I met Rachel Malcolm through a tweet, when the fashion company I work for was looking for an experienced sub-editor. She tweeted me, I tweeted back, she came for an interview… and she has been working three rows down from me ever since.
In addition to being incredibly detailed and able at her job, Rachel runs Francofille, a blog dedicated to French movies, old and new. She’s always aware of the latest releases, TV and cinema alike and has interviewed some of the biggest French actors and directors.
She’s also incredibly generous with her knowledge of and contacts within French cinema. I owe her the discovery of Spiral as well as my attendance at a preview of Les Invisibles, which also happens to be the hundredth film she’s reviewed.
How do you get your French cinema news and updates?
It’s a pretty random process. I’m a slightly obsessive Francophile so I read French magazines, subscribe to newsletters, visit France fairly often and follow a lot of French people on Twitter. I hear about new films in the course of this and blog or tweet about them when I can.
How did you come up with the brilliant title of Francofille?
It took me ages. The blog started off being called ‘French film challenge’ because the original goal was to watch 52 French films in 52 weeks. I was looking for a play on words and finally found one. Now I’m a bit older, and a mother, I don’t think of myself as a fille any more but never mind! I’m happy with the title.
Why did you choose Blogger as a platform?
It’s ultra easy to use, which is essential as I am no techie. I like the clean layout too.
How do you combine being a freelance editor, a mum and writing Francofille?
My daughter was born exactly a year after I started Francofille and my productivity nosedived – I only managed ten reviews in the second year of the blog, compared with 52 in the first. Things have picked up since then as I now get a reasonable amount of sleep and can stay awake through a two-hour film! Being unable to watch films, read books or write (due to exhaustion) made me realise how important the blog, and my creative life, is to me, and I value it even more now. Work wise, I’ve been freelance for six years, working in both magazines and online media. I love my job, but blogging gives me much more creative freedom as there are no deadlines, word counts, or clients. It’s enormously satisfying to get feedback from readers – I couldn’t believe it when I got my first comment, back in January 2010.
You’ve interviewed quite a few directors/actors for the blog - who was your favourite and why?
Clotilde Hesme. She was like a taller, cooler, more stylish version of me. She was friendly, open and considerate – at one point she got up to close the door because there was noise in the corridor, and she also offered to hold my Dictaphone to make sure it picked up her voice. She was about to start filming Les Revenants (The Returned) when we met, and it’s funny to see it now such a huge hit on Channel 4.
Your blog doesn’t just cover French cinema, it also dips into French series, particularly Spiral which you’re quite a big fan of. Why do you like it so much and also why do you think it’s working in the UK so well?
I love it because it’s gritty, raw, and has several strong female characters who aren’t defined by the fact that they are female. The cast also has a good range of ages and backgrounds. It doesn’t deal in clichés and all the characters are flawed in some way. I think it’s been a hit over here because it’s so different. There are certain scenes (like Pierre and Josephine outside the wedding in season 4 – regular viewers will know what I am referring to) that I’m pretty sure you would never see in a mainstream UK or US drama.
How do you want your blog to evolve?
I’d like to do more interviews and, of course, get invited to more premieres and previews!
And lastly could you please recommend your top five favourite French films?
La haine (1995) – my favourite film of all time, French or otherwise.
A bout de souffle (1960) – the first Nouvelle Vague film I fell in love with.
Le mari de la coiffeuse (1990) – a beautiful example of the way many French films focus on female desire and pleasure in a way that would be unthinkable in English-language cinema.
Intouchables (2012) – it made me laugh so much, and is almost ridiculously feelgood.
It was very hard to choose a fifth, but I’m going to go with Les émotifs anonymes (2010) – sweet, funny, quirky and typical of the low-key French films that I’ve come to love.
Blogger Adventure is a semi-regular column on Fashion Abecedaire where I interview bloggers I know and like about their inspiration, their creative process and their blogging habits. You can keep up to date with the most recent posts by previously featured bloggers by signing up to the Fashion Abecedaire newsletter.