Five screenings to watch out for as Franco Film Festival returns to Cinema Akil

In collaboration with European embassies, the event will screen diverse stories under theme of family

The Franco Film Festival mixes classic and contemporary stories across a number of genres. Photo: Cinema Akil
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The Franco Film Festival is returning to Cinema Akil.

In collaboration with the embassies of France, Switzerland, Canada, Luxembourg, Belgium and Lebanon, the festival aims to showcase the diversity of French language films under the theme of family.

This is the fifth year the independent cinema has partnered with The Institut Francais, the cultural department of the French Embassy in the UAE, hosting the event. Though, the festival has been running for longer.

“We are looking forward to presenting the 14th edition of the Franco Film Festival with this year's line-up of films – a reflection on the diverse facets of family life and its complexities,” said Butheina Kazim, founder of Cinema Akil.

“In a diverse city like Dubai, we aim to showcase myriad experiences and definitions of our annual thematics during this robust festival presented and celebrated in their original language.”

The Franco Film Festival will run from Friday until next Thursday at Alserkal Avenue. The programme includes 10 feature films and five shorts, mixing classic and contemporary stories across a number of genres. Here are five films not to miss from the festival.

Ama Gloria (2023)

The opening night will screen French director and screenwriter Marie Amachoukeli’s film Ama Gloria.

The drama is told from the perspective of Cleo, six, during her final summer with her nanny Gloria. When Gloria has to return home to care for her own children in Cape Verde, she invites Cleo to spend the summer with her on the island.

The film is an intimate portrait of their special bond and the challenges it brings as they both face the reality that this is their last summer together.

Friday, 7pm; Sunday, 9.30pm

Stuntwomen (2022)

Also screening on opening night is the documentary Stuntwomen by Elena Avdija. It focuses on three stuntwomen, Virginie, Petra and Estelle, and follows their lives as they constantly push themselves for the films they work on.

The documentary examines the demanding profession and its toll on their bodies, mental health, personal lives and the challenges they encounter in a male-dominated industry. Through their personal stories, Stuntwomen also offers commentary on the film and television industry’s portrayal of women on screen.

Friday, 9pm; next Wednesday, 7pm

Six Feet Over (2023)

Director and actor Karim Bensalah’s Six Feet Over will also be screened.

The film, which had its regional debut at the Red Sea International Film Festival last year, follows the story of Sofiane, the westernised son of an Algerian diplomat, who is studying in France. He explores and reconnects with his roots and cultural heritage after he is forced to work in a Muslim funeral home to secure a work permit.

The screening will be followed with an in-person Q&A session with Bensalah where he will focus on the themes and production of the film.

Saturday, 7pm

Mr Blake at Your Service! (2023)

Based on the 2012 best-selling French novel Completement Crame!, the comedy-drama directed by Gilles Legardinier stars John Malkovich and Fanny Ardant.

The film centres on Andrew Blake (Malkovich), a recently widowed British businessman who decides to become a butler at a manor house in northern France, located close to a place of significance for him and his recently deceased wife.

However, his arrival as a butler changes the dynamics between the eccentric family members living there, setting off a series of events to help them rediscover their purpose and relationships in life.

Sunday, 7pm

Dounia and the Princess of Aleppo (2022)

Directors Marya Zarif and Andre Kadi's animated film blends mythology and real-life issues through a poignant and powerful story.

Dounia is a young Syrian girl who flees Aleppo during the civil war with her grandparents. As they seek refuge away from their homeland, Dounia has in her possession a few nigella seeds given to her by the mythical Princess of Aleppo to keep her connected to her home and heritage.

The film addresses themes such as migration, identity and coexistence in a fun and accessible tone, suitable for families and children over the age of six.

Saturday, 5.15pm

More information is available at

Updated: February 21, 2024, 8:52 AM