Cinemas pull ‘France’s American History X’

France's answer to American History X has been mysteriously cancelled in fifty cinemas ahead of its release next month, with the director hinting that links between France's skinheads and the far-right National Front are too disturbing a cocktail for film distributors.

Cinemas pull 'France's American History X'
A scene from the film Un Francais. Photo: Mars Distribution
The new film – Un Francais (“A Frenchman”) – has been touted as France's answer to the acclaimed American History X movie.
Directed by Patrick Asté, who goes by the name Diastème, the film takes a closer look at the French skinhead movement of the past few decades.
But unlike 1998's American History X, which sees a US neo-Nazi come good, or even the UK's This Is England from 2006, Un Francais is not pulling in the awards. In fact, it wasn't even shown at the recent Cannes Film Festival. 
To add salt in the director's wounds, 50 cinemas in 50 cities around France have pulled the film ahead of its release – and he can't can a straight answer as to why. 
He wrote on his blog that distributors would only say they were “too afraid” to show it, without going into further detail.
So what's so offensive about the film?
The movie follows a 30-year period in the life of skinhead Marco (played by Alban Lenoir), as he undergoes a transformation to eventually shun the violent lifestyle and start a new life of his own. 
According to French magazine Les Inrocks, the film includes landmark moments of the skinhead movement in France, such as their clashes with punks in the 80s, their systematic beating of Arabs, and the 1998 death of Moroccan man Brahim Bouarram who was drowned in the River Seine in Paris after he was beaten by skinhead members of the far right National Front. 
See the trailer, below, in which a dark-skinned man is seen being physically assaulted by a gang of skinheads in a bar, and is forced to drink cleaning agent Destop.

The National Front connection is clearly one of the most contentious aspects of the film, especially considering the party's recent surge in popularity under Marine Le Pen. 
Indeed, the far-right National Front has cleaned up its racist image over recent years – especially compared to the early days when founder Jean-Marie Le Pen called the death of Brahim Bouarram “an accident”.
Under Marine Le Pen, who has steered the National Front since 2011, the party has enjoyed a series of election successes, notably coming first in last year's European elections.
And Diastème is well aware of the connection. In a statement when the film was released, he said:
“The National Front is a party with blood on its hands. TV presenters forget, but I remember. This is a party that was created by French Nazis – we can't treat it like any other party, we can't hide this history.”

(A scene from the film Un Francais. Photo: Mars Distribution)
He added that even today, many party members are still members of the Groupe Union Défense, better known as GUD, a succession of violent French far-right student political groups.
But even with these political connections, director Diastème can't understand why cinemas would want to pull the premiere.
He argued in his blog that the film was an important part of France's history, and that people who've seen it have told him it's a “necessary” film, “that people need to see”, “especially now”. 
“I feel a bit dejected,” he wrote after he learned of the cancellations. “I told the story of a man who gets rid of all the violence and hate that was inside him. It's a film of peace. A film of the cinema. All I'm getting in the last couple of weeks is violence, hatred, war… that's not cinema.”
The film's distributors, Mars Distribution, is yet to comment on the matter. The film will open in selected cinemas on June 10th. 

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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.