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Found in Translation: 15th Rendez-Vous with French Cinema

05/17/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall was packed for the opening night of the Rendez-Vous with French Cinema; in 2008, you may recall, the opening night featured Marion Cotillard's Oscar winning turn as Edith Piaf in "La Vie en Rose." This year's opener, a Cold War espionage thriller, Christian Carion's "Farewell" stars the actor/ directors Emir Kusturica and Guilllaume Canet, with cameos by the Americans Fred Ward and Willem Dafoe, illustrating something of the synergy of world cinema.

Antoine de Clermont Tonnerre, President of French Unifrance introduced the elegant evening recounting a scene from Woody Allen's "Happy Ending," where the film within the film was trashed by American critics for its incoherence, and loved as genius by the French. His punch line: Thank goodness for the French.

With Rendez-vous, Americans may agree, but in reverse, observing the special qualities of these French offerings: Francois Ozon's "The Refuge," for example, is the story of a pregnant ex drug addict and the gay brother of the baby's father, suggesting open possibilities for parenting. Christophe Honore's "Making Plans for Lena" stars an excellent Chiara Mastroianni as a divorced mother of two who unravels emotionally during a summer holiday in Brittany.

A James Bond spoof, Michel Hazanavicius's "OSS 117-Lost in Rio" may challenge many Americans' sense of humor about the Holocaust, anti-Semitism, racism, and sexism. As my child observed about "The Producers," "it offends everyone." Hazanavicius, in town to introduce his film had no problem with possible rancor. What's next for him? The director said he is scripting a silent movie.