Stylish berets, smelly cheeses and good coffee – Movies.ie takes a look at this year’s french film festival at the IFI. Stylish berets, Gauloise smoke wafting in from outside, smelly cheeses and, of course, great coffee . . . it can only be the much-loved French film festival at the Irish Film Institute, Eustace Street. Kicking off from today and running through till the 20th of November, the festival returns with a crop of new francophone films celebrating one of todays most vibrant countries and cinemas. With ten days of new features, stunning restorations and VIP guests, the French Film Festival 2008 is set to enhance its reputation as one of the key events in the cinema-going calendar… This year’s festival places an emphasis on new features, with a total of 20 Irish premieres, some of which have only just been released domestically in France. The opening film, Faubourg 36 promises to have you singing (and possibly dancing) in the aisles with director Christophe Barratier paying tribute to the bygone days of musical theatre in Paris. Screen icon Catherine Deneuve is at the forefront of this year’s festival with three films featuring her wonderful presence, including Aprčs lui, Gaël Morel’s story of a grieving mother; Je veux voir, a documentary about her visit to war-torn Lebanon; and the charming closing film, Arnaud Desplechin’s dysfunctional family saga Un conte de Noël (trailer below). Undoubtedly one of the highlights of the programme is the screening of the restored French version of Max Ophuls’ masterpiece Lola Montčs.. This screening of the gleaming new print from the Cinémathčque française will truly be a major cinematic event. For the family, the festival is giving the chance to revisit Albert Lamorisse’s classic children’s film Le Ballon rouge/The Red Balloon – the charming story about a little Parisian boy (played by the director’s son Pascal) who finds an unlikely companion in a big red balloon. As always, guests are an important part of any festival and this year the IFI welcomes three important faces of French cinema to Dublin. Actress Elsa Zylberstein, who has recently charmed IFI audiences in I’ve Loved You So Long, will introduce her new film La Fabrique des sentiments. The much loved character actor Jean-Pierre Darroussin will present Robert Guédiguian’s new film Lady Jane, and veteran director Jean Becker will return to Ireland with his recent film Deux jours ŕ tuer, which was partially shot in Galway. For further information on the festival visit here for the complete festival brochure.