A familiar event on the Australian cultural calendar, this year marks the 27th annual Alliance Franšaise French Film Festival. Not only is it the biggest film festival in Australia, it's also the biggest festival of French films outside of its motherland.
This year follows in the footstep of previous years, with it's selection of contemporary films that include comedies, dramas, documentaries, blockbusters, independent films and much more. Entertaining seven cities in nine weeks, there'll be glamorous opening nights, Q&As and of course special events with famous figures of French film.
For the opening night, Rosalie Blum is the chosen one. A 96 minute drama-comedy, starring NoÚmie Lvovsky, it's about a random encounter that results in the unexpected.
Is it fate that a series of coincidences bring together a group of lost souls or is it our need for human connection and wanting to be loved that draws us together? A directorial debut from Julien Rappeneau, it's filled with warmth, wit and impeccable performances.
The closing night 105 minute long film Contempt stars Brigitte Bardot and Jack Palance. For me, there's no one that compares to Bardot to date. She's the epitome of sexy. This newly restored version opens with one of the most famous shots of the legendary Bardot. In its original format, it was the first time colour was used by Director Jean-Luc Godard.
This story is about a screen writer named Paul, who's working on a script of The Odyssey, directed by film giant Fritz Lang. Clashes ensue as art, commerce and personal affairs are added to the mix, which compromises Paul's marriage to Camille. Things get a little bit complicated when Paul courts favour with brash producer Jerry Prokosch.
Stunning compositions flood the screen and one of the most heartbreaking scores was created for the film by Georges Delerue.
Critics' prize winner Mon Roi is a 128 minute long drama starring one of my favourites, Vincent Cassel. A volatile marriage between two Parisians are on display as the film follows a lawyer who enters rehab after a skiing accident.
As she's recuperating, she reflects on her relationship with her ex husband. From lust filled beginnings to a deteriorating dynamic, it's littered with hurt, anger and broken trust. Prompted by the observation of a therapist, her accident may not have been as accidental as it seems.
Under the category of 'love', the 105 minute long drama, romance La Belle Saison is an award winning new film by Catherine Corsini. She explores the duty and courage required to pursue happiness and love, no matter what the cost.
When a 20 something year old farm girl and a dynamic woman involved in the feminist movement lock eyes, they quickly fall deeply in love and become inseparable. Reality bites when a sudden emergency forces Delphine back to the farm and the couple have to face a far different reality. Capturing the beauty not just of the vibrant streets of Paris in the 70s, you'll be privvy to the beauty of the French regions as well. With radiant performances and impeccable direction, this is French cinema at its absolute finest.
If intensity is what you're after, Juliette Binoche in the 99 minute drama The Wait is the one for you. Stunningly shot and giving one of the finest performances of her career, Binoche gets an unexpected guest who says she's the girlfriend of Anna's (Binoche) son, the absent Giuseppe, who apparently invited her to spend Easter together.
Though a surprise to Anna, she invites her to stay and they begin to form a connection while both await Giuseppe's arrival. However, her son's absence remains unexplained. This tale of two women from different generations gradually coils with expectation, building to an unforgettable conclusion.
The category 'extraordinary stories' will lead you to Marguerite. Catherine Frot is an amazing actor and I loved her in Haute Cuisine. In this 127 minute long drama she plays a wealthy woman who loves to sing passionately for her friends and devotees. Unfortunately, she's terrible!
Amazingly, no one tells her of her extreme lack of talent, but an unexpected rave review gives it a life of its own that leads her to plan a public recital. How will the charade continue?
This web of deceit and delusion is about to come crashing down. Marguerite's performance will fascinate, appal and amuse. Richly complex and cringingly hilarious, this is one for all lovers of fine cinema done well, and great music done very badly.
If you're keen to experience the latest sophisticated, vibrant and daring films from France, be sure not to miss this annual festival which is a collaboration between the Embassy of France in Australia and six Alliances Franšaises around the country. The website is the best place to start to mark off and plan all the movies you'd love to see. With around 48 to choose from, they're neatly lined up into categories, making it easier for you to choose the genre you're interested in.
Take note that not all films or special events are available in every city that's participating. Don't forget to REGISTER to win some amazing prizes. Would you prefer a 1st prize trip for two to France, a 2nd prize trip for two to New Caledonia, a 3rd prize luxury escape for two with Peugeot or a 4th prize pamper package from Avene skincare products? As they say, be in it to win it Monsieur, Madame and Mademoiselle.
Enjoy the festival and the special event screenings that include glasses of French wine, canapes, cheese, chocolate and mini desserts on arrival, depending where you are and be sure to book ahead as these events are notoriously sold out early. Amusez-vous au cinÚma!