"French cinema is disappearing," says Jean-Marc Barr. "Outside of France, when you ask people about French cinema, they still mention film stars like Brigitte Bardot and Alain Delon, rather than any new French stars."
The actor and director, who starred in Luc Besson's The Big Blue and Lars von Trier's Europa, is part of Unifrance, organisers of this four-day showcase of French film. Highlights include the UK premieres of La Vie En Rose (La Mme), the life story of Edith Piaf, starring Marion Cotillard alongside Gerard Depardieu; and The Singer (Quand J'etais Chanteur), with Depardieu - one of the few contemporary French actors known outside of the country - playing an ageing variety performer who falls in love with Cecile De France's headstrong estate agent.
Barr will introduce seven young, up-and-coming actors at the festival, including Romain Duris ( Moliere), the heartthrob Guillaume Canet, Transylvania star Amira Casar, and Sara Forestier. The latter won the 2005 Cesar Award for most-promising actress in Abdel Kechiche's L'Esquive and stars alongside Juliette Binoche, John Turturro and Nick Nolte in A Few Days in September (Quelques Jours en Septembre), a spy thriller about the days leading up to the September 11 atrocity. …