The Second Annual Chicago French Film Festival

Friday 27 – Sunday 29 July 2012

Now in its second year, The Music Box hosts three days of the very best in contemporary French cinema. Featuring special guests and film presentations!

The festival begins on Friday, July 27 with an Opening Night Presentation of A Better Life (Une Vie Meilleure), directed by award-winning director Cédric Kahn. Three people, Yann (Guillaume Canet), a cook; Nadia (Leila Bekhti), a waitress; and Nadia’s nine-year-old son risk everything to open a restaurant. Bearing up bravely against the onslaught of relentless creditors and an uncaring system, they are forced to make difficult decisions while trying to maintain their hope for A Better Life. Starring Guillaume Canet, Leïla Bekhti and young actor Slimane Khettabi.

The festival concludes on Sunday, July 29 with a screening of 38 Witnesses (38 Temoins), directed by Lucas Belvaux and loosely based on the 1964 New York City assault and murder of Kitty Genovese. This film tells the disturbing story of 38 neighbors who witness a horrific crime and remain silent… except for one man who tells the truth with shocking consequences. Starring Sophie Quinton and Yvan Attal, 38 Witnesses deftly addresses some often unspoken truths about society and individual responsibility.

Other highlights include the Saturday, July 28 screening of the Festival Centerpiece Feature Beloved (Les Bien-Aimés), a delightfully romantic musical directed by Christophe Honoré that tells the story of the various loves and losses of a mother and daughter over a period of three decades. Beloved stars the always stunning and incomparable Catherine Deneuve and her real-life daughter Chiara Mastroianni. With music by Alex Beaupain, this charming and utterly original film will touch the heart of anyone who has ever experienced the vagaries of love.

The Chicago French Film Festival is supported by the Cultural Service of the Consulate General of France in Chicago, Unifrance and the Music Box Theatre.


Friday, July 27th, 2012

  • 7:30pm: A Better Life (Une Vie Meilleure)
  • 9:50pm: Sleepless Night (Nuit Blanche)

Saturday, July 28th, 2012

  • 1:40pm: A Trip To The Moon & The Extraordinary Voyage
  • 3:30pm: The Day I Saw Your Heart (Et Soudain Tout le Monde Me Manque)
  • 5:40pm: Guilty (Presume Coupable)
  • 8:00pm: Beloved (Les Bien-Aimes)

Sunday, July 29th, 2012

  • 2:00pm: The Rabbi’s Cat (Le Chat du Rabbin)
  • 4:30pm: 17 Girls (17 Filles)
  • 7:00pm: 38 Witnesses (38 Temoins)


Tickets are $10 and available online or at the theatre box office. Save money with the All Festival Pass for $40 (a savings of $50).


  • Fri 27 Jul 2012, 7:30pm

A Better Life (Une Vie Meilleure) (2011)

directed by Cedric Kahn starring Guillaume Canet, Leila Bekhti in French with English subtitles

Opening Night Presentation

Yann (Guillaume Canet), a cook, and Nadia (Leila Bekhti), a waitress and mother of 9-year-old boy, decide to risk everything on the purchase of a restaurant. With plenty of talent, energy, love and dreams, but no finances of their own, they find themselves pushed into a jungle of financing and loans that quickly overwhelms them. To bail them out, Nadia takes a job in Canada, while Yann stays behind to save the restaurant. Together, he and the boy (Slimane Khettabi) confront relentless creditors, an uncaring system; a daily grind from which there is no respite until Yann finally understands that his only chance of salvation lies in joining Nadia in Canada and finding a better life.

  • Fri 27 Jul 2012, 9:50pm

Sleepless Night (Nuit Blanche) (2011)

directed by Frédéric Jardin starring Tomer Sisley in French with English subtitles

Vincent (Tomer Sisley) is a respected and dedicated police officer, or so it seems. After stealing a massive bag of cocaine from drug dealers that work for Marciano, a powerful mob boss/nightclub owner, Vincent quickly finds himself trapped in a situation that is a parent’s worst nightmare: his son has been kidnapped with the promise of being executed if he doesn’t immediately return the cocaine to its rightful owner.

Vincent heads to a nightclub in the outskirts of Paris to trade the drugs for his son and soon soon finds himself caught in an intense, claustrophobic cat-and-mouse game that quickly spirals into madness. The night to come might not only be the longest but also the last one of his life… and his young son’s as well.

  • Sat 28 Jul 2012, 1:40pm

A Trip To The Moon & The Extraordinary Voyage

directed by George Méliès, Serge Bromberg, Eric Lange in English, French

George Méliès died in obscurity over seventy years ago, but as a central character to the story of Martin Scorsese’s Hugo, his life and work are being rediscovered. This color restoration of his masterpiece A Trip to the Moon took nearly 10 years and $500,000 to complete and features a beautiful new soundtrack by the internationally known French electronica group AIR. A Trip to the Moon will be shown along with The Extraordinary Voyage a documentary about Méliés, his influence on modern filmmakers, and the amazing process of restoring a single deteriorating copy of a 100 year old film. This presentation is an unprecedented opportunity to see an incredible restoration of a landmark piece of film history and a unique treat for all film lovers.

  • Sat 28 Jul 2012, 3:30pm

The Day I Saw Your Heart (Et Soudain Tout le Monde Me Manque) (2011)

directed by Jennifer Devoldere in French with English subtitles

Family life is complicated; Especially when your father, who is almost 60, is expecting a child with his young, new wife. When Eli announces his news, it profoundly upsets his two grown daughters: Dom, who is trying to adopt a child, and Justine, who flits from one boyfriend to the next without any thought about her future. Eli, who has never been able to get along with Justine, gets the good idea of trying to get closer to her by secretly becoming friends with all her ex‐boyfriends. But when Justine falls in love again and Eli is about to ruin everything, the family teeters on the brink of disaster.

  • Sat 28 Jul 2012, 5:40pm

Guilty (Presume Coupable) (2011)

directed by Vincent Garenq in French with English subtitles

A man wrongly accused of an unspeakable crime battles to prove his innocence in this drama from director Vincent Garenq. Based on a true story, Guilty tells the story of Alain (Philippe Torreton) and his wife Edith (Noemie Lvovsky), a couple raising three children in Northern France whose lives were suddenly turned upside down when they were arrested and charged with being part of a group of sexual predators preying on children. Alain and Edith both insisted they were innocent and it was the beginning of a legal nightmare that lasted two years and led to the arrest and conviction of a number of people who were later proven innocent. Once behind bars, Alain must stand up for his innocence against prosecutors eager for convictions in a controversial and deeply flawed case against him.

  • Sat 28 Jul 2012, 8:00pm

Beloved (Les Bien-Aimes) (2011)

directed by Christophe Honore starring Catherine Deneuve, Chiara Mastroianni in French with English subtitles

Festival Centerpiece Feature

Starring Catherine Deneuve and (her real-life daughter) Chiara Mastroianni, this sly and exquisitely romantic musical drama from Christophe Honoré (Love Songs, Dans Paris) spans over three decades as it follows a mother and daughter’s misadventures in love.

From the ‘60s era story of Madeleine (Ludivine Sagnier) and her Czech husband to the romance of Madeleine’s daughter, Vera, thirty years later and the rekindling of an affair between a re-married Madeleine (Deneuve) and her former lover Jaromil (Milos Forman). Beloved is a light-hearted but ultimately moving exploration of the changing nature of relationships.

  • Sun 29 Jul 2012, 2:00pm

The Rabbi’s Cat (Le Chat du Rabbin) (2011)

directed by Joann Sfar & Antoine Delesvaux starring Mathieu Amalric, François Damiens and Hafsia Herzi in French with English subtitles

An utterly endearing animated feature about the adventures of a rabbi, his daughter and their very opinionated talking cat.

  • Sun 29 Jul 2012, 4:30pm

17 Girls (17 Filles) (2011)

directed by Delphine & Muriel Coulin starring Louise Grinberg, Juliette Darche and Roxane Duran in French with English subtitles

Loosely based on a story taken straight from American newspaper headlines; 17 teenage girls in a remote village in France make a shocking pact to all become pregnant at the same time.

  • Sun 29 Jul 2012, 7:00pm

38 Witnesses (38 Temoins) (2012)

directed by Lucas Belvaux starring Yvan Attal, Sophie Quinton and Nicole Garcia in French, English with English subtitles

A troubling look at a horrific crime and a group of neighbors who almost universally decide to look the other way. This film depicts the mob mentality that ensues when one dissenter breaks ranks and comes forward.

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