2 March 2022

The French are coming: a guide to the 33rd Alliance Française French Film Festival

| Jimmy Bernasconi
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Woman and man sitting on edge of roof

The Alliance Française French Film Festival kicks off on 2 March at Palace Electric Cinemas, Canberra. Photo: Supplied.

Excusez-moi all Jacques Demy die-hards and true fans of Truffaut, the annual Alliance Française French Film Festival is coming to Canberra. Hosted exclusively at Palace Cinemas from 2 March to 6 April, audiences will be treated to more than 40 fresh French features. Here are just some of the films you can see at this year’s festival.

Opening night

Lost Illusions is a masterpiece told with style. Photo: Supplied.

In Xavier Giannoli’s Lost Illusions, naïve young poet Lucian Chandon travels to the Beau Monde of Paris. After the local establishment conspires against him, Lucien becomes a sensation at a low-brow newspaper, attracting the attention of many admirers and publishers. Epic in scope and impact, this modern adaptation of Balzac’s classic novel is contemporary French cinema at its finest.

Love: it’s magnetic

Woman looking at man

Sami Outalbali, from the Netflix series Sex Education, takes on a new set of yearnings in A Tale of Love and Desire. Photo: Supplied.

It wouldn’t be a French film festival without a little amour. In A Tale of Love and Desire, a young Algerian exchange student discovers a collection of ancient Arabic erotica while studying at the Sorbonne. There’s also Anaïs in Love, a romantic comedy about a young girl who begins an affair with an older man, but finds herself falling for his wife. Claire Denis’ Fire is packed with arthouse talent, starring Juliette Binoche alongside Vincent Lindon. Olivier Bourdeaut fans shouldn’t miss Waiting for Bojangles, a modern adaptation of the international bestselling novel of the same name.

Cannes highlights

Two women and a man walking

Teaming up with celebrated co-writers Léa Mysius and Céline Sciamma, Jacques Audiard delivers yet another directorial masterclass with Paris, 13th District. Photo: Supplied.

For those of us who couldn’t attend during the pandemic, there’s also a variety of recent Cannes Film Festival favourites to catch up on. In Paris, 13th District, Palme d’Or winner Jacques Audiard explores youth and disillusionment, and in Peaceful, a real-life cancer specialist delivers a stirring debut performance. Everything Went Fine is a powerful drama about euthanasia, and The Braves follows two young girls who chase their acting dreams.

Riotous french wit

Five men at an industrial site

Love Songs for Tough Guys is a deadpan but giddy romantic fable. Photo: Supplied.

If slow-burns aren’t for you, consider one of these light-hearted romps. In Love Songs for Tough Guys, crime boss Jeff tries to win the heart of a supermarket cashier with love poems he doesn’t have the courage to deliver. From South America to Sweden, Employee of the Month takes us on an overdue journey around the world as an uptight inspector clashes with a laidback civil servant. In Rumba Therapy, a lonely bus driver decides to reconnect with his daughter by signing up to her dance classes, and in Murder Party, Nicolas Pleskof brings Cluedo to life with an all-star cast that will keep you guessing until the very last ‘shot’.

We are women

Six women

Laure Calamy stars in Full Time, for which she received the Best Actress award at Venice 2021. Photo: Supplied.

Keeping the program fresh is a selection of films with a female focus. For a Binoche booster, don’t miss Between Two Worlds, which follows an undercover writer working on a ferry boat who uses the lives of her shipmates as the inspiration for her new book. In Full Time, Laure Calamy plays a hard-working mother pushed to her limits, and in Madeleine Collins, Virginie Efira plays an enigmatic mother living a double life.

French family fun

Eight young boys cheering and a rusty chassis

Little Nicholas’ Treasure will strike a chord with audiences young and old. Photo: Supplied.

Give your kids a cultural kick with this year’s selection of family-friendly films. Set in the early 1960s, Little Nicholas’ Treasure follows a group of friends as they devise a plan to keep a hold of one of their own after his father gets a promotion in the South of France. Or, if it’s animation you’re after, Pil’s Adventures takes us on a quest led by an orphan disguised as a princess.

For festival session times and more information, visit the official Alliance Française French Film Festival website.

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