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Friday, 10 August, 2001, 17:32 GMT 18:32 UK
French film hit opens in Edinburgh
Audrey Tatou
The film has propelled former unknown Audrey Tautou to stardom
The most successful French film for years will open the Edinburgh Film Festival on Sunday - before its UK release in October.

Le Fabuleux Destin d'Amelie Poulain has been seen by more than seven million French people since its release this summer - despite a critical mauling.

Audrey Tatou
The film's wide-eyed optimism has had a great appeal
The film, a whimsical and nostalgic tale about a Parisian waitress, has propelled its formerly unknown lead Audrey Tautou to stardom.

It has also earned the approval of both French prime minister Lionel Jospin and president Jacques Chirac.

But many French critics berated the film for its cosiness and nostalgia - qualities which seemed to endear it to French audiences.

Melancholy lives

Directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, the film is set in Paris's Montmartre Quarter where the heroine works in a bar.

The film starts with the death of Princess Diana in 1997 - an event which inspires the waitress to try to lighten the melancholy lives of her neighbours and workmates.

The director has said that he wanted to recapture the sense of euphoria which swept France after the country's victory in the 1988 world cup.

The film has a 1950s look and is full of visual gags, evoking a Paris which many feel is far from present-day reality.

Despite the controversy surrounding it, the film has been seen as a boost from France's state-subsidised film sector and a victory in its struggle against the cultural influence of the United States.

The film will be released in Britain on 5 October as Amelie From Montmartre.

See also:

11 Jul 01 | Scotland
Festival films in the frame
26 Feb 01 | Entertainment
Censors snip French shocker
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