Alliance Française French Film Festival reveals bold line-up of 39 feature films
Celebrated chef Guillaume Brahimi joins leading Australian artists within the film industry, Samantha Lang, David Wenham AM and Phillip Noyce AO as festival ambassadors
Ticket sales open Thursday, 9th February 9am: affrenchfilmfestival.org
Australia, 7th February, 2023 — Today the Alliance Française French Film Festival 2023 revealed its complete crème-de-la-crème programme of contemporary French films. The 34th edition of the largest celebration of French film outside of France, arrives across Australia from 7th March – 23rd April. The culturally curious will once again venture to the cinema and be seduced by a season of electrifying French storytelling.
Setting the scene with a heady dose of glamour, lust and manipulation, Nicolas Bedos’ Masquerade opens the festival. An official selection of Cannes Film Festival 2022, the sexy and oh-so-French drama starring Pierre Niney, Isabelle Adjani and Marine Vacth transports cinemagoers to the dreamy shores of Côte d’Azur. Closing the festival on a bittersweet high, is a road trip of sublime joy and tears in Didier Barcelo’s Freestyle, featuring rising star Benjamin Voisin and the enchanting Marina Foïs.
Speaking on the festival’s imminent arrival, Karine Mauris, Festival Artistic Director and Cultural Attachée to the French Embassy in Australia, said: “2023 represents our most dynamic programme to-date.”
“The hilarity of a meta-zombie comedy, suspenseful thrillers and historical dramas that will have you clinging to the edge of your seat, family-friendly flicks and of course, l’amour in all its forms!”
“With over 153,000 eager spectators in attendance last year alone, we’re looking forward to reaffirming our emphasis on discovering the latest and greatest French talent and bringing impactful storytelling to new audiences.”
2023 cohort of ambassadors
Joining the Alliance Française on its vision to immerse newcomers in its culture are festival ambassadors, acclaimed chef Guillaume Brahimi, lauded blockbuster film director Phillip Noyce AO, renowned actor David Wenham AM, and internationally recognised filmmaker Samantha Lang.
Returning ambassador Wenham said: “Culture is the beating heart of French society. Over the past century, French Cinema has not only captured major and minor events and documented changes in political, social and daily life, it has been a major influence on how the rest of the world approaches making films and telling stories in a continuing journey to understand who we are and what we do. French cinema, for me, is always alive!”
Sharing some of his top picks and speaking to his emotional connection to French cinema, Brahimi added:
“This year’s festival line-up is sure to delight foodies and cinephiles alike. I’m looking forward to Sugar and Stars, a true story about a young man from a difficult upbringing and his journey to become a famed pastry chef, along with Umami, starring Gérard Depardieu on a quest to Japan for exceptional noodles.”
“When I first arrived in Australia 30 years ago and couldn’t speak English, days were quite lonely, so I used to watch on repeat Cyrano de Bergerac with Gérard Depardieu to make me smile… this is the escapism and magic that cinema offers.”
ALLIANCE FRANÇAISE FRENCH FILM FESTIVAL 2023 DATES & VENUES
Sydney, NSW: 7th March to 5th April – Palace Central, Palace Verona, Palace Norton St, Chauvel Cinema, Hayden Orpheum Cremorne
Melbourne, VIC: 8th March to 5th April – Palace Cinema Como, Palace Balwyn, Palace Brighton Bay, Palace Westgarth, The Astor Theatre, The Kino, Pentridge Cinema
Perth, WA: 8th March to 5th April – Luna Leederville, Luna on SX, Windsor Cinema, Palace Raine Square, Camelot Outdoor Cinema
Canberra, ACT: 9th March to 5th April – Palace Electric Cinema
Hobart, TAS: 9th to 19th March – State Cinema
Brisbane, QLD: 15th March to 12th April – Palace James Street, Palace Barracks
Byron Bay, NSW: 16th March to 5th April – Palace Byron Bay
Adelaide, SA: 23rd March to 19th April – Palace Nova Eastend Cinemas, Palace Nova Prospect Cinemas
Port Pirie, Renmark, Whyalla, Mount Gambier: 24th March to 26th March – Northern Festival, Chaffey Theatre, Middleback Arts Centre, Sir Robert Helpmann Theatre
Gold Coast, QLD: 29th March to 16th April – Dendy Southport
Parramatta, NSW: 29th March to 2nd April – Riverside Theatre Parramatta
Victor Harbour, SA: 3rd and 10th April – Victa Cinema
Bendigo, VIC: 21st to 23rd April – Star Cinema
KEY PROGRAMME THEMES & HIGHLIGHTS
From this year’s biggest French box office successes to infectious tales of hope and resilience, must-see highlights from the 2023 festival include:
Masquerade (Mascarade) – Australian premiere (Opening Night)
Watch trailer here
Just how far will you go to get what you want? Glamour, sex, money and manipulation all combine in a deadly vortex on the unassuming shores of the dreamy Côte d’Azur, as trouble begins to brew beneath the surface of the water.
An official selection of Cannes Film Festival 2022, Masquerade follows Adrien (Pierre Niney) an aspiring dancer whose dreams are suddenly dashed when he is hit with an injury. Succumbing to laziness, he relies on his beauty to seduce older, wealthy women who happily support his lavish lifestyle. Our protagonist is content living with doting Martha (Isabelle Adjani) that is until he meets captivating Margot (Marine Vacth).
Two Tickets to Greece (Les Cyclades) – Australian premiere
Watch trailer here
Three fabulous femmes – Laure Calamy (Call My Agent!), Olivia Côte and Kristin Scott Thomas – star in the wildly entertaining new comedy from writer/director Marc Fitoussi (Call My Agent!) about estranged childhood friends who tentatively reunite for a trip to the Greek Islands.
The Colours of Fire (Couleurs de l’Incendie) – Australian premiere
February 1927, following the death of her father, Madeleine Péricourt (Léa Drucker), must suddenly take on his vast financial empire – but as deception begins to brew on the horizon, it’s unclear how long her reign will last…
Directed by Clovis Cornillac, this masterfully told historical drama, touches on a broad dissection of challenging, all too human themes – from debilitating grief to love and loss.
Maria Into Life (Maria Rêve) – Australian premiere
Watch trailer here
The always-sensational Karin Viard and Grégory Gadebois star in award-winning short filmmakers Lauriane Escaffre and Yvonnick Muller’s debut feature, an enchanting and beautifully-crafted romantic comedy about a shy, unappreciated woman who finally allows herself to open up to life and love.
Sugar and Stars (À La Belle Étoile) – Australian premiere
Watch trailer here
Based on champion pastry chef Yazid Ichemrahem’s own autobiography and starring influencer Riadh Belaïche, comes a story of struggle and triumph above all else.
All Yazid has ever wanted is to cook delicious desserts and provide for his foster family. At night he gazes longingly at the pictures of his favourite pastry chefs on the wall before he drifts off to sleep – propelled forward by his dream of becoming a great chef just like his heroes. Securing an apprenticeship at a prestigious Parisian restaurant, he must suddenly learn to navigate the elitist pastry world under the guidance of the chefs he so idolises.
November (Novembre) – Australian premiere
Watch trailer here
Cédric Jimenez’s status as one of France’s most successful contemporary directors has been cemented with his captivating new thriller, an edge-of-your seat deep-dive into one of the most incredible manhunts in European history. After premiering to acclaim at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival, November stormed the local box office to become one of the most successful French films of the year (achieving a spectacular 2.4 million admissions).
Led by an all-star cast of iconic talent, November powerfully explores the perspective of the lead investigators of the French anti-terrorism services, working against the clock in the aftermath of the 2015 attacks across Paris.
Tenor (Ténor) – Australian premiere
Watch trailer here
A film that will transport you from the gritty, high-rise “banlieues” of outer Paris to the gilded splendour of the Opéra Garnier – a dissection of genres in a world where opera meets rap in musical marvel. Antoine (Mohammed Belkhir, playing under his rap name MB14) is doing it tough, barely making a living working as a food delivery driver by day, trying to make his way to the big time as a rap artist by night.
While delivering food, Antoine stumbles into a rehearsal room at the Opéra Garnier and becomes instantly enchanted.
The Innocent (L’Innocent) – Australian premiere
Watch trailer here
Taking France by storm, The Innocent holds the highest number of nominations for a single film at the upcoming 2023 César awards.
Tensions, criminal hijinks and unexpected romance collide in the uproariously entertaining new comedy hit from the multi-talented Louis Garrel. When widowed marine biologist Abel (Louis Garrel) learns that his impulsive mother Sylvie (Anouk Grinberg) is once again re-marrying – this time to an inmate she met whilst teaching theatre in prison – he’s more than uncomfortable. Doubting that convicted burglar Michel (Roschdy Zem) is capable of staying out of trouble, Abel’s protective streak kicks in…
Country Cabaret (Les Folies Fermières) – Australian premiere
Watch trailer here
Based on an outrageous true story, Country Cabaret will throw you headfirst into the most uproarious, show-stopping circus performance you’ve ever seen, brought to life on the big screen…
A testament to the power of teamwork, determination and above all else, hope. Delight in the infectious chemistry as the cast hustle together to transform a tired barn house into a dazzling theatre.
Annie’s Fire (Annie Colère) – Australian premiere
Watch trailer here
Inspired by true events, Annie’s Fire is the warm, tender, and humane film from Blandine Lenoir, starring the unstoppable Laure Calamy as an ordinary woman who becomes emboldened by a cause far bigger than herself.
February 1974, regional France. When mild-mannered working-class mother of two Annie and her husband accidentally fall pregnant, they know they can’t afford to care for another child. Annie is introduced to a group of local women and doctors who offer both judgement-free support and family planning. Far from underground, the network defiantly refuses to hide from public view, even though their efforts are considered illegal across the nation.
Ride Above (Tempête) – Australian premiere (family audience)
Watch trailer here
A film that touches the heart and bewitches the senses, Ride Above transports audiences from their seats to the stables and glistening coastlines of Normandy, France. The story follows Zoé (Carmen Kassovitz), who dreams of becoming a great jockey just like her father Philippe (Pio Marmaï).
Festivalgoers are invited to experience l’amour in all its forms with:
- A career-best performance from Virginie Efira in award- winning writer/director Rebecca Zlotowski’s enchanting and profoundly moving new romantic drama, Other People’s Children.
- Oliver Peyon’s captivating adaptation of Philippe Besson’s critically acclaimed, autobiographical novel Lie with Me begs the question “do you ever really forget a first love?”
- Léa Seydoux stars as a single mother trying to balance the emotional needs of her parents, her child and herself in One Fine Morning, a sensitive and deeply personal new drama from acclaimed writer/director Mia Hansen-Løve.
- Squirm at the wickedly funny and all-too-relatable exploration of embarrassment and self-doubt in Everybody Loves Jeanne by director Céline Devaux.
UP FOR A LAUGH
There’s nothing quite like the sound of communal laughter, and the AF FFF23 offers many opportunities for comic relief:
- Éric Lavaine’s hilarious Happy 50 (Australian premiere) takes you on a dream holiday with an all-star cast that goes terribly wrong.
- The 2023 programme offers not one, but two outrageous features from absurdist director Quentin Dupieux, Smoking Causes Coughing (Australian premiere) and Incredible but True.
- Chaos ensues in A Good Doctor (Australian premiere), starring Michel Blanc as the only emergency doctor making home visits on a busy Christmas Eve in Paris.
- Indiana Jones meets Monty Python in the hilarious comedy adventure, Jack Mimoun and the Secrets of Val Verde (Australian premiere).
- A standout opening night hit at Cannes Festival 2022, Oscar award-winning director Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist) delivers show-stopping comedy yet again in Final Cutstarring Romain Duris. Be warned, this film isn’t for the squeamish or faint-hearted. Those who push past the first 20 minutes of chaos and gore will welcome an outrageous epiphany, brought about by one totally brilliant, cutting-edge twist!
- Academy Award®-winner Marion Cotillard and Melvil Poupaud star in Brother and Sister (Australian premiere), an intelligent and emotionally involving new drama from acclaimed writer/director Arnaud Desplechin.
EDGE OF YOUR SEAT DRAMA
- From director Sébastien Marnier comes The Origin of Evil. Indulge in a cinematic experience that offers wealth, opulence and danger – the story of a toxic, dysfunctional family told from behind the doors of a dazzling seaside villa.
- Academy Awards® winning director Jean-Jacques Annaud’s Notre-Dame on Fire (Australian premiere) offers a thrilling film retelling of the tragic blaze which destroyed much of the Notre-Dame cathedral in 2019.
- Saint Omer (Australian premiere), an extraordinary narrative debut feature by acclaimed documentarian Alice Diop depicts the gripping story of a young novelist who is forced to confront her own complex family history as she attends a notorious murder trial.
TASTE OF FRANCE
Culinary adventures await:
- A tribute to French and Japanese Gastronomy, Umami sees Gérard Depardieu head on a journey inspired by an exceptional bowl of noodles.
- In The Tasting, award-winning stage director Ivan Calbérac delivers a delightful and witty heartfelt romance best served with a glass of French wine.
WOMEN WITH A VOICE
- Set in the aftermath of the horrific November 2015 terrorist attacks, Virginie Efira delivers an incredibly moving and honest performance in Paris Memories (Australian premiere).
- Driving Madeleine (Australian premiere) starring Line Renaud invites us to rediscover the power of the kindness of strangers.
FINDING YOUR WAY
Explore the French free spirit:
- Embark on a bittersweet road trip with closing night film Freestyle (Australian premiere).
- Laura Wandel’s gripping Playground is arguably one of the most truthful, emotional, and memorable films made about childhood.
- Newcomer Paul Kircher shines alongside Juliette Binoche in Christophe Honoré’s most autobiographical and arguably best film to-date, Winter Boy (Australian premiere).
- Larger-than-life Gérard Depardieu brings generous helpings of his own personality to writer/director Constance Meyer’s deft, highly enjoyable new fable Robuste (Australian premiere) about an unlikely friendship.
ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE
Tales of limitless hope:
- Based on the real-life story of the Salt and Pepper band, Silver Rockers (Australian premiere) is a feel-good film, celebrating life at every age.
- A feel-good comedy with some of France’s brightest rising stars and established actors, The Nannies (Australian premiere) is a real crowd-pleaser.
- Based on Sylvain Tesson’s critically acclaimed novel, On the Wandering Paths (Australian premiere) is a beautiful and complex cinematic retelling of Tesson’s path to healing and the power that comes with surrendering to complete vulnerability.
- Immerse yourself in ’80s nostalgia and marvel at the coastline of the dazzling Greek islands with the beautifully-restored Luc Besson retro-cult-classic, The Big Blue.
Not just for adults, the festival boasts several wholesome tales to be enjoyed by all the family:
- Belle & Sebastian: Next Generation (Australian premiere) is a beloved classic, retold with a fresh modern twist – a story where one Parisian street-rat must take on the desolate mountains of the Pyrénées, forming an unbreakable bond with one particularly inquisitive dog…
- Venture into the past with acclaimed writer and artist Michel Ocelot in the spell-bounding animation, The Black Pharaoh, The Savage, and the Princess.
- The aforementioned Ride Above illustrates the beautiful connections between humans, animals and nature, with Mélanie Laurent and Pio Marmaï co-starring as parents.
For more information and to purchase tickets from 9th February, please visit affrenchfilmfestival.org
The full programme for AF FFF 2023 is available here.
About Alliance Française French Film Festival
Alliance Française, the French culture and language institution, launched its film festival in Australia way back in 1989. Since then, it has grown into the largest festival dedicated to contemporary French films outside of France and one of the largest public events in Australia with more than 153,000 attendees in 2022. This 34th edition of the AF FFF will screen across multiple locations in Australia from 7th March – 23rd April.