Zombies, rap artists, feminists and hopeless romantics are set for the ultimate rendezvous at Canberra’s Palace Electric cinema.
The annual Alliance Francaise French Film Festival as always brings a host of delightful and eclectic characters to big screens around the country, landing in Canberra next month.
From drama to romance, kids’ movies and, this year, a larger than usual serving of comedy, 39 films across all the genres will captivate the Francophiles and cinephiles of the nation’s capital.
The traditional lineup of events will accompany the festival, including the opening night on 9 March.
Alliance Francaise’s Hortense de Pelleport says audiences are in for a treat in the feature film of the night, Masquerade.
“It’s scandalous and very French,” she laughs.
“It’s a film about lust, money and manipulation of very rich people on the French Riviera, so audiences will see a lot of the beautiful coastline of Nice.
“It stars the best French actors of the moment – Pierre Niney, Isabelle Adjani and Francois Cluzet, and is very entertaining.”
Then three suitably fabulous femmes – Laure Calamy, Olivia Cote and Kristin Scott Thomas – star in the wildly entertaining new comedy Two Tickets to Greece for Ladies Night on 16 March.
On 19 March, the Taste of France event, which is usually a gastronomical attraction, will take the form of a Sunday afternoon tea with French patisseries from La Buvette.
Guests will aptly watch Sugar and Stars, a film based on champion pastry chef Yazid Ichemrahen’s autobiography and starring influencer Riadh Belaiche.
This year the festival also features two events in a new format – Flix and Wine.
Audiences will enjoy a glass of French wine before watching one of two films.
The first, on 21 March, is the Belgian film Playground, a gripping story billed as “arguably one of the most truthful, emotional and memorable films made about childhood”.
The second, on 23 March, is The Tasting, which, fittingly, is a movie about wine tasting “best served with a glass of French wine”.
Human Rights Night falls on 30 March and features Annie’s Fire, a film about abortion rights in the 1970s.
Laure Calamy plays Annie, who, after seeking an illegal abortion, finds her calling as an activist with a feminist group of local women and doctors offering judgment-free support and family planning.
Billed as an “ode to female solidarity”, it serves as “not only a compelling reminder of how things were, but also a warning of how they could yet be”.
The final event, on closing night, features the touching comedy Freestyle, but Hortense says there are plenty of highlights and must-sees outside of event nights.
One of them is Final Cut, which was the opening-night film at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival.
“I am excited for people to see that one,” Hortense says.
“The first 30 minutes you go through a bit of a zombie film, so it’s a bit gory and feels like you don’t understand what’s going on.
“After that, it’s an absolutely hilarious, laugh-out-loud parody of how the zombie film was made.”
Hortense says the thriller November is another unmissable film.
Described as “an edge-of-your-seat, deep dive into one of the most incredible manhunts in European history”, it follows the lead investigators of the French anti-terrorism services in the aftermath of the 2015 Paris attacks.
“I’ve actually been holding off streaming this one because I wanted to see it on the big screen,” Hortense says.
“I say with French movies there’s always something so personal about them. The way the characters work throughout the films, you can connect to them and it makes you think about your day-to-day life. You’re up for debate and want to discuss with people, talk over the movie or the broader themes it explores.”
Alliance Francaise French Film Festival 2023 runs from 9 March to 5 April. Visit the website for more information, including the full schedule or to book tickets.