In 2014 the Alliance Francaise French Film Festival turns 25, returning with an evocative program of over 40 keenly anticipated new features and documentaries set to screen at sixteen fabulous Palace Cinema locations.
Proudly presented by the Alliance Française in association with the Embassy of France in Australia and the gracious support of Gold Sponsor Citroën, who have been at the forefront of Europe’s automobile industry for nearly a century, the Alliance Française French Festival has become acknowledged as one of the pre-eminent multicultural film events on Australia’s arts calendar.
For its 2013 outing, the Festival incorporated over 1,400 sessions, which attracted in excess of 133,000 patrons, mostly beyond Australia’s French community. And for 2014 the event, which will run from 4 March until the end of April, Palace has expanded to incorporate Palace Byron Bay, taking the number of participating cities to seven and venues to seventeen.
During these two months, a dazzling cornucopia of drama, romance, action and comedy awaits audiences with a splendid example being the Festival’s opening night film, The Finishers, which will screen courtesy of Madman Entertainment. An emotionally charged drama with the characters inspired by a true story, this superbly crafted story, directed by Nils Tavernier and starring Jacques Gamblin and Alexandra Lamy, follows the incredible journey of an embittered, former Ironman champion, and his disabled son who join forces to compete in a triathlon. And for closing night, the Festival will honour one of France’s most beloved directors, the comic genius Jacques Tati, by inviting audiences to select the Festival’s final film from six of his celebrated classics, including Playtime, Mon Oncle and Mr. Hulot’s Holiday.
Other highlights include:
- Grand Central: Tells the story of Gary (Tahar Rahim, A Prophet), an aimless and unskilled worker who lands himself a job at a nuclear reactor. Almost immediately he finds himself ignoring the warning signs and venturing where he shouldn't: into the arms of a co-worker's fiance (Lea Seydoux, Blue is the Warmest Color).
- Just a Sigh: The always brilliant Emmanuelle Devos stars as Alix, a forty three year old actress en route to Paris for an audition. With a broken mobile phone and a maxed out credit card, Alix is momentarily loosed from the moorings that anchor her to modern life and to her boyfriend Antoine (Denis Menochet). A brief train conversation with an enigmatic stranger, Douglas (Gabriel Byrne), sets her on a path of spontaneous decisions with both the promise and the risk of new beginnings.
- Suzanne: Widely considered one of France's most exciting young directors, Katell Quillevere confirms the promise of her debut 'Love Like Poison' with Suzanne, a powerful and emotionally-charged drama that explores the impact of one woman's unquenchable thirst for life on those around her.
- Camille Claudel 1915: Troubled sculptress Claudel (Juliette Binoche) has been confined to an asylum for two years following the collapse of her affair with fellow artist, Auguste Rodin. Isolated from the outside world, she pleads the case for her sanity with doctors. A visit from her pious brother Paul (Jean-Luc Vincent) seems to hod the hope for her release, but first he must be persuaded that she isn't possessed by the devil.
- Michael Kohlhaas: Danish star and Cannes winner Mads Mikkelsen appears in the title role of this bloody epic set in feudal France. After repeatedly being cheated, horse trader Kohlhaas dares to confront local baron (Swann Arlaud) but is frustrated at every step by the equally corrupt courts. His campaign for his rights is met by escalating violence and cruelty, until a truly heinous crime sends Michael on a mission for vengeance.
- Belle and Sebastian: The 1960's TV series beloved around the world has been remade for a new generation as a heartwarming family film. Set high in the snowy Alps during the Second World War the resourceful Sebastian (Felix Bossuet) is a lonely boy who tames and befriends a giant, wild mountain dog, Belle - even though the villagers believe her to be 'the beast' that has been killing their sheep. Through danger and adventure Belle and Sebastian forge an indestructible friendship.
- Mobius: Monaco provides the glamorous setting for an undercover sting set up by Gregory Lioubov (Jean Dujardin) to entrap corrupt tycoon, Ivan Rostrovski (Tim Roth). Brilliant and beautiful financial trader Alice (Cecile De France) is enlisted to get close to Ivan, but first must get closer to Gregory. Their torrid affair soon becomes a threat to the smooth unfolding of the operation as secrets and suspicions accumulate and no one is exactly who they seem.
- Our Heroes Died Tonight: Set in the criminal milieu surrounding professional wrestling in the 1960's, the story follows Victor (Denis Menochet), a gentle giant who turns to wrestling as a career after returning from a stint with the Foreign Legion in Algeria. Victor's friend Simon (Jean-Pierre Martins), already established as "The Spectre" in the wrestling world, helps him to create an alter-ego, "The Butcher", and together they form a lucrative rivalry. A decision to switch masks, however, leads to dire consequences as the pair runs afoul of match riggers and hit men in a spiral of mortal danger.
- Quai D'Orsay: A new film by master director Bertrand Tavernier is always a major event, and this scorching political satire is no exception. This hilarious adaptation of Abel Lanzac's comic moves is a madcap take on the French political scene in the vein of Armando Iannucci's In the Loop.
- Attila Marcel: Until now, Paul's existence has been sheltered and strange. The thirty-something man has lived all his life in a drab Paris apartment with two aunts and a daily routine of constant piano practice. When Paul meets an eccentric neighbour and tries her herbal brew, he uncovers deeply buried childhood memories - and a key to unlocking the great mystery of his life. Attila Marcel is the first live action feature film by writer-director Sylvain Chomet, the celebrated creator of animated hits The Triplets of Belleville and The Illusionist.
National dates and venues are as follows:
SYDNEY: 4 – 23 March Palace at Norton Street, Palace Verona, Chauvel Cinema and Hayden Orpheum Picture Palace
MELBOURNE: 5 – 23 March at Palace Balwyn, Palace Brighton Bay, Palace Cinema Como, Palace Westgarth and Kino Cinemas
CANBERRA: 6 – 25 March at Palace Electric Cinema
BRISBANE: 6 – 25 March at Palace Barracks and Palace Centro
PERTH: 18 March - 6 April at Cinema Paradiso, Luna on SX and Windsor Cinema
ADELAIDE: 20 March - 8 April at Palace Nova Eastend
BYRON BAY: 24 – 28 April at Palace Byron Bay
For updates and the full film lineup, visit the Festival's official website at: http://www.affrenchfilmfestival.org/