With a Spotlight on the Sustainable Development Goals, FrancoFilm Festival returns !

Cinema Akil, Dubai’s only independent cinema, and in collaboration with the Embassies of France, Switzerland, Canada Luxembourg, and Belgium in the United Arab Emirates announces the launch of FrancoFilm Festival on March 5, 2021. The annual festival aims to celebrate the French language through cinema.

The 11th edition of FrancoFilm Festival echoes the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN’s 2030 agenda

The 11th edition of FrancoFilm Festival echoes the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN’s 2030 agenda with a lineup that raises awareness around topics central for a sustainable world ranging from gender equality, to climate action and decent work and economic growth.

The Festival, running until March 11, will feature regional premieres across genres including critically acclaimed drama, documentary, comedy and animated feature films opening with the award winning Red Soil by Farid Bentoumi.

H.E Xavier CHATEL, Ambassador of France to the UAE, underlined that “When the Emirati and French foreign ministers, HH Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Jean-Yves Le Drian, met in October 2019 in Abu Dhabi, they insisted that urgent joint work was needed to make our world more sustainable. And I believe that cinema - that most beautiful secret room of our fancy, can contribute to this lofty objective. And doing so, we can also work to densify our people-to-people exchanges, and deepen our cultural affinity. Such cooperation is more needed than ever, as Culture is facing unprecedented challenges. I hope that Francofilm 2021 can provide a lull, a jolt, or at least a moment of pleasure in a sector that has suffered much. Everyone can play a part. The upcoming Expo Dubai will be for France the opportunity to showcase the best innovations towards SDGs that will contribute to a more responsible and sustainable planet”.

Echoing the Sustainability goals of the UN’s 2030 agenda, this year film lineup aims to explore ways to develop a future with more responsibility and raise awareness regarding topics that are central for a sustainable world.

Butheina Kazim, Founder of Cinema Akil, said that: “For the past two editions of FrancoFilm, we have collaborated with our partners to present a new way of showcasing the best of French-speaking cinema through thematized annual programs including FrancoArab Film Festival (2019 edition) and FrancoFilm: CineAfrica (2020). In this third and most challenging edition, we reaffirm our commitment to our communities by returning safely and consciously with programming that engages in a meaningful discussion around the SDGs through the lens of cinema and the moving image.”

While the SDGs are commonly reduced to climate issues this year’s film program covers broader themes such as gender equality, health and wellbeing, reduction of inequalities, peace, responsible consumption and production and more.

“We’re proud to rejoin forces with our partners at this critical moment, which presents us with an urgency to present brave and powerful cinema that tackles the critical issues challenging our shared humanity.” Butheina Kazim added.

The festival will open with the regional premiere of “RED SOIL” – “ROUGE” in French, an ecological thriller by Farid Bentoumi. Co-produced by the famous Dardenne Belgian brothers, this French-Belgian co-production was part of the official selection of Cannes Film Festival in 2020. Vibrant and capturing, Red Soil questions many aspects of nowadays society and will necessarily contribute to raise awareness about climate, environmental, and responsible production goals.

The full calendar can be found on our websitewww.cinemaakil.com.

The program

Red Soil

(FrancoFilm2021 Opening Film)

Directed by: Farid Bentoumi
2020 | French | France, Belgium | 86’ | Ecological Thriller


Nour, a young nurse, has just been hired at her dad’s chemical factory. Taking care of the infirmary, she uncovers long hidden secrets and arrangements between the syndicates, politicians, and industry leaders. Lies about polluting waste, employees being sick, work accidents … Now the young woman will have to choose between her father or become a whistleblower.

Co-presented by the Embassy of France in the UAE and the Embassy of Belgium in the UAE.

Calamity, a Childhood of Martha Jane Cannary

Directed by: Rémi Chayé
2020 | French | France, Denmark | Duration: 85’ | Genre: Animation, Adventure, Family, Western

1863, a convoy in the American West, Martha Jane needs to learn how to take care of horses to drive the family wagon. Except she ends up wearing pants and cutting her hair. The scandal that its stark character provokes will force to face all the dangers in a gigantic and wild world where everything is possible.

Presented by the Embassy of France in the UAE.

The Specials

Directed by: Olivier Nakache, Éric Toledano
2019 | French | France, Belgium | 114 | Comedy, Drama

This heartfelt comic drama from the directing duo behind The Intouchables (Rendez-Vous 2012) targets structural neglect in the French medical system. Bruno (Vincent Cassel) runs a shelter for autistic young people turned away by hospitals, while his friend Malik (Reda Kateb) mentors underprivileged youths seeking employment. Both men, based on real-life people, are constantly frustrated by the lack of consistent funding and institutional support—which eventually leads them to confront the government head-on.

With help from a spirited ensemble, The Specials—the 2019 Cannes Film Festival’s closing night selection—crackles with fiery commitment as Bruno and Malik advocate for those living on the margins.

Presented by the Embassy of France in the UAE.

The Salt of Tears

Directed by: Philippe Garrel
2020 | French | France, Switzerland | 100 | Drama, Romance

Driven by his desire to become a cabinetmaker, Luc arrives in Paris. Lost in the banlieues, he asks Djemila for directions. In the girl’s shyness, Luc glimpses the chance of an adventure. The two meet again but then Luc has to return home to his father, who is also a carpenter. There, he meets Geneviève, whom he knows from the past, and begins a romance with her. When Luc is offered a place at the renowned furniture-making school École Boulle, he follows his dream and moves to Paris, leaving Geneviève behind. Soon, a third young woman enters his small apartment, bringing the freedom of the big city with her.

Presented by the Embassy of France in the UAE and the Embassy of Switzerland in the UAE.

The Salt of Tears (dir by Philippe Garrel) US TRAILER from California Film Institute on Vimeo.


Directed by: Anastasia Mikova & Yann Arthus-Bertrand

2019 | English, Spanish, French | France | 105 | Documentary

WOMAN is a worldwide project giving a voice to 2000 women across 50 different countries. Despite its very large scale, the film offers an intimate portrait of those who constitute half of humanity. It is an opportunity to shed light on the injustices women are subjected to all over the world, but what WOMan would like to underline most is the inner strength of women and their capacity to change the world despite all the difficulties they are facing. In this new era where women’s voices resonate more and more, the aim of the film is not only to call for rights or focus on problems, but to find solutions and try to reconcile the two genders. The project deals with topics such as motherhood, education, marriage or financial independence but also menstruation or sexuality.

Presented by the Embassy of France in the UAE in celebration of International Women’s Day.

Looking for the Man with the Camera

Directed by: Boutheyna Bouslama
2019 | French, Arabic | France, Switzerland | 76 | Documentary

Looking for the man with the camera is a journey that takes the narrator from Geneva to the Syrian border, relentlessly looking for her childhood friend, a missing Syrian media activist. During the three years search we witness different stages of hope, fear and despair, where the search of a beloved one transcends the political and military chaos. Through the narrator’s and her friend’s involvement in film making, it is a self reflective questioning of war image and its role for memory and as a witness against war crimes.

Presented by the Embassy of Switzerland in the UAE.

Madly in Life

Directed by: Ann Sirot, Raphaël Balboni
2020 | French | Belgium | 87 min | Drama

Alex and Noémie, both in their thirties, want a child. But their plans are upset when Alex’s mother, Suzanne, starts acting rather bizarrely. It is due to her suffering from “semantic dementia,” a progressive neurodegenerative disorder that influences her behavior. She spends money recklessly, visits her neighbors in the middle of the night to eat slices of bread, and cobbles together a fake driver’s license for herself with scissors and glue. Suzanne the mother becomes an uncontrollable child. An unexpected and unusual parenting boot camp for Noémie and Alex!

Presented by the Embassy of Belgium in the UAE.


Directed by: Sophie Deraspe
2019 | French, Arabic | Canada | 109 | Crime, Drama

Following the murder of their parents, Antigone, her sister Ismène, her brothers Étéocle and Polynice, and their grandmother Ménécée find refuge in Montreal. They live a quiet modest life in a tiny apartment in a working-class neighbourhood. A straight-A student seemingly destined for greatness, Antigone is the glue that holds the family together. Tragedy strikes when Étéocle is wrongfully gunned down by police during the arrest of Polynice, a small-time drug dealer.

Motivated by her sense of duty towards her family and fuelled by the memory she cherishes of her dead parents, Antigone decides to jeopardize her own future to preserve that of her family. Gripping, powerful, and of-the-moment, Antigone loosely adapts Sophocles’ Greek tragedy and situates it in contemporary Montreal.

The film won the Best Canadian Feature Film at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2020.

Presented by the Embassy of Canada in the UAE.

The Swallows of Kabul

Directed by: Zabou Breitman, Eléa Gobbé-Mévellec
2019 | French | France, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Monaco | 81 | Animation, Drama, War

Summer 1998, Kabul in ruins is occupied by the Taliban. In love despite the daily violence and misery, Mohsen and Zunaira want to believe in the future. But a senseless act by Mohsen will upset their lives forever. The film was screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival. The film is an adaptation of the novel of the same name by Yasmina Khadra.

Presented by the Embassy of Luxembourg in the UAE and the Embassy of France in the UAE.

Practical information

▪ Tickets are AED 52.5 (VAT included)
▪ Tickets are now available for sale online only www.cinemaakil.com. ▪ Schedules are subject to change, please check www.cinemaakil.com for the most up-to-date schedule
▪ Box Office operating hours:
6 pm to 9 pm Tuesdays to Saturdays
▪ Sundays and Mondays closed
▪ In accordance with authorities regulations, patrons are required to wear masks except while eating and abide by social distancing measures at all times. For more information on Cinema Akil’s Safety Measures: https://www.cinemaakil.com/faq/

Cinema Akil follows strict precautionary social distancing and sanitation measures in accordance with the guidelines set by the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing, Department of Economic Development and Dubai Municipality. For more information visit https://www.cinemaakil.com/faq/
All non-English movies will have English, Arabic or French subtitles.

Download the press release of the festival

PDF - 741.3 kb
Francofilm 2021 - Press release - English
(PDF - 741.3 kb)

publié le 28/02/2021

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