French Terms And Phrases For Cinema And Film Festivals

Written byAmélie Pinon

France is understandably proud of its film industry and even refers to it as "the seventh art".

Many French are true "cinephiles" and may go to the movies two or three times a week.

Let's build our movie vocabulary and try to have some conversations about movies, which is always a great ice-breaker.

  • actors - comediens
  • actresses - comediennes
  • adventure - adventure
  • animated films - dessins animes
  • best film - meilleur film
  • best screenplay - meilleur scenario
  • Cannes film festival - le festival de Cannes
  • Cesars - the Cesars, France's equivalent of the Oscars
  • crime - policier
  • comedy - comedie
  • director - le metteur en scene (literally-a putter in stage)
  • Golden Palm - La Palme d'Or (award given at Cannes film festival)
  • movie - le film
  • movie theater - le cinema

"Et maintenant, le moment que nous attendons tous: le Cesar du meilleur metteur en scene."

And now, the moment we have all been waiting for: the Oscar for the best director.

There is so much in common between the French and American cultures (though many concentrate on the differences) that it helps us even more to learn French.

With the movie vocabulary you have learned above, and if you knew that "maintenant" meant "now", you could easily follow what was being said.

Let's try some conversation about the movies:

Avez-vous vu le dernier film de Spike Jones?

Have you seen the last Spike Jones film?

Oui, j'ai beaucoup aime le scenario, mais pas la mise en scene.

Yes, I really liked the screenplay, but not the direction.

Est'ce que le film passe en VO ou en VF?

Is the film in the original language version or dubbed into French?

NOTE: VO stands for Version Originale and VF stands for Version Francaise.

Heureusement, en VF. Je ne comprends pas Anglais tres bien.

Happily, dubbed into French. I don't understand English very well.

The first two sentences were in the past tense.

If you refer back to my earlier lesson, you will see this past tense, the "passee compose".

It is the most commonly used tense in conversation.

That's a good thing, because it is also the easiest to form.

Just take the parts of the verb "avoir", also in Lesson 3, and use it with the past participle to form the past tense.

The past participle for each verb is formed a little differently, but if we are using "regular" verbs, the ending remains consistent.

"er" verbs- take "er" off the infinitive and add "e" "ir" verbs- take "ir" off the infinitive and add "i" "re" verbs-take the "re" off the infinitive and add "u"

  • Parler (speak) = parle
  • Remplir (fill) = rempli
  • Entendre (hear) = entendu

Look at the sentence above "Oui, j'ai beaucoup aime le scenario".

The verb "aimer" to like, is an "er" verb, so we took the "er" off, and added "e".

That is how it became "j'ai aime le scenario".

Of course, since we liked it very much, we had to add "beaucoup" in the middle.

(In the case of the "er" verbs, however, both the infinitive and the past participle end up sounding the same, even though they are spelled differently.

Both "er" and "e" are pronounced "ay".) Following these examples, try to form some past tenses with "ir" and "re" verbs:

"J'ai rempli le verre." I filled the glass.

"Il a entendu sa mere." He heard his mother.

What Did We Learn?

Say in French:

Actors and Actresses are in movies. 2.

I like crime movies. 3.

I have seen (j'ai vu) the latest film by Woody Allen. 4.

She doesn't understand French very well. 5.

He and I spoke. 6.

My mother filled the pitcher (le picher). 7.

I did not understand the boss (le patron). 8.

We finished (finir) the work (le travail). 9.

They listened to the radio (a la radio). 10.

We spoke to the director, but (mais) he didn't understand us.

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French Terms And Phrases For Cinema And Film Festivals
In this lesson, we'll learn essential French words and phrases related to the film industry.
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Amélie Pinon
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