From sister’s shadow to Cannes spotlight

Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi has emerged as an original and talented film director, no longer in the shadow of her younger, more famous sister, Carla. At this year's Cannes festival, she is flying the flag for women as the only female director in competition.

From sister's shadow to Cannes spotlight
Photo: Anne-Christine Poujoulat/AFP

Who’s Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi ?

She is a 48-year-old French-Italian actor and director, and older sister of former French first lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy.

Why is she in the news this week?

At the Cannes Film Festival, which opened on Wednesday, Bruni-Tedeschi is the sole female director with a chance of winning the prestigious Palme d’Or prize, for her film “A Castle in Italy.”

Tell me more.

Out of the 20 films being screened ‘in competition’ at Cannes this year, only one had a female director – Bruni-Tedeschi, for “Un Chateau en Italie.”

This comes after a huge controversy in 2012, when not a single female director had her film screened in competition.

At the time, Thierry Fremaux, the artistic director of the festival appeared to add fuel to the fire by vowing that he wouldn’t want films directed by women included, just to provide a gender balance.

Only one female director has ever won the Palme d’Or at Cannes – New Zealander Jane Campion for ‘The Piano’ in 1993.

Films by female directors like Sofia Coppola, Claire Denis (also French), and Valeria Golina, are playing in the ‘Un Certain Regard’ category this year, but some consider this a “sidebar” to the main competition.

CLICK HERE to view the hottest French film stars at Cannes this year.

So what are her chances?

Not great. She’s up against Oscar-winning directors like Asghar Farhadi and the Coen brothers, as well as Cannes favourites Steven Soderbergh, and Nicolas Winding Refn.

Irish bookmakers Paddy Power have given ‘A Castle in Italy’ odds of 25/1, and by their reckoning, only three films have a slimmer chance of taking home the Palme d’Or.

However, it is possible that Bruni-Tedeschi’s gender could help her chances. This year’s competition jury contains four women – Nicole Kidman, Vidya Balan, Naomi Kawase and Lynne Ramsay.

Excluding chairman Steven Spielberg, that’s a 50/50 male/female split among those who will ultimately decide which film to honour. It might just make a difference.

What else has she done?

Quite a lot really. As a director, her 2007 film ‘Actrices’ was given the Prix Spécial du Jury in Cannes.

Her first film ‘Il est plus facile pour un chameau…’ (‘It is easier for a camel…’), which she also starred in, won awards at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York in 2003.

As an actress, she’s been active since the 1980s, and has had starring roles in 2004’s ‘5×2’ and 2005’s ‘Time to Leave,’ both by controversial French director François Ozon.

English-speaking audiences may know her from her roles in Ridley Scott’s 2006 romantic comedy ‘A Good Year’, and Steven Spielberg’s Oscar-nominated ‘Munich’, from 2005.

In 1994, she won the ‘Most Promising Actress’ title at the César Awards (France’s equivalent of the Academy Awards) from her performance as Martine, a single woman who undergoes a dramatic personality change, in ‘Les gens normaux qui n’ont rien d’exceptionnel’ (‘Ordinary people who are nothing special.’)

Bruni – I’ve heard that name before, haven’t I?

Probably, but don’t confuse Valeria with her younger sister Carla, the singer-songwriter and former model who married then French President Nicolas Sarkozy in 2007.

Where did she come from?

Well, Bruni-Tedeschi was born in Turin, Italy in 1964, but just like her sister Carla, moved to France at an early age.

She studied drama and theatre in a variety of schools and universities in Paris, and starting working in theatre, TV, and eventually films, in the 1980s.

Bruni-Tedeschi has never been married, but since 2007 has been in a relationship with Louis Garrel, and actor who is almost 20 years her junior, and whom she directed in this year’s ‘A Castle in Italy.’

In 2009 she adopted her daughter, Cecille, from Africa.

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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.