27th edition of the French Film Festival UK runs 1 November to 15 December. For the full programme, venues and booking information visit www.frenchfilmfestival.org.uk.