A few years ago, I was taking a class at the Alliance Française and while our teacher graded our tests, she put a film on for us. It was a hilarious spy send-up called OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies and starred two captivating actors named Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo. The film was directed by Michel Hazanavicius and was clever, sexy and hilarious.
Now, of course, everyone knows this brilliant team from their beautiful Academy Award winning film, The Artist. But the OSS 117 films (there are two of them by this team – Cairo and Rio) were my introduction and if you haven’t seen these films, I recommend them highly.
Based on the series of novels, OSS 117, by French author Jean Bruce (incidentally, also the inspiration for James Bond), Dujardin plays the suave Hubert Bonisseur de La Bath, alias OSS 117 who, of course, ends up relying heavily on the beautiful Larmina El Akmar Betouche (Bejo) to solve the crime which takes place at a poultry farm in 1955 Cairo.
This year’s Fifth Annual Films on the Green Festival, featuring French films on the big screen for FREE at various Manhattan parks throughout the summer, will kick off with OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies on Friday June 1st at 8:30 pm in Central Park (Cedar Hill at 79th St and 5th Ave). The films are all subtitled in English and are a great free evening out – so turn off you cell phones, pull together a picnic basket and some friends and come watch Dujardin and Bejo in action!
2012 Films on the Green Festival Schedule:
June 1: OSS 117: Cairo Nest of Spies, Central Park–Cedar Hill (at 79th)
June 8: The Snows of Kilimanjaro, Washington Square Park
June 15: War of the Buttons, Washington Square Park
June 22: The Axe, Tompkins Square Park
June 29: Donkey Skin, Tompkins Square Park
July 6: Tell No One, Riverside Park – Pier I (at 70th St)
July 13: Persepolis, Riverside Park – Pier I (at 70th St)
Sept 6: Jules and Jim, Columbia University – Low Library Steps*
*All films at 8:30 pm except September 6th screening at Columbia University, 7:30 pm.
For more detailed information: FrenchCulture.org
By Jackie Sanders