A French retrospective for our 52nd edition

Le Schpountz Marcel Pagnol © mk2 Films, CMF, Les Films Marcel Pagnol

Happy New Year from Fema La Rochelle! We’re looking forward to a French retrospective for our 52nd edition.
The whole team and association of the Festival La Rochelle Cinéma wish you the happiest of new years and hope to welcome you to La Rochelle for the 52nd Fema, held June 28 to July 7, 2024.

2024 will be cinema’s year of Marcel Pagnol and Fema is delighted to present a major retrospective of this iconic French filmmaker.
Not only did he shape 20th century literature and theater — from the dawn of the sound era on, Marcel Pagnol also mastered the grammar of cinema. An artisanal filmmaker, working with his troupe of actors (Raimu, Fernandel, Orane Demazis, Josette Day, etc.) and a longstanding team of collaborators, he shot his films in the natural settings of Provence with nonprofessional performers, influencing the greatest Italian filmmakers. Vittorio De Sica considers Jofroi (1933) the first neorealist film. As for Roberto Rossellini, he claims he could never have made Rome, Open City had he not seen The Well-Digger’s Daughter. Finally, Jean-Luc Godard, one of whose three favorite films is Angèle, said : ”Pagnol brought a great deal to cinema. Neorealism and cinéma vérité, in the long run, came out of Pagnol. […] What he brought to cinema rang true. Today Pagnol’s films, like Guitry’s films, hold up because they are simple.”

After 2023’s Sacha Guitry retrospective, Fema continues its rediscovery of French popular cinema of the 1930s and 40s.
Marcel Pagnol’s cinema abounds in humanity, modesty and tenderness. While the comedy of his films has long been appreciated, today their melodramatic elements are being reexamined. Pagnol’s work is rich and modern, focusing on family, peasant dignity and pride in manual labor, respect and solidarity; ecology is also addressed, with the theme of returning to the land and maintaining an equilibrium between humanity and its natural environment.

Marcel Pagnol’s masterpieces have been shown frequently on French television, but now a new generation will discover them on the big screen and in versions beautifully restored by Hiventy, thanks to Nicolas Pagnol and Compagnie Méditerranéenne de Films with the support of CNC. At Fema, 13 films will be shown, from Marius to Manon of the Spring by way of the little-known Merlusse. A “Pagnol Promenade,” hosted by specialists, critics and cinema personalities, will accompany this retrospective from June 28 to July 7, 2024.

This retrospective is presented in partnership with Carlotta Films for mk2 Films which will release 10 films on July 24.
In collaboration with the Cinémathèque française (Marcel Pagnol full retrospective on July 10–21), Compagnie Méditerranéenne de Films, mk2, ADRC and L’Avant-Scène Cinéma.