It’s that time of year again; when cinephiles get prepared for a marathon of movies – a veritable orgy of features and documentaries. The Alliance Française French Film Festival turns 30 in 2019 and the celebrations begin in Sydney on March 5 and then 10 locations across Australia.
The Alliance Française French Film Festival is the largest festival of cinema outside France. Maybe it’s our obsession with films on SBS or maybe it’s we secretly wish our film industry was so diverse and productive. Whatever it is Aussies do love French film.
It may be the AFFF’s 30th birthday but it’s us – the lovers of French movies who are getting all the presents. Comedies, period dramas, farce, thought-provoking documentaries, even a Western in English – there all on show from Perth to Parramatta, Byron Bay to Adelaide and Brisbane to Hobart.
This year’s festival is a particularly stellar mix of cerebral Cannes break-outs and French box-office hits. Emerging film-makers, as well as perennial French superstar directors, are all part of the 2019 line-up.
The acting stalwarts of Le Bleu’s film industry all do a star turn this year. Carole Bouquet, Jean Dujardin, Audrey Tautou, Juliette Binoche, Vanessa Paradis, Daniel Auteuil and Vincent Cassel. Once more the grand dames of cinema Française, Charlotte Rampling and Catherine Deneuve are back as is the newest ingenue of l’Hexagone – Lily-Rose Depp.
With 11 Cesar (the French Oscars) nominations Sink or Swim tells the story of a male synchronised swim team. First-time director Gilles Lellouche received a standing ovation at the unmistakably French film’s premiere at Cannes.
Both documentary and fashion buffs will revel in Celebration: Yves Saint Laurent and Jean Paul Gaultier: Freak & Chic. Celebration has finally been released after the death of Pierre Bergé in 2017. As the former life and business partner of the fashion giant, Bergé had suppressed the release of the film after a falling out with director Olivier Meyrou during filming in 2001.
At the media launch assembled guests were treated to that Western – The Sisters Brothers. Directed by Jacques Audiard, the film is set in Gold Rush-era Oregon and California. Starring John C Reilly as Eli Sister and Joaquin Phoenix as Charlie, his younger, volatile brother the film is as much a road movie (without a road) as it is an exploration of family loyalty, insatiable gold fever and murder. Jake Gyllenhaal and Riz Ahmed offer excellent support with an outstanding screenplay by Audiard and Thomas Bidegain, based on the novel of the same name by Patrick deWitt.
Opening night in all cities features the luminous Audrey Tautou in the screwball crime romance The Trouble With You.
Oscar winner Jean Dujardin stars as the dashing idiot Jacques in Benoit Delepine and Gustavo Kervern’s comedy I Feel Good.