Skip to Main Content

French & Francophone Film: A Research Guide

The Library of Congress has collected a rich array of resources for learning about films and genres from throughout the French-speaking world, from early silent films to New Wave cinema; from Francophone African films to contemporary French blockbusters.


Frances Clark Butler, artitst. Jean Vigo L'atalante and Zero de Conduit. [between 1970 and 1980]. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

The Library of Congress' collection features several hundred Francophone (French-language) films, ranging from early silent films by the Lumière Brothers to narrative feature-length films of the sound era, including works by directors such as Jean Renoir, Chantal Akerman, François Truffaut, Sembène Ousmane, Claire Denis, and Denis Villeneuve. The Library's Francophone film collection includes movies not only from France but also from Belgium, Senegal, Canada, Cambodia, Algeria, Haiti, and more, providing a wide variety of perspectives and examples of filmic techniques from around the world. This guide highlights those resources for anyone interested in Francophone film, from the casual film buff to the academic researcher.

This guide provides links to selected films in the Library's catalog as well as to print and digital resources for learning more about Francophone film. Topics include movements and genres, the film industry in France and other French-speaking countries, Francophone actors, and Francophone film festivals. Also included are materials by critics, film scholars, directors, and actors, as well as filmographies, collections of film magazines, and film-oriented dictionaries.

Subpages (those under the Movements and Genres page) provide a very brief overview and contextualization of each category and several representative films in each category, all found in the Library of Congress catalog. Also provided from the catalog are book and sound resources offering more in-depth information on each category, both in French and English.

One of the strengths of the Library's collection is the availability of materials in both English and French. Noteworthy resources include the following: A group of silent shorts produced in 1903-04 by the innovative George Méliès, included in the Paper Print Collection of films registered for U.S. copyright protection between 1894 and 1915; documentary recordings featuring notables such as Sarah Bernhardt and Charles de Gaulle; and recordings of North American French speakers and performers, such as documentaries of the Acadian community in northern Maine.

The France in America Collection presents digitized items from the Library of Congress collection originally made available as the France in America digital library project, a part of the Global Gateways initiative. Conceived in partnership with the Bibliothèque nationale de France, France in America/France en Amérique was launched as a bilingual digital library. It explores the history of the French presence in North America from the first decades of the 16th century to the end of the 19th century. The original site was completed in fall 2006. Many of the items in this digital collection were digitized specifically for this partnership. To access materials from the Bibliothèque nationale de France, explore the Gallica External digital library platform.

Below is a select bibliography of general works and finding aids on Francophone film available at the Library of Congress.

Suggested titles link to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. Links to additional online content are included when available.