The Intouchables (2011)

We usher in Rendez-Vous With French Cinema 2012 tonight with our standby-only Opening Night screening of French phenom The Intouchables, but things really get moving this weekend with in-person appearances, special Family Films tie-ins and the debut of our first-ever sidebar series, Rendez-Vous+.

Get a head start on Friday with an afternoon screening of Pater, a wry, winking eye into French politics, with star Vincent Lindon in person (encores Sunday). Try your luck with a standby-only screening of Farewell, My Queen, the lavish hit straight out of Berlin about the final days of Marie Antoinette (a noted Diane Kruger) and her court, with director Benoît Jacquot in person. Then sober up with 17 Girls, inspired by the notorious pregnancy pact of several Massachusetts teenagers, with co-director Muriel Coulin in person.

Saturday and Sunday are no less packed. Americano is the story of a young French man who travels to Los Angeles to settle his mother’s estate, with stars Mathieu Demy and Chiara Mastroianni in person Saturday (standby only). The film also stars Salma Hayek. Set amid the German occupation, Free Men chronicles an Algerian immigrant (A Prophet’s Tahar Rahim) commissioned by Nazis to spy on a local mosque, where he finds a much different outfit than he expects. (Rahim and director Ismael Ferroukhi will be in person for the Saturday screening.) On Sunday, catch a raw, bracing look at contemporary revolution in Low Life, with director Nicolas Klotz in person.

The Painting (2011)

We’ve also crossed Rendez-Vous with our weekly Family Films series this year for two special presentations on Saturday and Sunday. Zarafa (Saturday) is the exuberant tale of a 10-year-old boy—escaped from kidnappers and determined to save his giraffe friend—as related to children by their grandfather. The Painting (Sunday) follows escapades of the resident of a canvas, many of them only half-drawn. Both films will be presented with their subtitles read aloud.

Rendez-Vous+ also kicks off Friday with a slate of little-seen classics and documentaries to complement the main selection’s more contemporary fare. Join Jean Rollin’s cult of cults with The Shiver of Vampires, or check out Into Our Own Hands, a multifaceted documentary about what happens when a French lingerie factory goes bankrupt. Dive into the diverse full selection here.

Tickets begin at $10 for members for screenings in the main slate, and $10 for everyone for Rendez-Vous+. The festival’s complete schedule is available here.