What’s On: 30th Alliance Française French Film Festival

french film festival banner

The Alliance Française French Film Festival celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2019, and tickets are on sale from January 31 to the fifty-four films gracing this year’s festival line-up. The festival is acknowledged as the largest assemblage of French cinema outside of France, and is presented in association with the Embassy of France in Australia and Unifrance Films.

For such a momentous birthday, Artistic Director Philippe Platel has lovingly selected 54 features and documentaries – the biggest line-up in the Festival’s proud history.

I was fortunate to see a screening of The Sisters Brothers (Les frères Sisters) as part of the media launch of the festival. I was sceptical about a French film set in perhaps the most stereotypically American setting – the wild west – and starring such recognisable Americans as John C Reilly, Joaquin Phoenix, and Jake Gyllenhaal, but it’s easy to see why the film garnered director Jacques Audiard the Silver Lion (Best Director) at the 2018 Venice International Film Festival. With dry humour and a distinctly French ‘flavour’ to the cinematography and scripting despite the overt American-ness of everything else, the film was gut-wrenching, bittersweet, and beautiful.

John C Reilly in The Sisters Brothers (Les frères Sisters). Imagery provided by Kath Rose & Associates.

The 30th festival will present films across 12 distinct categories with self-explanatory titles ranging from “Paris Snapshots,” to “Summertime,” “Lighten Up,” and “Critically Acclaimed”. A selection of outstanding films from Belgium, Canada, and Switzerland will also be showcased via the “Across Borders” category.

The festival will also celebrate the artistry of several emerging young filmmakers alongside the legends of French film, including Dominique Rocher (The Night Eats the World / La nuit a dévoré le monde), Coralie Fargeat (Revenge), Elsa Amiel (Pearl), Yann Gonzales (Knife+Heart / Un couteau dans le coeur), Cécila Rouaud (Family Photo / Photo de famille) and Lukas Dhont (Girl). Many of these films will feature in the Festival’s thrilling new “Dangerous Sphere” strand.

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Sink or Swim (Le grand bain). Imagery provided by Kath Rose & Associates.

Other award winners to keep an eye out for:

  • Claire Denis’ mesmerising sci-fi drama, High Life, awarded the FIPRESCI Prize at the 2018 San Sebastián International Film Festival, with a cast led by Juliette Binoche and Robert Pattinson.
  • Sink or Swim (Le grand bain) from Gilles Lellouche, the number one 2018 French box office hit about an all-male synchronised swimming team formed by a group of despondent forty-somethings.
  • Christophe Honoré’s Sorry Angel (Plaire, aimer, courir vite), an emotionally rich romance set in early 1990s France which won the prestigious 2018 Prix Louis Delluc.
  • The Image Book (Le livre d’image) from the legendary Jean-Luc Godard; a work of audio-visual poetry awarded the inaugural Special Palme d’Or at Cannes 2018.
  • A restored version of Alain Resnais’ 1961 para-surrealist masterpiece, Last Year at Marienbad (L’année dernière à Marienbad).

In addition to the film screenings there will be four Special Events throughout the festival:

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The Trouble With You (En liberté). Imagery provided by Kath Rose & Associates.

Opening Night Gala – Thursday 14 March, 6:15pm

Screening of The Trouble With You (En liberté) starring Audrey Tautou, followed by an after party featuring wine, canapes and complimentary gift bag.

Love Wins! – Thursday 21 March, 6:15pm

Wine & canapés inspired by French Flavours, followed by a screening of the critically acclaimed drama, Sorry Angel (Plaire, aimer, courir vite).

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Sorry Angel (Plaire, aimer, courir vite). Imagery provided by Kath Rose & Associates. 

Taste of France – Wednesday 27 March, 6:15pm

French wine and cheese followed by screening of the vinaceous documentary Wine Calling (Le vin se lève).

Closing Night – Sunday 14 April, 5pm

An indulgent afternoon soiree followed by the choral comedy Kiss & Tell (Voyez comme on danse).

Last Year at Marienbad (L’année dernière à Marienbad). Imagery provided by Kath Rose & Associates.

And the winners are…

The winners of the 2019 Cesar Awards (the Oscars of the French film industry) were announced on February 22, and several of the films screening at this year’s Alliance Francaise Film Festival took home the gold!

  • Jacques Audiard, won Best Director for The Sisters Brothers.
  • Philippe Katerine won Best Supporting Actor for his work in French actor-turned-director Gilles Lellouche’s Sink or Swim (Le Grand Bain).
  • Alex Lutz won Best Actor for his performance in Guy (which he also directed).
  • Dilili in Paris won Best Animated Film – the plot follows a young girl’s fearless quest to investigate some mysterious kidnappings in Paris during the Belle Epoque.

The Alliance Française French Film Festival will take place from 14 March – 14 April at the Palace Barracks and Palace James Street (formerly Palace Centro) cinemas. For the full line-up, including special events, and ticketing information, visit the Alliance Française French Film Festival website.

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