The biggest French film festival outside of France
Alliance Francaise's French Film Festival is the largest celebration of French film in the world outside of France. 25,000 people attended in 2017, and in 2018, there should be even more people going based on early ticket sales. The French Film Festival is one of the best chances to see the highlights of French cinema in theatres in Brisbane.
The opening night gala on March 8 at Palace Barracks features a delightful comedy set at a French chateau wedding, C'est la vie! Drinks will be served on arrival followed by an after screening cocktail party with live entertainment, canapes and gift bags.
The festival will close on April 4 with another gala, this time at Palace Centro with 50 is the New 30, a comedy about having to move back in with your parents at 50. With cocktails served both before and after the screening.
There are far too many films on during the festival to even talk about more than a few, so I will just look the highlights and encourage you to explore further yourself. With the movies and sessions below, remember these will sell out fast, so make sure you book in advance online.
Along with the opening and closing night galas, there is the Taste of France session on Thursday March 15 at the Palace Barracks. On arrival at 6:15 pm, enjoy fine Burgundy wine and fantastic French cheese before the 7 pm screening of Back to Burgundy (Ce qui nous lie). The story is about siblings returning home to take over their ill father's winery. One of the core features of the film is the changing seasons in the Burgundy wine-growing area over the course of the year.
In memory of a Centenary since WWI, there will be a special screening of the movie See You Up There (Au revoir la-haut). It starts at 6 pm with a pre-screening cocktail party, followed by a piano performance by internationally acclaimed pianist Maxime Zecchini. The performance will feature works written for the left-hand only including Ravel's famous Concerto Pour la Main Gauche, a piece commissioned by a pianist who had lost his right arm during the First World War. See You Up there is the story of two World War I veterans who come up with a scam to sell fake memorials for the war. With a range of elements, this movie is funny, tragic, art house, surreal and hauntingly beautiful, often at the same moment.
Montparnasse Bienvenüe explores new starts. Paula is broke and back in Paris but determined to succeed. This film is a character study of both Paula and the people she meets on her journey. Montparnasse Bienvenüe is a movie that hangs, and succeeds, on the performances of its cast.
The talk of the festival is Beats Per Minute (120 BPM or 120 battements par minute) by Robin Campillo. In the 1990s, the AIDS epidemic seemed unstoppable while governments avoided action. ACT UP Paris was an advocacy group that came together to take the fight to authorities in the hope of getting some action. This is a personal story of struggle with AIDS, but also in many ways, a discussion of the types and nature of activism and how (and if) it can really make a difference.
Other movies to watch out for in the line up include Custody, Double Lover, Orchestra Class, Redoutable and The Workshop. Visit the website to explore further. There is even a 'If You Liked...' tool which makes recommendations based on other French Films you have already enjoyed.
Categories and Themes
The festival is divided up into both categories and themes. These show the focus of the festival which shifts year to year. One theme this year is Everyday Heroines, which explores female protagonists. There is also a LGBT category for the festival, celebrating Australia's recent legalizing of same-sex marriage.
Tickets, Deals and Tickets
Given that the Brisbane French Film Festival is so popular, it is recommended you buy tickets online in advance, especially to the hot films of the festival.
Multi-film passes are available with 5, 10 or 20 film passes on offer. The more tickets you buy, the cheaper they will be. If you buy them at the box office, you can secure seats to the hottest sessions.
School screenings are also available with dedicated morning sessions, school group discounts and education packs to accompany the film.
Other student discounts are available for movies starting before 4:30 pm on weekdays. Bring your student card with you because the offer is only valid for full-time students.
Before or after the movie
If you want to get your French on either before or after the movie, both cinemas are well placed to find at least one French restaurant nearby. In Fortitude Valley, there is the Madame Rouge Bar and Bistro for some fine French cuisine and of course, a selection of nice wines. Near Palace Barracks is Libertine, which offers a unique selection of both French and Vietnamese cuisine. Don't forget the cocktail bar at the Emporium Hotel near James Street in Fortitude Valley for one of the best selections of French wines in Brisbane.
Enjoying French wine at the Emporium Hotel in Fortitude Valley