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Launch of the 2020 French Film Festival

Home > Brisbane > Film Reviews | Festivals | Cultural Events | Community Events | Cinema
by May Cross (subscribe)
I'm a writer, artist and keen photographer.
Published March 17th 2020
Update March 18th 2020
Following the Australian Government’s additional restrictions (announced on Wednesday 18 March) on non-essential social gatherings, the Alliance Française French Film Festival has reviewed this advice and taken into consideration safety concerns for our patrons and staff.

We have therefore taken the difficult decision to postpone the remainder of the 2020 Alliance Francaise French Film Festival from Thursday the 19th of March to protect both our staff and patrons.

Update March 18th 2020
For more information on COVID-19 and the measures being taken to ensure a safe and enjoyable Festival experience, please visit:⁣ ⁣

Embark on an extraordinary journey
The much anticipated 31st season the French Film Festival is here. I was very lucky to have been kindly invited by host Alliance Francaise to the Brisbane launch. Not only did I get a sneaky peek at some of this year's highlights, I got to drink champagne (French naturally) with like-minded Francophiles. This year, there are even more locations spread across 12 cities, presented by screening partner, Palace Cinemas. You can catch up to 50 contemporary and classic French films, many enjoying their Australian premiere. This is the biggest French film festival outside France and also the biggest film festival held in Australia.

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Champagne at Launch of FFF (May Cross)

The Festival will launch the 2020 season with The Extraordinary, one of the most, well, extraordinary films to emerge from France in recent years. The Extraordinary is inspired by a true story and was honoured as the Closing Night Feature at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival. For twenty years, Bruno (Vincent Cassel) and Malik (Reda Kateb) have run two separate non-profit organisations where they train young people from underprivileged areas to be caregivers for autistic youth abandoned by the state system. But the authorities, concerned that they've never sought certification and that many of their carers aren't 'officially' qualified, decide to mount an investigation.

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Here are my top picks for the Festival.
Although I have not seen every one of them (yet), I have viewed the screeners most. Watch the official Festival trailer.

I have previously reviewed this film for WeekendNotes. See La Belle Epoch – Film Review. On 26 March, you can enjoy this film with French wine and cheese. Ooh, la la.

THE SWALLOWS OF KABUL (Les Hirondelles de Kaboul)
This film is based on the novel of the same name. The animated drama follows two couples living in the Afghan capital of Kabul during the 1990s and the impact Taliban rule has on their relationships. Through their individual love stories, unforgettable characters emerge amid the devastating impact of armed combat.

Henry Pick, an unassuming pizza maker, is posthumously celebrated as a brilliant author when a lost manuscript, attributed to him, becomes an overnight literary success. But there is one outspoken reader who thinks the whole thing is a fake. After he loses his wife, his job and his credibility due to his opinions, the intellectual decides to uncover the truth or trickery about the book. One for fans of literature as well as film.

The eponymous Sibyl, a psychiatrist, is dissatisfied with her life. She decides to pursue her dream of becoming a writer. (Can you see a literary theme happening here?) she "casts" her professional ethics aside, and secretly uses the private sessions of her actress patient, Margot, as inspiration for her novel. Of course, this backfires and the decision impacts both their lives. Watch the exclusive screening.

HOW TO BE A GOOD WIFE (La Bonne Epouse)
This international premiere is set in the lush region of Alsace in 1968, in a Housekeeping School that transforms teenage girls into ideal housewives The Head of the school has her quiet life interrupted when she again meets her long lost, first love. Added to that experience is the knowledge that her business is on the verge of collapse.

Here is yet another one where the central character is a woman. As the only female in the European Space Agency astronaut-training programme, single mother Sarah struggles with the limited time spent with her young daughter. This guilt escalates when she is invited on a one year space mission called Proxima, which forces her to choose between her work and her child. Sound familiar mothers? Do men usually have to make this choice? With Ava Green and Matt Dillon.

SPREAD YOUR WINGS (Donne-moi des Ailes)
Christian is a visionary scientist, who studies wild birds. I like him already, but for his son, who is a teenager obsessed with video games (of course), the idea of spending a vacation with his father in the middle of nature is a nightmare. However, the father and son soon bond over a daring project to save an endangered species, which takes them on an incredible journey.

You know I love a good zombie movie. In Haiti in 1962, a man is resurrected from the dead and trapped in a nightmare of slavery. Now, in modern-day Paris, a Haitian teenager called Melissa, who is the new girl at an elite school, is invited to join a secret 'literary sorority'. But the family secret she harbours becomes a source of fascination to others, who exploit her heritage with shocking results.

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AF Presents FFF (May Cross)

And concluding the season, with champers, will be The Bare Necessity (Perdrix), the directorial debut of Erwan Le Duc, starring Swann Arlaud, Maud Wyler, Fanny Ardant and Nicolas Maury. Set within a tiny town nestled in the woody mountains of Vosges, this sweetheart of a movie, which delighted hardened cynics when it premiered in Directors' Fortnight at Cannes 2019, looks at the romantic mayhem that ensues when an enigmatic young woman forces a stagnant family to re-define their boundaries and begin to truly live.

For further details on Alliance Francaise and the French Film Festival click here.

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Palace Cinema (May Cross)

National dates and venues for the 2020 French Film Festival:
BRISBANE: 18 March -14 April @ Palace Barracks and Palace James Street
SYDNEY: 10 March - 8 April @ Palace Norton Street, Palace Verona, Chauvel Cinema, Palace Central and Hayden Orpheum Cremorne
MELBOURNE: 11 March - 8 April @ Palace Balwyn, Palace Brighton Bay, Palace Cinema Como, Palace Westgarth, Kino Cinemas and The Astor Theatre
PERTH: 11 March - 8 April @ Palace Raine Square, Cinema Paradiso, Luna on SX, Windsor Cinema and Camelot Outdoor Cinema
CANBERRA: 12 March - 8 April @ Palace Electric Cinema
ADELAIDE: 17 March -14 April @ Palace Nova Eastend Cinemas, Palace Nova Prospect Cinema
HOBART: 19 - 28 March @ State Cinema
AVOCA BEACH: 19 March - 1 April @ Avoca Beach Picture Theatre
PARRAMATTA: 26 - 29 March @ Riverside Theatres Parramatta
BYRON BAY: 31 March - 12 April @ Palace Byron Bay
BENDIGO: 17 - 19 April @ the Star Cinema
BALLARAT: 17 -19 April @ Regent Cinemas.

If you are anxious about the current COVID-19 pandemic (and who isn't?), here is the Palace Cinemas' Response to the Corona Virus.
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*May Cross was invited as a guest
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Why? Because French cinema is so good
When: 18/3-14/4
Where: Austalia wide
Cost: see cinema for prices
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