FRENCH FILM FESTIVAL
The 34th Alliance Française French Film Festival commences in Australia on 7 May and runs through to 25 April (check out the website for details in your city or town). Artistic Director Karine Mauris said she was spoiled for choice when selecting the festival program because 268 films were released in France last year. The result, she promises, is “our most eclectic line-up to-date of the best contemporary French cinema. The 2023 programme will offer something for everyone…” Plus, the cream of Gallic filmmaking talent will feature during its run, women like Laure Calamy, Marion Cotillard, Juliette Binoche, the two Léas, Seydoux and Drucker, Isabelle Adjani, and men such as Jean Dujardin, Gilles Lellouche, Lambert Wilson, François Cluzet, Romain Duris and Grégory Gadebois.
The Opening Night film is Nicolas Bedos’s Masquerade (Mascarade), starring Isabelle Adjani, François Cluzet and Pierre Niney, a mystery thriller that has it all - glamour, sex, money and the beauty of the Côte d’Azur. Closing Night is Didier Barcelo’s Freestyle (En Roue Libre), a bittersweet comedy starring Marina Foïs and Benjamin Voisin. It tells of a road trip taken by a mismatched couple that leads to an unlikely friendship.
One of the most unusual films was the opening night at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival, Michel Hazanavicius’s Final Cut (Coupez!) starring Romain Duris. A wild zombie slasher-pic, a remake of cult Japanese movie One Cut of the Dead, it is more about making a film than the walking dead, so don’t let the violence of the first 20 minutes or so put you off! The Guardian rightly described it as “a genuine oddity” and it is a cracker.
Some of the other highlights include: Marc Fitoussi’s Two Tickets to Greece (Les Cyclades), which stars Laure Calamy, Olivia Côte and Kristin Scott Thomas. It’s a comedy about a trio of estranged childhood amies who go on a trip to the Greek Islands to rekindle their friendship; Louis Garrel’s The Innocent (L’Innocent), another comedy about family tensions, criminal escapades and unexpected romance, stars the director himself and Noémie Merlant (currently in Tár); and Quentin Dupieux’s Smoking Causes Coughing (Fumer Fait Tousser), a hilarious cautionary tale that reminds you not to take life too seriously.
But wait, there’s more than comedy in the festival. It wouldn’t be a French film festival without movies about l’amour, but there are also a couple of films examining the tragic events of the November 2015 terrorist attacks – November (Novembre) and Paris Memories (Revoir Paris) – movies about food, thrillers, documentaries, family films, films about music and culture, you name it. As Ms. Mauris said, something for everyone.
With a program showcasing 39 features and documentaries, spread over a couple of weeks and many venues, select your preferences before they sell out! Enjoy, or should I say prendre plaisir.