Five new French documentaries you should watch right now

Here's a selection of must-see documentaries that have come out of France recently - with everything from ballet to cinema.

Five new French documentaries you should watch right now
Photo: YouTube Screenshot
Fancy watching a French documentary?
Here are five of the best recent releases, put together by the masters of French film (with English subtitles), Lost in Frenchlation. 
1. Tomorrow (Demain) – 2015, directed by Cyril Dion and French actress-filmmaker Mélanie Laurent
This was the first optimist documentary film about ecology that’s more focused on solutions than problems; it raises awareness and warns us without being defeatist. The film helps us understand all the pieces that need to fit together in order to ensure a greener and more sustainable world.
The film crew travel through the US, Denmark, India, and Switzerland and meet different people along the way who are all leaving their individual positive marks in life, whether it be in agriculture, energy, the economy, democracy or education… proving that in order to change the world, you need to start individually and locally. This film should be screened in every school!
2. Lumière (Lumière! L'aventure Commence) – 2016, directed by Thierry Frémaux
Lumière reintroduces some of cinema’s early moments through restored short films from the Lumière Brothers, showcasing an historic period in the history of France and the cinema world. Fremaux's engaging expert commentary is the perfect companion to these short films, which effectively capture the birth of cinema.
The short films themselves are fun to watch and are historically informative – depicting Paris in the early 1900s – with an amazing job being done in restoring them. Lumière is a wonderful tribute for anyone interested in the history of cinema and the power of the filmed image.
3. Little Gems (Les Pépites) – 2016, directed by Xavier de Lauzanne. 
Les Pépites follows a couple of French retirees who launched a school for young children living in an underprivileged area of Phnom Penh, in Cambodia. The couple started their association PSE – For a Child's Smile – in 1996, shortly after retiring.
The film is filled with humility, reminding us that you don't not need to be a superhero to achieve great things, and that our power is in the humanity that we put into our actions. Despite being a documentary, the director manages to create a film which feels like it was made for the best of cinemas with its panoramic image and seamless rhythm. Les Pépites is the perfect mix of enlightening and entertaining thanks to its incredible use of humour – it's an absolute must-see!
4. Reset (Relève : Histoire d'une Création) – 2015, directed by Thierry Demaizière & Alban Teurlai. 
Relève documents the creation of the charismatic Benjamin Millepied's (choreographer of Black Swan, the film where he met his wife Natalie Portman) first ballet upon taking on the role of Artistic Director of the Paris Opera Ballet – the oldest and one of the most prestigious national ballet companies in the world.
The film provides fascinating insights into what goes on behind the curtains, revealing the relationship between music and movement and showing the creative process that goes into making such masterpieces of ballet. Be warned: Millepied’s enthusiasm is infectious!
5. Journey Through French Cinema (Voyage à Travers le Cinéma Français) – 2016, directed by Bertrand Tavernier
This is Bertrand Tavernier's (a Godfather of French cinema) personal journey through French cinema, with the greatest of French actors and directors.
The 190-minute documentary really is a journey, starting in the 1930s and all the way through to the 1970s, highlighting important films and scenes while also showcasing hundreds of film that Tavernier comments on with historical insight and aesthetic precision. No one could have done a better job of this documentary than Tavernier thanks to his unparalleled knowledge, experience and enthusiasm. Bravo!
Lost in Frenchlation has teamed up with the London International Documentary Festival to bring the best French documentaries to the international community of Paris once a month for the next six months –  including 'Lumière' and 'Demain'. Don't miss the first of their series, 'Flâneurs', this Friday night at their newest cinema venue, the historic Cinema Mac Mahon!

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


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.