Very, very occasionally, TMINE lets you know what TV-related events the Institut français du Royaume-Uni will be presenting in London
Not technically a TV event, I know, but the Institut français will be screening the movie La fête des mères (Mother’s Day) on Sunday 25th June at 8.30pm, as part of its ‘Women Shaping the World’ season. So why mention it? Well, it stars Audrey Fleurot of Engrenages (Spiral), Les témoins (Witnesses), Safe et al, and she’ll be doing a Q&A afterwards:
La fête des mères (Mother’s Day)
103 mins in French with EN subs FRA | 2018 | dir. Marie-Castille Mention-Schaar, with Audrey Fleurot, Nicole Garcia, Clotilde Courau, Carmen Maura
Presidents, nannies, bakers, actresses, teachers, florists, journalists, doctors… These women are progressive, benevolent, clumsy, absent, omnipresent, overworked, guilt-laden… Their children both long and fear to spread their wings and leave the nest. When daughters become mothers, they realise it’s all fun and games! This ensemble film gathers on screen a first class cast including Audrey Fleurot and Carmen Maura.
Although I’m not 100% sure it’s still running its Totally Serialized events, the Institut français du Royaume-Uni is still being very marvellous and running French TV events in London. To save me some hassle, let’s pretend it’s still called Totally Serialized so I don’t have to rename this section.
Office admin out the way, appropriately enough, the first ‘Totally Serialized’ of 2018 is a showing of the first two episodes of the third season of Le bureau des légendes (The Bureau) (France: Canal+; UK: Amazon), as well as a Q&A with producer Alex Berger.
Le Bureau des Légendes
FRA | 2014 | Series 3, episodes 1&2 | 2×52 mins | showrunner Eric Rochant | directed by Samuel Collardey | with Mathieu Kassovitz, Jean-Pierre Darroussin, Léa Drucker cert. tbc | in French with EN subs | UK Premiere
If you were hooked by The Bureau, rejoice, here comes the UK premiere of the new season! Based on real-life accounts by former spies, this French addictive series depicts a branch of clandestine undercover agents, dispatched in key and hostile locations around the world. Offering a new perspective on intelligence agencies and intricate geopolitical issues, this third season centres on “Malotru” (Mathieu Kassovitz), who is taken hostage by ISIS.
Followed by a Q&A with Alex Berger, Producer of The Bureau
It’s taking place on Wednesday 24th January at 8.30pm at the Institut in London and you can book tickets online – seats are still available.
Incidentally, I don’t know if the Institut is misspeaking or not, but the Tweet I spotted about the event talks about it being a preview, suggesting that the full season might finally be coming to Amazon…
UPDATE: Turns out there’s also a debate the next day about politics on TV, chaired by Walter of Walter Presents fame:
Power and Politics: The Hottest Genre in TV Drama
Chaired by Walter Iuzzolino, the curator behind global drama channel, Walter Presents, ‘Power and Politics: The Hottest Genre in TV drama’ will lift the lid on some of the most popular recent hit thrillers and royal dramas. Why have they struck such a chord with international audiences, and what successful formulae do they share? Meet the producers, writers and actors behind blockbuster hits like Spin, The Crown, Victoria, and The Bureau, and explore the line where fiction and reality meet. Who is manipulating whom, and to what extent is fiction shaping real life politics and public opinion? Mathieu Sapin, author of comic books on politics will also join the debate.
A couple of intriguing events for TV lovers have popped up on my radar recently.
Long-time readers will remember that for five years, the Institut Français organised an annual French/UK TV festival called ‘Totally Serialized‘. Some of you might even have won tickets to it on this ‘ere blog. However, there wasn’t one this year, since Totally Serialized is going to become a series of ongoing events throughout the year.
The first of these is a showing on 26 April at 6.30pm at Ciné Lumière in London of France 2’s Le Repenti(Reborn), which is being made available on Walter Presents (US readers can get it through Amazon). It stars Engrenages (Spiral)’s Bruno Debrandt as Alexis, who six years after he was left for dead, burned and wounded by his best friend Victor whom he betrayed, returns to Le Havre to work undercover at Victor’s docks. After significant reconstructive surgery and a changed identity, he is unrecognizable but struggles to stay away from his ex-family.
As you do.
Debrandt will be there on stage in conversation with Walter himself, preceding the showing of episode one. It’s worth noting that it’s actually a two-part telemovie, originally broadcast in 2010, so you’ll only be getting half the story and given that episode one is 90 minutes long and the event’s supposed to finish at 8.15pm, that sounds like about 15 minutes of chat.
Elsewhere, for fans of old UK TV, on 22 April at 7pm at the Museum of Comedy, also in London, Annette Andre will be reminiscing about her career, particularly Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased), but also A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum and The Benny Hill Show. There’ll also be a chance to meet her afterwards. Tickets are £17 each.
In the UK: Fridays, 9pm, More4. Also available on Walter Presents In France: Aired on France 2, 2012-2014
To the rest of the world, it can sometimes seem like the only TV channel in France that makes scripted French-language television is Canal+. Take your pick of shows – Engrenages (Spiral), The Last Panthers, Les Revenants, Braquo, The Tunnel– if it’s at least partly in French, it’s going to be from Canal+.
This, of course, is not the case. TF1 makes plenty of French-language shows – TMINE’s pal Monsieur Thierry Attard will point you in their direction in both English and French, if you’re so inclined. There are also plenty of other French TV channels out there making TV in French. It’s just we’ve never really bothered importing it until now.
But having poached all its formats back in the 80s when it was just starting up and now newly awakened to its ratings potential thanks to the success of Les Revenants, Channel 4 is once again looking at French TV as a potential way to fill up the airwaves – as well as the Internet, thanks to Walter Presents. And since everyone, even BBC Four, has been a bit lax at airing anything French for the past 30 years or so, that means Channel 4 is free to pick its way through all of French TV’s archives for the cream of the crop.
So, firstly, we have to thank Walter. Les hommes de l’ombre first aired on pubcaster France 2 nearly four years ago. But despite popping up at 2013’s Totally Serialized (you could have won tickets to see it, thanks to this ‘ere blog, in fact) and featuring the Only Handsome French Actor Everyone Knows About, Grégory Fitoussi (Engrenages, American Odyssey, Mr Selfridge, World War Z, GI Joe), no one bothered with it until Walter picked it for his web site.
And it’s a good choice. Despite its misleadingly translated English title of Spin, it’s actually quite a hard hitting political thriller looking at public perceptions, PR, deception by the state, and modern political campaigns. It stars Bruno Wolkowitch (The Tourist) as Simon Kapita, an old-school political operator of integrity, headhunted by the UN to head up one of its commissions. However, on a quick trip back to his homeland, the man he helped to become President of France is killed by a suicide bomber of Algerian descent, so everyone naturally assumes he was a terrorist. The President of the Senate (Philippe Magnan) takes over and starts to clamp down on security, but Kapita soons discovers that Magnan is hiding the bomber’s true motivation for political advantage – he wants to become the new President.
That’s the plot for episode one. However, wisely for once, More4 aired the first two episodes on Friday, and it’s a bit misleading for me to leave things there since although that deadly secret does remain an important plot point, the show moves on. It’s then about Kapita first selecting a potential alternative candidate (Nathalie Baye), persuading her to run for office and then managing her campaign. Equally important is the fact that Kapita’s protégé, the ambitious and trendy young Ludovic Desmeuze (Fitoussi), throws aside his integrity to run Magnan’s campaign, pitting the two former friends against each other in an escalating political war.
Although comparisons to Borgen are obvious, the show is its own beast, having as much in common with that Danish show as it does with The West Wing, with Kapita’s assembling of his political team reminiscent of that show’s In The Shadow of Two Gunmen and he being almost as inspirational as Josiah Bartlett in his own, French way.
But it’s really a much darker show than both of them. I said Spin was a mistranslation and its French title gives you a better idea of the kind of show it is: Les hommes de l’ombre. As well as being a nice bit of aural word play, this means roughly both ‘the men in the shadows’ and ‘the men behind the scenes’, and indeed, the show is very much about Wolkowitch and Fitoussi as the hidden kingmakers*, working the cogs of democracy, unseen in the shadows, alongside governmental subterfuge.
It’s also very good. While it doesn’t have the gritty realism of Engrenages – or the industrial strength Parisian swearing – it’s got a strong plot, interesting, albeit relatively conventional characters and situations, and some top acting. Although the female characters don’t come out of it very well, they do at least get lots of things to do and the political machinations that we see do have a strong stench of reality to them. Despite the lack of black characters, the show also subtly flags up public racism and islamophobia – a far more topical issue now than it was back in 2012, of course.
Unfortunately, the show’s somewhat let down by its English subtitling. The French dialogue is subtle, nuanced and economical; the subtitles are not. While they usually get most of the plot across, they often change the meaning of what’s been said in significant ways (such as changing certain characters’ perceptions of different political groups and leanings), and somewhat bizarrely do so even when a literal word-for-word translation would have been both more accurate and even better written.
So take it from me – if the dialogue seems bad, it probably isn’t in French.
Well done then, Walter. Good choice. Just hire a better translator next time.
* Yes, France is a republic and Wolkowitch wants to get a woman elected. You know what I mean