Sydney Times





Returning to Palace Cinemas for its fabulous 32 nd incarnation, the Alliance Française French Film Festival, will beguile and engage audiences nationally from March 2 until mid-April at 25 locations, all of which will be adhering to stringent Covid protocols to guarantee Festival patrons a safe cinema experience.

Awash with high-octane drama, seductive romance, nail-biting suspense, historical tales that will enthral and comedies guaranteed to elevate your spirits, the 2021 Alliance Française French Film Festival will showcase multiple Première screenings and special events to be revealed today when the Festival’s website goes live at:

Presented by the Alliance Française in association with the Embassy of France in Australia and the wonderful support of their Presenting Sponsor, Peugeot Australia, this year’s choice line-up of 37 features has something to delight the most discerning cinephile.

And we’re delighted to announce that the effervescent Catriona Rowntree, one of the country’s most popular television presenters, will be our 2021 Festival Patron.

Catriona, who is known to audiences throughout Australia as the host of Nine Network’s long-running travel show Getaway, has harboured a love for France and French cinema since childhood. Indeed, her passion for French culture has led to her to the Alliance Française, where she’s currently a French-language student!

Courtesy of StudioCanal Australia, the Festival will launch with the World Premiere of Eiffel, a sumptuous, romantic, costume drama which explores the passionate love affair between celebrated engineer Gustave Eiffel, whose company designed and built France’s iconic Eiffel Tower, and Adrienne, a mysterious woman from his past.

Portraying these ardent lovers will be French superstar Romain Duris, and the magnetic Emma Mackey.

And for Closing Night the Festival will screen #Iamhere (jesuislà) an endearing culture-clash comedy from director Éric Lartigau (The Bélier Family), starring Alain Chabat as an eminent French chef who travels to the other side of the world after he falls in love via Instagram.

What lies between is a myriad of delights, including a newly restored 4K edition of director Jean-Luc Godard’s masterpiece, Breathless (À bout de souffle) (1960), acknowledged as one of the earliest and most potent examples of French New Wave (nouvelle vague) cinema.

With a screenplay by Jean-Luc Godard and starring Jean-Paul Belmondo and Jean Seberg as a pair of narcissistic young lovers on the run from authorities following a violent and impulsive crime, no debut film since Citizen Kane

(1942) has had as great an influence on cinematic trends and styles.

Some of the manifold highlights of this year’s line-up include:


Directed by Valérie Lemercier Cast: Valérie Lemercier, Sylvain Marcel ,Martine Fontaine

Inspired by the extraordinary life of singing sensation Céline Dion, Aline is the story of a teenager from Quebec whose powerful voice propels her onto the world stage to become the darling of millions.

ANTOINETTE IN THE CÉVENNES (Antoinette dans les Cévennes)

Directed by Caroline Vignal Cast: Laure Calamy, Benjamin Lavernhe, &

Olivia Côte

School teacher Antoinette’s holiday plans are thwarted when her secret lover’s wife organises a surprise family trekking holiday in the Cévennes National Park, prompting Antoinette to follow their track, by herself, with Patrick, a protective donkey.

APPEARANCES (Les apparances)

Directed by Marc Fitoussi Cast: Benjamin Biolay, Karin Viard, Lucas Englander and Laetitia Dosch

The wickedly entertaining new film from writer/director Marc Fitoussi, Appearances is a sexy, Chabrol-esque marital thriller, set against a luxe Vienna backdrop.

ARAB BLUES (Un divan à Tunis)

Directed by Manele Labidi Cast: Golshifteh Farahani, Majd Mastoura, & Aïcha Ben Miled

When Parisian psychotherapist Selma returns to her hometown in Tunisia, she is met with an eclectic town of locals that are both bewildered by her practice, and in desperate need of her help.

BLACK BOX (Boîte noire)

Directed by Yann Gozlan Cast: Pierre Niney, Lou de Laâge &André Dussollier

Uncovering secrets carries a devastating toll in this thrilling story about one man’s determination to get to the bottom of what caused a horrifying plane crash.

THE BIG HIT (Une triomphe)

Directed by Emmanuel Courcol Cast: Kad Merad, Marina Hands and  David Nelo Ayala

Inspired by remarkable true events, multi-award-winning writer Emmanuel Courcol’s rousing, Cannes-selected directorial debut follows a dedicated out-of-work actor whose life takes an unexpected career turn.

BYE BYE MORONS (Adieu les cons)

Directed by Albert Dupontel Cast: Albert Dupontel, Virginie Efira & Nicolas


In this audacious dark comedy, a seriously ill woman tries to find her long-lost child with the help of a man in the middle of a bureaucratic burnout, and a blind archivist prone to over-enthusiasm.

CALAMITY, A CHILDHOOD OF MARTHA JANE CANNARY (Calamity, une enfance de Martha Jane


Directed by Rémi Chayét Voice Cast: Salomé Boulven, Alexandra Lamy, Alexis Tomassian

Before she was Calamity Jane, great American frontierswoman, she was a high-spirited 12-year-old girl named Martha, fiercely loyal to her family with a defiant streak. Stunningly animated, this film will delight children and their parents alike. Winner of the Cristal for a Feature Film at the 2020 Annecy International Animation Film Festival.


Directed by Gabriel Le Bomin Cast: Lambert Wilson, Isabelle Carré,Olivier Gourmet

Spectacularly mounted, this fine film stirringly depicts a crucial period in the life of one of the most famous figures of modern French history. Fans of biographical drama will not be disappointed.

DELETE HISTORY (Effacer historique)

Directed by Gustave Kervern Benoît Delépine

Cast: Blanche Gardin, Corinne Masiero, Denis Podalydès Vincent Lacoste & Benoît Poelvoorde

If the complexities of the online world leave you feeling lost, confused or furious, then this laugh-out-loud film is for you. Directed by renegade duo Gustave Kervern and Benoît Delépine, Delete History won the 70th Silver Bear

Berlinale prize at Berlin International Film Festival.

DELICIOUS (Délicieux)

Directed by Eric Besnard Cast: Grégory Gadebois, Isabelle Carré , Benjamin Lavernhe

The mouth-watering new film from director extraordinaire Éric Besnard is sure to delight, as it depicts France’s enduring love affair with gastronomy. Premiering internationally, this splendid 18 th century comedy is a wildly enjoyable tale of reignited passion, mentorship and revenge.


Directed by Pierre-François Martin-Laval Cast: Ahmed Assad, Gérard Depardieu,Isabelle Nanty

Finished The Queen’s Gambit and looking to fill the chess-sized hole in your life? Try this inspirational underdog story about a Bangladeshi refugee boy who takes on the world of chess (with a charmingly gruff Gerard Depardieu by his side).

FINAL SET (5ème set)

Directed by Quentin Reynaud Cast: Alex Lutz, Ana Girardo Kristin Scott Thomas

A tense and nail-biting drama about the high-pressure world of professional tennis playing, which follows a once promising tennis player’s last shot at winning the French Open.


Directed by Fanny Liatard & Jérémy Trouilh Cast: Lyna Khoudri, Alséni Bathily Finnegan Oldfield

When the housing project that he calls home is condemned for demolition, 16-year-old aspiring astronaut Youri knows there is no way it can go down without a fight. Premiering at Cannes in 2020, Gagarine is a powerful story of class, race, imagination and wonder.

THE GODMOTHER (La daronne)

Directed by Jean-Paul Salomé Cast: Isabelle Huppert, Hippolyte Girardot Farida Ouchani

The magnificent Isabelle Huppert returns to the Festival with a triumphant performance in this laugh-out-loud, French noir comedy, where the gritty realism of Breaking Bad meets the stoner comedy of a Seth Rogen movie.


Directed by Samir Guesmi Cast: Samir Guesmi, Abdel Bendaher,Luàna Bajrami

Selected for Cannes Film Festival, prolific French actor, Samir Guesmi, makes his directorial debut with this emotionally rewarding, coming-of-age story that explores the complex and intimate relationship between a young man and his father.

LOVE AFFAIR(S) (Les choses q’on dit, les choses qu’on fait)

Directed by Emmanuel Mouret Cast: Camélia Jordana, Niels Schneider, Emilie Dequenne

When two strangers are left alone in the French countryside, they fill their time by regaling each other with stories of love gained and lost. Referred to as a “more serious Love Actually”, Love Affair(s) is an entertaining and surprising exploration of the complexities of modern love.

THE MAN WHO SOLD HIS SKIN (L’homme qui a vendu sa peau)

Directed by Kaouther Ben Hania Cast: Yahya Mahayni, Monica Bellucci , Dea Liane

What would it take to convince somebody to become a living canvas? For Syrian refugee Sam Ali, it is the promise of being reunited with the woman he loves. Provocative and powerful, this modern Faustian tale is the most biting art-world satire seen since The Square.


Directed by Quentin Dupieux Cast: Grégoire Ludig, Adèle Exarchopoulos, India Hair

Cult comedy maestro, Quentin Dupieux, is back with another absurdist film about two lovable losers and a giant fly in this totally bewildering, yet sweet and sincere story that is sure to tickle the funny bones of Festival audiences.


Directed by Ruben Alves Cast: Alexandre Wetter, Pascale Arbillot , Thibault de Montalembert

Starring androgynous model Alexandre Wetter as a young boy who dreams of conquering the Miss France pageant, Miss is an inspiring, though-provoking film that tears apart our preconceptions of gender and challenges us to rethink the status quo.


Directed by Anne Fontaine Cast: Virginie Efira, Omar Sy, Grégory Gadebois

Set over 24-hours, three world-weary cops start to question the moral complexities of their jobs when ordered to escort a man to a plane for deportation to a country that will kill him.

PERFUMES (les parfums)

Directed by Grégory Magne Cast: Emanuelle Devos, Grégory Montel Sergi López

This quintessentially French comedy pairs sad-sack divorced dad Guillaume (Call My Agent!’s charming Grégory Montel) with the egotistical, but highly talented perfumer Anne Walberg (Emmanuelle Devos) in a classic odd- couple story.


Directed by Nicolas Vanier Cast: François Cluzet, Julie Gayet, Patrick Timsit

Travel back to the 1960s to meet Poly, the Shetland pony, who has inspired children ever since she jumped from the pages of Cécile Aubry’s much-loved novel. This visually splendid new feature film – set in the breath-taking Cévennes region – will delight and inspire a whole new generation.

THE ROSE MAKER (La fine fleur)

Directed by Pierre Pinaud Cast: Catherine Frot, Melan Omerta, Fatsah Bouyamed

The brilliant Catherine Frot takes centre stage as Eve, a world-renowned rose farmer on the verge of bankruptcy, who hires three workers with no horticultural skills and must train them to help save her business.

SKIES OF LEBANON (Sous le ciel Alice)

Directed by Chloé Mazlo Cast: Alba Rohrwacher, Wajdi Mouawad,Isabelle Zighondi

A poetic blending of the personal and political, this Cannes selected film combines live action with animation to create a vivid picture of Lebanon and a heart-breaking story of love during wartime, inspired by the family history of filmmaker Chloé Mazlo.


Directed by Éric Barbier Cast: Jean-Paul Rouve, Isabelle Kabano , Djibril Vancoppenolle

Inspired by an incredible true story, this is the powerful story of a young boy growing up in Burundi during the 1990s, whose world was turned upside down by the tidal wave of violence and unrest from neighbouring Rwanda.

SUMMER OF 85 (Été 85)

Directed by François Ozon Cast: Félix Lefebvre, Benjamin Voisin, Valeria Bruni Tedeschi

Told in flashback and reminiscent of a retro 80s teen movie, François Ozon’s latest film is a thrilling and hot- blooded tale of love and obsession. Blending sensuality with mystery, Summer of 85 is France’s edgier answer to Call Me By Your Name.


Directed by Laurent Tirard Cast: Benjamin Lavernhe, Sara Giraudeau, Kyan Khojandi

35 year-old Adrian is stuck in a mid-life crisis. In addition to being a neurotic hypochondriac, tonight he’s trapped in an endless family dinner, his girlfriend is not answering his texts and his future brother-in-law asks him to prepare a speech for his wedding, even though he abhors public speaking. Could it get any worse?


National dates and venues for the 2021 Alliance Française French Film Festival are:

SYDNEY: 2 – 31 March Palace Central, Palace Verona, Palace Norton Street,

Chauvel Cinema & Hayden Orpheum Cremorne

MELBOURNE: 3 – 31 March Palace Cinema Como, Palace Balwyn, Palace

Brighton Bay, Palace Westgarth, Astor Theatre, The Kino

Pentridge Cinema

CANBERRA: 4 – 31 March Palace Electric Cinema

PERTH: 10 March – 7 April Palace Raine Square, Luna Leederville, Windsor Cinema, Luna on SX and Camelot Outdoor Cinema

HOBART: 11 – 20 March State Cinema Hobart

BRISBANE: 17 March – 13 April Palace Barracks & Palace James Street

ADELAIDE: 23 March – 20 April Palace Nova Eastend Cinemas Palace Nova ProspectCinemas

BYRON BAY: 24 March – 14 April Palace Byron Bay

PARRAMATTA: 8 – 11 April Riverside Theatres Parramatta

Follow the Festival on social media to keep up-to-date with the latest news and events:

Official website:



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