Alliance Francaise French Film Festival 2023

It seems like it was only yesterday we were saying “bonjour“ to the French film festival as it screened around the country. And no sooner is it upon us for an even bigger festival for 2023. This March 8 to April 5 you can immerse yourself in the world of French cinema. For French film lovers and expat’s finding Australia home this festival will tantalise your greatest cinematic desires. And for those of us who can’t speak French, fear not, as usual there are subtitles to follow along.

There are some 250 films produced in France alone every year and the Alliance Française French Film Festival showcases a handful of the greatest. For its 34th year, Artistic Director Karine Mauris has curated a festival with tales of “life, resilience and as always, hope,” she said.

The festival will have everything from “a meta-zombie comedy, suspenseful thrillers and historical dramas… to family-friendly flicks,” Mauris mentioned. The festival also includes the 2023 Academy Award contender for Best International Feature (France) Saint Omer, from Alice Diop featuring rising star Kayije Kagame.

French Ambassador to Australia Jean-Pierre Thébault said he is “grateful for the opportunity to share powerful stories expressed in the French language, and to immerse newcomers in our culture”.

Opening the festival is the Australian premiere of Masquerade. Glamour, sex, money and manipulation go hand in hand with this romantic drama set along the French Riviera. An aspiring dancer with a promising future ahead is hit with a debilitating injury. But in order to support his lifestyle he takes to seducing older wealthy women. But in a turn of events his new romantic interest finds him scheming a high-end real estate agent.

Closing the festival is another Australian Premiere, Freestyle. It’s the epic road trip no one would expect full of tears, laughs and ultimately joy. Louise is struck with an overpowering anxiety and unable to get out of her car. Confused, frightened and frustrated she doesn’t notice Paul who jumps in her car in order to steal it. The two find themselves on a road tip where Louise learns to overcome her anxiety and trust the power of love.

Here at Novastream we took the hard part out of deciding what to see this festival with our pick of three most different films. The Colours of Fire is our dramatic pick, Silver Rockers is our comedy choice and our Family selection is Belle & Sebastian: Next Generation.

The Colours of Fire is a historical drama set in 1927. The film starts with the death of Madeleine’s father resulting in her taking over her fathers empire. The responsibility doesn’t come without the challenges as the trusted men in her life decide to cash in on her vulnerability.

With one catastrophic investment Madeleine’s life comes crashing down which sparks a desire in her for revenge. Setting a series of plans in motion, Madeleine is able to use what little she has with her wit and cunning plan to bring these men who ruined her to justice.

The film is captivating with a number of intriguing storylines all running at once. There isn’t a moment spare as you follow the journey from riches to ruin and back again. The period piece is beautifully executed with the extravagant mansions and parisian homes of the 20s brought to life by some amazing costumes.

Silver Rockers is the heartwarming comedy you didn’t know you needed. When down and out Alex is struggling to make a professional career as a singer not to mention her spiralling debt meaning she isn’t able to provide for her children; she takes a job. Not just any job, teaching senior citizens to sing in a choir.

With a short amount of time until the choir’s big debut, Alex has her job cut out for her when the choir aren’t interested in singing “nursery rhymes”. But when Alex is convinced to let them sing rock songs all of a sudden the choir find a new lease in life.

The movie skims over any emotional connection for the audience to find in the characters. It tends to find more screen time singing English rock songs than delving into the real reason they’re all there. For those that we do get to know outside the choir, it’s light and doesn’t have a strong sense of belonging in the film.

In the end it’s a heartwarming film about senior citizens finding a purpose and for a lot of them who don’t have big families around them anymore, the choir fills that void.

Belle & Sebastian: Next Generation is the family film you didn’t know you needed to see and not just because of the cute dog. Seb is a city kid to a T, but he’s also getting into way too much trouble for his mother to handle. So off to the farm he goes to spend the summer with his Grandmother, who isn’t overly excited by the idea.

Unable to make friends and finding himself in a spot of trouble again, his Grandmother puts him to work to help herd the sheep up the mountain for the warmer weeks. Here he builds a fond friendship with a Pyrenean Mountain Dog, Belle. Together the two go on all sorts of adventures which happen to lead to not only finding an underground lake, but saving his family who had long fallen apart.

While these are our picks here at Novastream, there are some 39 films to choose from. Head to affrenchfilmfestival.org to search the program and book tickets. Screening across Australia over the month there’s a film for everyone. Au revoir and happy festival.

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