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Brexit or not, France's British film festival keeps calm and carries on
Like the waves, the British will keep coming back to Dinard, the resort on the Channel coast that hosts the annual British Film Festival, the town's mayor, Jean-Claude Mahé declared at the official opening on Thursday. But the prospect of Brexit hung over proceedings, with nine short films addressing the issue.
Franco-Italian film actress and model Monica Bellucci, this year’s jury chair, quietly declared the Dinard Festival officially open on Thursday.
Six films are competing for the pot-bellied Hitchcock awards, which will be handed out on Saturday night.
Among the 25 films selected in special sections, the festival this year has made a place for a series of nine short films, 50 minutes in all, about the wide range of views and attitudes held by UK citizens about or towards Brexit. It’s called Dramas of a Divided Nation. Each film is a portrait played by a well-known British actor or actress.
"Young British film-makers today, are affected by Brexit," said Hussam Hindi, the Dinard Film Festival’s programme director. "Being a part of the festival could enable them to express disapproval of isolationist, nationalist trends or policies. It can be an act of resistance. I hope so, anyway."
He added that out of the 100 or so films he watched ahead of making his choices this year, a little under a third were from directors under 30 years of age.
Dinard mayor Mahé made a point of speaking about Brexit, and expressed confidence in the festival's lasting future.
"The waves that land here in Dinard and cross the Channel to Great Britain," he declared. "And, in the same back and forth way, we know that Britons will continue to come back here."
The festival is a generally jolly cross-Channel event, where you hear French film people speaking English and British speaking French, each with their own accents and false friends. Union Jacks are in view wherever there's space and British police officers keep an eye on the politicians and celebrities alongside their French counterparts. They must be some of the most selfied Bobbies around.
Local people queue for more than an hour to see a film in the running for a Hitchcock, or to get a closer glimpse of, and a greeting from, the jury stars.
The local politicians and the festival organisers have good reason to be determined to keep the event going, Brexit or not.