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The Alliance Française French Film Festival 2011

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If you haven't already noticed, I am a film enthusiast and one of the major events of the Australian film calender is the annual Alliance Française French Film Festival, which is being held in;

Sydney between the 8th and 27th of March,
Melbourne between the 9th and 27th of March,
Canberra and Brisbane between the 16th of March and 3rd of April
Perth and Adelaide between the 23rd of March and 3rd of April.

It is no secret that film distribution in Australia is somewhat problematic - often marred with continuous delayed release dates and as a result many feature films receive straight-to-DVD releases, for example the 2009 Jim Carrey/Ewan McGregor feature I Love You Phillip Morris, still has not received national distribution in Australia! In regards to world cinema, many feature films simply do not receive national distribution, despite big-name directors and stellar casts.

For example the latest directorial effort from Luc Besson, Les aventures extraordinaires d'Adèle Blanc-Sec.

Also, the popular action-thriller from actor/director Richard Berry, L'immortel, starring Jean Reno and Kad Merad.

The long-awaited debut feature film from Romain Gavras, Notre jour viendra, starring Vincent Cassel.

As well as L'homme qui voulait vivre sa vie, directed by Eric Lartigau, starring Romain Duris.

Each of these features currently have no sign of being released in Australian cinemas.

Due to such sporadic film distribution in Australia, film festivals, such the Alliance Française French Film Festival, often provide a film enthusiast's only chance to catch-up with feature films, which seem unlikely to receive an Australian theatrical release.

The film selection offered at the 2011 Alliance Française French Film Festival, is pretty impressive to say the least - there are a few of the 2010 Cannes favourites on offer, such as Tournée, directed by Mathieu Amalric and Des hommes et des dieux, directed by Xavier Beauvois, as well as Hors-la-loi, a feature film which is currently in competition for the 2011 Best Foreign Language Film, at the Academy Awards. There are also the latest releases, from celebrated directors such as François Ozon, Guillaume Canet, Olivier Assayas, Xavier Beauvois, Bertrand Tavernier, Roselyne Bosch and many more. So let's get stuck into it and see what is on offer for francophiles!

The opening night film of the festival is Potiche, directed by François Ozon. The comedy, set in the 1970s, stars Catherine Deneuve, Gérard Depardieu and Fabrice Luchini. This is sure to be the big hit of the festival!

Carlos is actually a 3-part mini-series directed by Olivier Assayas. It appears to be screening as a feature film at the festival. This mini-series which is based on the life of Ramírez Sánchez, was recently the recipient of a Golden Globe Award for Best Miniseries or Television Movie and Venezuelan actor Édgar Ramírez, who stars in the title role, has received several nominations for his impressive performance, including a Golden Globe nomination, London Critics Circle Film Awards nomination and Screen Actors Guild Awards nomination. Certainly a must-see feature!

Moving on Des hommes et des dieux was the film everyone at the 2010 Cannes Festival was talking about and it was widely predicted to take out the Palme d'Or, however President of the Jury Tim Burton surprised everyone with his selection of Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives. Des hommes et des dieux went on to receive the Grand Prix. This well-received drama is directed Xavier Beauvois and has an all-star cast, including Lambert Wilson, Michael Lonsdale, Olivier Rabourdin and Philippe Laudenbach.

Speaking of the 2010 Cannes Film Festival, Hors-la-loi was perhaps the most controversial release due to it's depiction on the1945 Sétif massacre. Hors-la-loi is directed by Rachid Bouchareb and the feature film shares some similarities with his previous directorial effort, Indigènes, including the same cast and similar thematic concerns, however it is not a sequel. Hors-la-loi stars Jamel Debbouze, Roschdy Zem and Sami Bouajila. This is a great addition to the festival line-up and Hors-la-loi is currently in competition for the 2011 Best Foreign Language Film, at the Academy Awards.

Another film which was in competition at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival, was Bertrand Tavernier's latest, La Princesse de Montpensier. The period-drama has a stellar cast, including Mélanie Thierry, Lambert Wilson, Gaspard Ulliel and Grégoire Leprince-Ringuet.

La Rafle directed by Roselyne Bosch, was well-received by critics and audiences upon it's release in France. It's cast includes Mélanie Laurent, Jean Reno, Sylvie Testud and Gad Elmaleh. The film recalls the harrowing events of the Vel' d'Hiv Roundup.

One of the big films of 2010 in France was the delightful Tout ce qui brille, starring Leila Bekhti, Géraldine Nakache (who was also co-director with Hervé Mimran), Virginie Ledoyen, Manu Payet, Audrey Lamy and Linh Dan Pham. The comedy-drama is charming and a certain crowd pleaser.

Another blockbuster release was from director/actor Guillaume Canet, Les petits mouchoirs, a drama with an all-star cast including, François Cluzet, Marion Cotillard, Benoît Magimel, Gilles Lellouche and Jean Dujardin.

Un Balcon sur la mer is an engaging thriller directed by Nicole Garcia. The film stars Jean Dujardin and Marie-Josée Croze and this was another well-received feature film in France.

Comme les cinq doigts de la main was another film-noir to be released in France in 2010. Directed by Alexandre Arcady, the film has a stellar cast, including Patrick Bruel, Vincent Elbaz, Pascal Elbé, Eric Caravaca, Mathieu Delarive and Françoise Fabian.

The mystery-thriller Crime d'amour is another festival highlight, starring Ludivine Sagnier, Kristin Scott Thomas, Patrick Mille and Guillaume Marquet and was directed by Alain Corneau.

Gardiens de l'ordre is a crime-thriller starring Cécile De France and Frédéric Testot. Directed by Nicolas Boukhrief, the slick drama is a welcomed addition to the line-up.

Also screening is the crime-drama Tête de turc, directed by Pascal Elbé and starring Roschdy Zem, Pascale Elbé and Simon Abkarian.

The latest from Bertrand Blier, the black-comedy Le bruit des glaçons, starring Jean Dujardin and Albert Dupontel, is also screening.

Another comedy/drama is L'Italien, starring Kad Merad, Valérie Benguigui, Roland Giraud and Guillaume Gallienne. Directed by Olivier Baroux, this feature was also a hit in France.

Mathieu Amalric's Tournée, a hit at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival, is also screening. Amalric, who also stars in the feature, received the award for 'Best Director' at the festival. This comedy/drama is set in the hidden world of burlesque.

Pierre Salvadori's latest comedy/drama De vrais mensonges, is also being fast-tracked to the festival! Starring Audrey Tautou, Nathalie Baye, Sami Bouajila and Daniel Duval, this feature will also be a hit of the festival.

Another highlight of the festival is from director Jean Becker, entitled La tête en friche. The drama stars Gérard Depardieu, Gisèle Casadesus and François-Xavier Demaison.

These are just some of the highlights of the festival, head to the official Alliance Française French Film Festival website, for session details and the film program. For ticketing details select your city and follow the links.

Also keep up to date on special events and special guests at the festival with the official Facebook page.
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Why? A fantastic festival with many of the releases being fast-tracked to Australia!
When: Sydney between the 8th and 27th of March, in Melbourne between the 9th and 27th of March, in Canberra and Brisbane between the 16th of March and 3rd of April and in Perth and Adelaide between the 23rd of March and 3rd of April.
Where: In Selected Cinemas.
Cost: Check indiviual ticketing venues
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