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Alliance Franšaise French Film Festival 2014

Home > Adelaide > Cinema | Festivals | Film Reviews
by Gill Oscar (subscribe)
'So many worlds, so much to do, so little done, such things to be'. (Tennyson)
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Australia's 25th French Film Festival

French Film Festival Adelaide

Did you know that the annual French Film Festival, screening around Australia in March and April, is the biggest film festival in Australia? And that our French Film Festival is the biggest in the world outside of France? Such is our amour for all things Franšaise.

This year's Adelaide season features 45 films screening in 128 sessions over 20 days at the Palace Nova Eastend. There's something to cater for all tastes, from drama to animation, from documentary to comedy, from blockbusters to arthouse. There are also the usual Festival highlights, including opening and closing night parties and other special events.

Adelaide is last cab off the rank on the Film Festival's circuit of mainland capitals. That's lucky for us, as we can find Australian reviews to help us select from the variety on offer.

Film aficionados can buy discounted multiple film passes or vouchers for 5, 10 and 20 films at the Nova Eastend box office or online. As with any film festival you can expect popular films to sell out, so book in advance to secure your seat. You can also buy single tickets from the box office or the film festival website, subject to availability.

French Film Festival Adelaide


Program browsing is central to the pleasure of attending a film festival. The more you look, the more you'll find to interest you.

As you'd expect from French film, a fair proportion of the films on offer here deal with relationships. Parents and children. Husbands, wives and lovers. Children and dogs. Sportspeople and their sport.

It is the different contexts in which the relationships occur that makes each story different, just as each human story is different.

French Film Festival Adelaide
Image appears courtesy of production company

If you're a French cinema novice, you might like to choose one of the films with an actor you already know. Gabriel Byrne appears in "Just a Sigh" ("Le temps de l'aventure"), a mature age version of "Before Sunset" in which a French woman meets an intriguing stranger on a train. There's Tim Roth in "M÷bius" on Espionage Night, and Diane Kruger in "Me, Myself and Mum", a vignette-style comedy that won hearts at the Cannes Film Festival.

You'll also find films with Scandinavian stars Mads Mikkelson and Michael Nyqvist, as well as with French actors who are household names in western cinema: Juliette Binoche, Daniel Autueil, Isabelle Huppert and Emmanuelle Seigneur, wife of Roman Polanski, who directs her in "Venus in Fur".

Don't just play it safe though: read through the program and see what resonates with you.

Opening Night Gala: 20 March

The Festival kicks off at 6 pm on 20 March with an opening party, drinks, canapÚs and entertainment. You might meet French actor and singer Pierre Rochefort, the guest of honour, before heading in to the cinema to see the Adelaide premiere of 'The Finishers' at 8 pm.

French Film Festival Adelaide
Image appears courtesy of production company

'The Finishers' or 'De Toutes Nos Forces' is inspired by a true story like so many great films of the last year. It reads like a cross between a family drama and a stirring sports film. A wheelchair-bound youth uses the sport of triathlon to try to overcome the distance between him and his former Ironman father.

Tickets are $60, $55 for Alliance Franšaise d'Adelaide & Palace Movie Club Members

Closing Night: 8 April

Alliance Franšaise members and Film Festival supporters were invited to vote for their favourite film by the legendary and unique French Director Jacques Tati. Their choice, "Mon Oncle", screens at 7 pm on 8 April to close the 2014 Festival.

French Film Festival Adelaide
The quintessential image from "Mon Oncle", appears courtesy of the production company

Closing night tickets cost $27 or $23 for Alliance Franšaise d'Adelaide & Palace Movie Club Members. Tickets include one glass of wine on arrival from 6.30 pm.

The special guest for the Closing Night Classic is the French Ambassador to Australia.

Special Event: Espionage Night

Thursday 27 March is shaping up as the highlight of this year's Festival. Dress to impress in James Bond or Bond girl style for a night to remember.

$40 ($35 for Alliance Franšaise d'Adelaide & Palace Movie Club Members) buys your entry to a spy-themed party from 6.30 pm, then the screening of "M÷bius" at 8.30 pm.

French Film Festival Adelaide
Image appears courtesy of production company

French Film Festival Adelaide
Image courtesy of production company

"M÷bius" stars Jean Dujardin ("The Artist'), Tim Roth ("Lie to Me") and emerging talent CÚcile de France in what is described as a twist-laden thriller that is sexy and stylish, like its Monaco location.

The party features DJ TR!P (official DJ of the Adelaide Fringe Parade) and a contest for best spy costume, along with a special exhibition by Joshua Smith from Espionage Gallery). Ticket price includes one free glass of wine on arrival.

Film Review: Bright Days Ahead

The preview screening for this year's Alliance Franšaise Film Festival was "Les Beaux Jours" or "Bright Days Ahead".

Bright Days Ahead
Image appears courtesy of Les Films du Kiosque and 27.11 Production

We meet 60 year old Caro (Fanny Ardent) on her first visit to Bright Days Ahead, a private club where retirees meet each day for a series of classes and activities. Caro's well-meaning daughters have bought her a trial membership. They want to fill the emptiness left by the death of her best friend nearly six month earlier, followed by her impulsive decision to retire.

After an inauspicious start to her club membership, Caro experiences a rebirth of sorts, thanks to an unexpected affair with an instructor twenty years her junior.

Bright Days Ahead
Image appears courtesy of Les Films du Kiosque and 27.11 Production

Where an American film might have multiple subplots, here the focus remains tightly on one woman and her relationships: with her lover, with her husband and, more sketchily, with her daughters. Ardent has the screen presence and expressiveness to carry it off, and is ably supported by Laurent Lafitte and Patrick Chesnais.

The female writers, director and star invite us to reflect on the choices we can make at any age, and what pathways will lead us to happy days ahead.

Bright Days Ahead
Image appears courtesy of Les Films du Kiosque and 27.11 Production

For me however, "Bright Days Ahead" was ultimately unsatisfying. It has neither the whimsy and insouciance of a comedy nor the depth and catharsis of a top relationship drama. No amount of talent can compensate when a 94 minute film essentially lacks substance.

Mums and Bubs session

A Mums and Bubs session at 11 am on Thursday 3 April features a cougar-toy boy romantic comedy, "It Boy".

French Film Festival Adelaide
Image appears courtesy of production company

Tickets are a bargain at $10, and children under 3 are admitted free. Just make sure you take your bubs home with you, rather than running off in search of your own delicious toy boy.
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*Gill Oscar was invited as a guest
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Why? Because French people make a drama out of every little thing
When: 6 or more sessions a day for 20 days, starting March 20
Phone: 8232 3434
Where: Palace Nova Eastend, 3 Cinema Place (off 250 Rundle St)
Cost: General admission $20 / $17 conc / $15.50 Palace Club and Alliance Francaise members
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