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In the 1960s he was one of the kings of French comic cinema: a mild-mannered, Oscar-winning film-maker whose clownish japes and achingly funny films were known from Paris to New York and whose creative talent was hailed as genius by his counterparts.
But until very recently, Étaix, a comedian, magician and clown who Paris-Match called “the French Buster Keaton”, was in danger of being forgotten entirely. His films are timeless treasures of whimsical, physical comedy, but copyright difficulties meant that his movies had not been distributed, let alone released on home video, for decades. Étaix’s disastrous signature on a contract with a distribution company that went bust led to his films being cast into oblivion for more than 20 years. Thanks to a petition with over 56,000 signatures, including fellow film-makers Jean-Luc Godard, David Lynch and Woody Allen, Étaix’s films have now been fully restored (under his supervision, by Technicolor and Groupama Gan) and are being shown again, at festivals around the world. The end to this long-running legal dispute should be a cause for celebration among film fans, even though many, quite understandably, will never have seen one of his movies before. This year, the comic master who won an Oscar in 1963 may finally get his just deserts.
For full festival programme details log onto www.corkfrenchfilmfestival.com