Anglos reject ‘racist’ French comedy film

A French comedy that’s the biggest box office hit of the year in France, has been turned down by Anglo film distributors because they consider it 'politically incorrect' and borderline racist.

If the massive hit movie “Qu'est-ce qu'on a fait au Bon Dieu ?” (What did we do to God?) ever makes it onto cinema screens across the Channel and on the other side of the Atlantic it won’t be the version that’s sold some 15 million tickets here.

That’s because American and British film distributors, who love a good hit, aren’t so crazy about the borderline racist tone of the film, which focuses on two posh, white, Catholic parents whose four daughters marry men of other religions and races.

Here's the film trailer, but it's in French only:

A boss from TF1 International, which is trying to distribute the film overseas, explained the problem in regards to audiences in the US and UK, where a cleaned up version of the film might appear.

“They have a cultural approach that is very different than ours,” International Sales Director Sabine Chemaly told French magazine Le Point. “They would never allow themselves these days to laugh at blacks, Jews or Asians…They know that it would immediately create significant controversies in their countries.”

She added: “The sources of comedy are different (in the US and UK). In those countries they don’t know how to laugh about differences, they live with them, but caricatures are not acceptable, even with some comedic distance.”

Perhaps true, but in a couple instances in the film’s trailer the Catholic parents say racist things, but the movie presents them as humorous.

In one scene, the parents are waiting to meet their fourth daughter’s fiancé when the father looks down at his watch and remarks: “Two minutes late, at least we’re sure he’s not Chinese,” and bursts out laughing.

But when their future son-in-law arrives they realize he’s black and the laughter stops.

In a subsequent scene the parents are driving together when the mother notes philosophically: “They are going to have some beautiful mixed race children” and the begins to weep.

“What did we do to God?” she asks.

Scene like these contributed to low key controversy in France when the film came out earlier this year. The director Philippe de Chauveron was accused of using racist clichés to sell his film, while at the same time validating and waking up the latent racism in French society.

The director responded to his critics by saying it’s a “kindly comedy that is respectful toward everyone.”

Judging by the box office numbers people across Europe have had little problem with the film’s take on race and religion. It’s been a hit in Greece, Belgium, Portugal and especially Germany, where it’s sold 3 million tickets and counting.

The flick is heading next to Italy, Spain and even China in 2015. And the director is already aiming for 2016 for the film’s sequel.


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French films with English subtitles to watch in November

As days get shorter and temperatures drop, November is a great month to enjoy a warm and comforting moment at the cinema. Here’s a round up of the French movies with English subtitles to see in Paris this month.

Cinema in France
Photo: Loic Venance/AFP

The cinema group Lost in Frenchlation runs regular screenings of French films in the capital, with English subtitles to help non-native speakers follow the action. The club kicks off every screening with drinks at the cinema’s bar one hour before the movie, so it’s also a fun way to meet people if you’re new to Paris.

These are the events they have coming up in November.

Friday, November 5th

Boîte Noire – What happened on board the Dubai-Paris flight before it crashed in the Alps? In this thriller Matthieu, a young and talented black box analyst played by Pierre Niney (star of Yves Saint-Laurent among other movies) is determined to solve the reason behind this deadly crash, no matter the costs. 

The screening will take place at the Club de l’étoile cinema at 8pm. But you can arrive early for drinks at the bar from 7pm. 

Tickets are €10 full price, €8 for students and all other concessions, and can be reserved here.

Sunday, November 14th

Tralala – In the mood for music? This new delightful French musical brings you into the life of Tralala (played by Mathieu Amalric), a 48 years old, homeless and worn-out street singer, who one day gets mistaken for someone else. Tralala sees an opportunity to get a better life by taking on a new personality. He now has a brother, nephews, ex-girlfriends, and maybe even a daughter. But where is the lie? Where is the truth? And who is he, deep down?

The night will start with drinks from 6pm followed by the screening at 7pm at the Luminor Hôtel de Ville cinema. There is also a two-hour cinema-themed walk where you’ll be taken on a “musicals movie tour” in the heart of Paris, which begins at 4pm.

Tickets cost €10, or €8 for students and concessions, and can be found here. Tickets for the walking tour cost €20 and must be reserved online here.

Thursday, November 18th

Illusions Perdues – Based on the great novel series by Honoré de Balzac between 1837 and 1843, this historical drama captures the writer Lucien’s life and dilemmas who dreams about a great career of writing and moves to the city to get a job at a newspaper. As a young poet entering the field of journalism, he is constantly challenged by his desire to write dramatic and eye-catching stories for the press. But are they all true?

The evening will kick off with drinks at L’Entrepôt cinema bar at 7pm, followed by the movie screening at 8pm. Tickets are available online here, and cost €8.50 full price; €7 for students and all other concessions.

Sunday, November 21st

Eiffel – Having just finished working on the Statue of Liberty, Gustave Eiffel (played by Romain Duris) is tasked with creating a spectacular monument for the 1889 Universal Exposition in Paris. It’s ultimately his love story with Adrienne Bourgès (Emma Mackey) that will inspire him to come up with the idea for the Eiffel Tower.

After a first screening last month, Lost in Frenchlation is organising a new one at the Luminor Hôtel de Ville cinema, with pre-screening drinks at the cinema bar. 

Tickets cost €10, or €8 for students and concessions, and can be found here

Thursday, November 25th

Les Héroïques – Michel is a former junkie and overgrown child who only dreams of motorbikes and of hanging out with his 17-year-old son Léo and his friends. But at 50 years old, he now has to handle the baby he just had with his ex, and try not to make the same mistakes he has done in the past. 

The film will be followed by a Q&A with the director Maxime Roy who will discuss his very first feature. 

Tickets cost €10, or €8 for students and concessions, and can be found here.

Full details of Lost in Frenchlation’s events can be found on their website or Facebook page. In France, a health pass is required in order to go to the cinema.