This year’s Alliance Francaise French Film Festival promises a taste of France – in more ways than one.
Expanding on an epicurean theme running through many of the titles, new festival director Philippe Platel has lined up special events pairing the best in French cinema with choice Gallic cuisine.
“It is a recurring theme in French movies, which I hadn’t ever noticed when I was in France,” Philippe says. “It’s something we share with Australia; you like to eat and drink as well. There are so many movies in the program where drinking wine and having good food is important.”
Opening night film The Odyssey, a biopic of legendary diver Jacques Cousteau, will be accompanied by French sparkling and a selection of chocolates; edgy comedy In Bed with Victoria will be preceded by wine and cheese; and crudites will be served before a special screening of environmental doco Tomorrow.
For his first year in the role, Philippe has shifted the focus towards new feature films. There are only two documentaries on the program, no TV series and classic French titles have been farmed off to a separate festival to run later in the year.
“There have been so many good films in the past year that it’s already too difficult to make a selection. If I had to insert classic films it would be too complicated. I wanted a very diverse line-up open to young talent, to first films and especially to female filmmakers.”
A new program stream called Girl Power reflects this push to be more inclusive.
Philippe, who is also cultural attache to the French Embassy in Sydney, says the diversity of titles on show reflects a national film industry in rude health.
He has spent six months watching the year’s crop at a breakneck pace of two movies a day – one before and one after work.
“The French cinema industry has been very busy,” he says. “It was easy for me to make the selection because all the movies I watched were good.”
Less easy is picking two or three films to recommend. “That’s a horrible question. It’s impossible to just choose. I would say go and see all 45.”
BOOK A TICKET
- Alliance Francaise French Film Festival
- Sydney 07.03-30.03
- Melbourne 08.03-30.03
- Canberra 09.03-04.04
- Perth 15.03-05.04
- Brisbane 16.03-09.04
- Adelaide 30.03-23.04
- Hobart 30.03-08.04
- Parramatta 06.04-09.04
- Casula 08.04-09.04