Returning to Australia in 2018, the 29th Alliance Française French Film Festival is not to be missed. Attracting more than 174,500 attendees last year, you'll find comedies and dramas, romances and biopics, period films and animated features on Australian screens in 50 films. Showcasing iconic stars such as Juliette Binoche, Vincent Cassel, Vanessa Paradis, Isabelle Huppert and Gérard Depardieu, there's something for everyone.
Kicking off the festival for opening night is C'est La Vie!, with 117 minutes of shameless fun from go to whoa! If you've seen the 2011 smash hit The Intouchables, you'd be happy to know the same dynamic directorial duo, Éric Toledano and Olivier Nakache are back with this carefully crafted, character-based rom-com loaded with witty zingers.
A wedding threatens to erupt into an utter nightmare in this film, for the party's cantankerous planner, Max. With a 30 year celebrated career, Max has everything precisely organised for Pierre and Héléna's wedding in a breathtaking 17th century French chateau. What could go wrong? Murphy's Law that's what! Join a hypnotically jazzy soundtrack and top-notch ensemble cast.
Opening with a comedy, the AFFFF (Alliance Française French Film Festival) closing night film 50 Is The New 30 is 95 minutes of romantic comedy. Marie-Francine is a woman hitting an awkward juncture at age 50. Her husband may be a bore, but she doesn't need being kicked to the curb by a younger model and be downsized out of a job in the same week.
What do you do? Move in with your overbearing parents and open an e-cigarette boutique of course. With director and star of the film Valérie Lemercier at the helm, she effortlessly rises above the predictability of other 'comedie populaire'.
Beloved, iconic star, Juliette Binoche, stars in Let The Sunshine In. Covering a subject a lot of us face today, 'older female singledom', this is Binoche at her best! She plays a 'divorcée' with a child, searching for love. Finding only callous suitors, it lends her experiences an acid-laced comedic edge. Giants of the screen, Valeria Bruni Tedeschi and Gérard Depardieu, make cameo appearances throughout, but in the end, it's all about Binoche. Director Claire Denis is adept at projecting hot-blooded sensuality and her precision-point scrutiny of human nature makes this film more than a regular rom-com. It's prescient; reality without the pessimism.
Aside from opening and closing night, other special events include
Normandie Nue - a warm and wise tale of a proud farming community who must put their grievances aside in order to save their village.
Aurore - centres on a middle-aged woman in the midst of major personal and professional life changes.
Back to Burgundy - a nuanced parable of sibling camaraderie that puts aside past resentments to arrive at the inevitable conclusions that love is like wine. It needs time.
Number One - a thought-provoking portrayal of the down-and-dirty machinations utilised to acquire power and stay at the top of the corporate 'heap'.
Whichever floats your boat, be it Team Spirit, Crazy In Love, Modern Families, Creative Icons, Documentaries - above the boundaries, Giggle & Grin, Everyday Heroines, Tour of France or Family Time, the AFFFF 2018 has it all. If you need a little help deciding, perhaps David Stratton can guide you.