Once Upon a Time in Montpellier…

CC Image courtesy of ianxn on Flickr

For more than 30 years the Festival international du cinéma méditerranéen de Montpellier has served cinephiles in Languedoc an excellent selection of movies. Over a week at the back end of autumn Montpellier plays host to a diverse range of flicks from Hollywood blockbusters, like Apocalypse Now, to local low-budget art house films.

The biggest films are screened in the main room at the Corum, a grand space and wonderful place to watch a movie. In recent years French gangster flick Mesrine, classic Western Once Upon a Time in the West, and the aforementioned Apocalypse Now have taken centre stage. These screenings are preceded by introductions by someone involved with the movie. So, before the screening of the Leone classic Once Upon a Time in the West it’s co-writer and horror legend Dario Argento talked about shooting the movie.

For film buffs this is a rare treat. All the introductions are in French but the films themselves are shown in version originale. So, Mesrine was in French but Apocalypse Now was in English with French subtitles. For expats with limited French this limits the selection of movies somewhat. Most of the films are in French but the odd English language flick, aside from the main event in the Corum, is often also on the bill.

These smaller films are screened in the equally wonderful Centre Rabelais on the Esplanade. This old cinema, with its beautiful facade, houses a modern, comfortable screening room. For those of us that relish cinemas almost as much as films it’s definitely worth a visit for the sense of history alone. The cinema also hosts various films clubs, such as the highly recommended Ciné-Club Jean Vigo, and mini-festivals throughout the year. Other screens at Corum and musée Fabre are also used for the Mediterranean film festival.

A pass for the whole festival will set you back more than €75 (£60) and individual tickets are available for less than €10. Students get a discount. Some local businesses also get cheaper tickets for their staff. If you work in Montpellier ask your HR department about the possibility of getting tickets.

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