Scale New Heights at the 32nd ALLIANCE FRANÇAISE FRENCH FILM FESTIVAL

February 5, 2021

Returning to Palace Cinemas for its fabulous 32nd incarnation, the Alliance Française French Film Festival, will beguile and engage audiences nationally from March 2 until mid-April at 25 locations, all of which will be adhering to stringent Covid protocols to guarantee Festival patrons a safe cinema experience.
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Scale New Heights at the 32nd ALLIANCE FRANÇAISE FRENCH FILM FESTIVAL

Returning to Palace Cinemas for its fabulous 32nd incarnation, the Alliance Française French Film Festival, will beguile and engage audiences nationally from March 2 until mid-April at 25 locations, all of which will be adhering to stringent Covid protocols to guarantee Festival patrons a safe cinema experience.

Awash with high-octane drama, seductive romance, nail-biting suspense, historical tales that will enthral and comedies guaranteed to elevate your spirits, the 2021 Alliance Française French Film Festival will showcase multiple Première screenings and special events to be revealed today when the Festival’s website goes live at: http://www.affrenchfilmfestival.org

Presented by the Alliance Française in association with the Embassy of France in Australia and the wonderful support of their Presenting Sponsor, Peugeot Australia, this year’s choice line-up of 37 features has something to delight the most discerning cinephile.

And we’re delighted to announce that the effervescent Catriona Rowntree, one of the country’s most popular television presenters, will be our 2021 Festival Patron.  Catriona, who is known to audiences throughout Australia as the host of Nine Network’s long-running travel show Getaway, has harboured a love for France and French cinema since childhood.  Indeed, her passion for French culture has led to her to the Alliance Française, where she’s currently a French-language student!

Courtesy of StudioCanal Australia, the Festival will launch with the World Premiere of Eiffel, a sumptuous, romantic, costume drama which explores the passionate love affair between celebrated engineer Gustave Eiffel, whose company designed and built France’s iconic Eiffel Tower, and Adrienne, a mysterious woman from his past.  Portraying these ardent lovers will be French superstar Romain Duris, and the magnetic Emma Mackey.

And for Closing Night the Festival will screen #Iamhere (jesuislà) an endearing culture-clash comedy from director Éric Lartigau (The Bélier Family), starring Alain Chabat as an eminent French chef who travels to the other side of the world after he falls in love via Instagram.

What lies between is a myriad of delights, including a newly restored 4K edition of director Jean-Luc Godard’s masterpiece, Breathless (À bout de souffle) (1960), acknowledged as one of the earliest and most potent examples of French New Wave (nouvelle vague) cinema.

With a screenplay by Jean-Luc Godard and starring Jean-Paul Belmondo and Jean Seberg as a pair of narcissistic young lovers on the run from authorities following a violent and impulsive crime, no debut film since Citizen Kane (1942) has had as great an influence on cinematic trends and styles.

Some of the manifold highlights of this year’s line-up include:

ALINE

Directed by Valérie Lemercier

Cast:  Valérie Lemercier, Sylvain Marcel & Martine Fontaine

Inspired by the extraordinary life of singing sensation Céline Dion, Aline is the story of a teenager from Quebec whose powerful voice propels her onto the world stage to become the darling of millions.

ANTOINETTE IN THE CÉVENNES (Antoinette dans les Cévennes)

Directed by Caroline Vignal                                                   

Cast: Laure Calamy, Benjamin Lavernhe, & Olivia Côte

School teacher Antoinette’s holiday plans are thwarted when her secret lover’s wife organises a surprise family trekking holiday in the Cévennes National Park, prompting Antoinette to follow their track, by herself, with Patrick, a protective donkey.

APPEARANCES (Les apparances)

Directed by Marc Fitoussi                               

Cast: Benjamin Biolay, Karin Viard, Lucas Englander & Laetitia Dosch

The wickedly entertaining new film from writer/director Marc Fitoussi, Appearances is a sexy, Chabrol-esque marital thriller, set against a luxe Vienna backdrop.

ARAB BLUES (Un divan à Tunis)

Directed by Manele Labidi                                   

Cast: Golshifteh Farahani, Majd Mastoura, & Aïcha Ben Miled

When Parisian psychotherapist Selma returns to her hometown in Tunisia, she is met with an eclectic town of locals that are both bewildered by her practice, and in desperate need of her help.

BLACK BOX (Boîte noire) 

Directed by Yann Gozlan                                                           

Cast: Pierre Niney, Lou de Laâge & André Dussollier

Uncovering secrets carries a devastating toll in this thrilling story about one man’s determination to get to the bottom of what caused a horrifying plane crash.

THE BIG HIT (Une triomphe)

Directed by Emmanuel Courcol                                                

Cast:  Kad Merad, Marina Hands & David Nelo Ayala

Inspired by remarkable true events, multi-award-winning writer Emmanuel Courcol’s rousing, Cannes-selected directorial debut follows a dedicated out-of-work actor whose life takes an unexpected career turn.

BYE BYE MORONS (Adieu les cons)

Directed by Albert Dupontel                                                    

Cast: Albert Dupontel, Virginie Efira & Nicolas Marié

In this audacious dark comedy, a seriously ill woman tries to find her long-lost child with the help of a man in the middle of a bureaucratic burnout, and a blind archivist prone to over-enthusiasm.

CALAMITY, A CHILDHOOD OF MARTHA JANE CANNARY  (Calamity, une enfance de Martha Jane Cannary

Directed by Rémi Chayét                                        

Voice Cast: Salomé Boulven, Alexandra Lamy & Alexis Tomassian

Before she was Calamity Jane, great American frontierswoman, she was a high-spirited 12-year-old girl named Martha, fiercely loyal to her family with a defiant streak. Stunningly animated, this film will delight children and their parents alike.   Winner of the Cristal for a Feature Film at the 2020 Annecy International Animation Film Festival.

DE GAULLE

Directed by Gabriel Le Bomin                                             

Cast: Lambert Wilson, Isabelle Carré & Olivier Gourmet

Spectacularly mounted, this fine film stirringly depicts a crucial period in the life of one of the most famous figures of modern French history.  Fans of biographical drama will not be disappointed.

DELETE HISTORY (Effacer l’historique)

Directed by Gustave Kervern & Benoît Delépine   

Cast: Blanche Gardin, Corinne Masiero, Denis Podalydès & Vincent Lacoste & Benoît Poelvoorde

If the complexities of the online world leave you feeling lost, confused or furious, then this laugh-out-loud film is for you. Directed by renegade duo Gustave Kervern and Benoît Delépine, Delete History won the 70th Silver Bear Berlinale prize at Berlin International Film Festival.

DELICIOUS (Délicieux)

Directed by Eric Besnard                                              

Cast: Grégory Gadebois, Isabelle Carré & Benjamin Lavernhe

The mouth-watering new film from director extraordinaire Éric Besnard is sure to delight, as it depicts France’s enduring love affair with gastronomy. Premiering internationally, this splendid 18th century comedy is a wildly enjoyable tale of reignited passion, mentorship and revenge.

FAHIM, THE LITTLE CHESS PRINCE (Fahim)

Directed by Pierre-François Martin-Laval                             

Cast: Ahmed Assad, Gérard Depardieu & Isabelle Nanty

Finished The Queen’s Gambit and looking to fill the chess-sized hole in your life? Try this inspirational underdog story about a Bangladeshi refugee boy who takes on the world of chess (with a charmingly gruff Gerard Depardieu by his side).

FINAL SET (5ème set)

Directed by Quentin Reynaud                                                  

Cast: Alex Lutz, Ana Girardot & Kristin Scott Thomas

A tense and nail-biting drama about the high-pressure world of professional tennis playing, which follows a once promising tennis player’s last shot at winning the French Open.

GAGARINE

Directed by Fanny Liatard & Jérémy Trouilh                         

 Cast: Lyna Khoudri, Alséni Bathily & Finnegan Oldfield

When the housing project that he calls home is condemned for demolition, 16-year-old aspiring astronaut Youri knows there is no way it can go down without a fight. Premiering at Cannes in 2020, Gagarine is a powerful story of class, race, imagination and wonder.

THE GODMOTHER (La daronne)

Directed by Jean-Paul Salomé                                      

Cast: Isabelle Huppert, Hippolyte Girardot & Farida Ouchani

The magnificent Isabelle Huppert returns to the Festival with a triumphant performance in this laugh-out-loud, French noir comedy, where the gritty realism of Breaking Bad meets the stoner comedy of a Seth Rogen movie.

IBRAHIM

Directed by Samir Guesmi                                                      

Cast: Samir Guesmi, Abdel Bendaher & Luàna Bajrami

Selected for Cannes Film Festival, prolific French actor, Samir Guesmi, makes his directorial debut with this emotionally rewarding, coming-of-age story that explores the complex and intimate relationship between a young man and his father.

LOVE AFFAIR(S) (Les choses qu’on dit, les choses qu’on fait)

Directed by Emmanuel Mouret                                        

Cast: Camélia Jordana, Niels Schneider & Emilie Dequenne

When two strangers are left alone in the French countryside, they fill their time by regaling each other with stories of love gained and lost. Referred to as a “more serious Love Actually”, Love Affair(s) is an entertaining and surprising exploration of the complexities of modern love.

THE MAN WHO SOLD HIS SKIN (L’homme qui a vendu sa peau)

Directed by Kaouther Ben Hania                                                 

Cast: Yahya Mahayni, Monica Bellucci & Dea Liane

What would it take to convince somebody to become a living canvas? For Syrian refugee Sam Ali, it is the promise of being reunited with the woman he loves. Provocative and powerful, this modern Faustian tale is the most biting art-world satire seen since The Square.

MANDIBLES

Directed by Quentin Dupieux                                             

Cast: Grégoire Ludig, Adèle Exarchopoulos, & India Hair

Cult comedy maestro, Quentin Dupieux, is back with another absurdist film about two lovable losers and a giant fly in this totally bewildering, yet sweet and sincere story that is sure to tickle the funny bones of Festival audiences.

MISS

Directed by Ruben Alves                                  

Cast: Alexandre Wetter, Pascale Arbillot & Thibault de Montalembert

Starring androgynous model Alexandre Wetter as a young boy who dreams of conquering the Miss France pageant, Miss is an inspiring, though-provoking film that tears apart our preconceptions of gender and challenges us to rethink the status quo.  

NIGHT SHIFT (Police)

Directed by Anne Fontaine                                                              

Cast:  Virginie Efira, Omar Sy, Grégory Gadebois

Set over 24-hours, three world-weary cops start to question the moral complexities of their jobs when ordered to escort a man to a plane for deportation to a country that will kill him.

PERFUMES (les parfums)

Directed by Grégory Magne                                                    

Cast: Emanuelle Devos, Grégory Montel & Sergi López

This quintessentially French comedy pairs sad-sack divorced dad Guillaume (Call My Agent!’s charming Grégory Montel) with the egotistical, but highly talented perfumer Anne Walberg (Emmanuelle Devos) in a classic odd-couple story.

POLY

Directed by Nicolas Vanier                                                           

Cast: François Cluzet, Julie Gayet & Patrick Timsit

Travel back to the 1960s to meet Poly, the Shetland pony, who has inspired children ever since she jumped from the pages of Cécile Aubry’s much-loved novel. This visually splendid new feature film – set in the breath-taking Cévennes region – will delight and inspire a whole new generation.

THE ROSE MAKER (La fine fleur)

Directed by Pierre Pinaud   Cast:  Catherine Frot, Melan Omerta & Fatsah Bouyamed

The brilliant Catherine Frot takes centre stage as Eve, a world-renowned rose farmer on the verge of bankruptcy, who hires three workers with no horticultural skills and must train them to help save her business.

SKIES OF LEBANON (Sous le ciel d’Alice)

Directed by Chloé Mazlo     

Cast: Alba Rohrwacher, Wajdi Mouawad & Isabelle Zighondi

A poetic blending of the personal and political, this Cannes selected film combines live action with animation to create a vivid picture of Lebanon and a heart-breaking story of love during wartime, inspired by the family history of filmmaker Chloé Mazlo.

SMALL COUNTRY: AN AFRICAN CHILDHOOD (Petit pays)

Directed by Éric Barbier                                          

Cast: Jean-Paul Rouve, Isabelle Kabano & Djibril Vancoppenolle

Inspired by an incredible true story, this is the powerful story of a young boy growing up in Burundi during the 1990s, whose world was turned upside down by the tidal wave of violence and unrest from neighbouring Rwanda.

SUMMER OF 85 (Été 85)

Directed by François Ozon                                      

Cast:  Félix Lefebvre, Benjamin Voisin, & Valeria Bruni Tedeschi

Told in flashback and reminiscent of a retro 80s teen movie, François Ozon’s latest film is a thrilling and hot-blooded tale of love and obsession. Blending sensuality with mystery, Summer of 85 is France’s edgier answer to Call Me By Your Name.

THE WEDDING SPEECH (Le Discours)

Directed by Laurent Tirard                                              

Cast: Benjamin Lavernhe, Sara Giraudeau & Kyan Khojandi

35 year-old Adrian is stuck in a mid-life crisis.  In addition to being a neurotic hypochondriac, tonight he’s trapped in an endless family dinner, his girlfriend is not answering his texts and his future brother-in-law asks him to prepare a speech for his wedding, even though he abhors public speaking.  Could it get any worse?

National dates and venues for the 2021 Alliance Française French Film Festival are:

SYDNEY: 2 – 31 March Palace Central, Palace Verona, Palace Norton Street, Chauvel Cinema & Hayden Orpheum Cremorne

 

MELBOURNE: 3 – 31 March Palace Cinema Como, Palace Balwyn, Palace, Brighton Bay, Palace Westgarth, Astor Theatre, The Kino & Pentridge Cinema

 

CANBERRA: 4 – 31 March Palace Electric Cinema

 

PERTH: 10 March – 7 April Palace Raine Square, Luna Leederville, Windsor Cinema, Luna on SX & Camelot Outdoor Cinema

 

HOBART: 11 – 20 March State Cinema Hobart

 

BRISBANE: 17 March – 13 April Palace Barracks & Palace James Street

 

ADELAIDE: 23 March – 20 April Palace Nova Eastend Cinemas & Palace Nova Prospect Cinemas

 

BYRON BAY: 24 March – 14 April Palace Byron Bay

 

PARRAMATTA: 8 – 11 April Riverside Theatres Parramatta

 

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