I am thrilled that the 32nd edition of the Alliance Française French Film Festival can take place this year. Having just taken on the ambassador role a few months ago, I am delighted to discover Australia’s tremendous enthusiasm for French cinema.
For over 32 years, the festival has brought us closer to the France we love, the France that captivates our imagination, but also the France that questions. Every year, the festival celebrates the growing friendship that unites our two countries, a window into France, the French-speaking world and beyond. The best screenwriters could not have imagined this coronavirus crisis, which has seen much of humanity confined over extended periods and whole industries put on-hold or shut-down. The audiovisual sector has been hard hit, and cinemas and theaters are still closed in most countries.
Fortunately, despite the restrictions, the film industry continued to produce films. Artists, actors, filmmakers and creatives from all over the world are essential to our societies. It is this creativity that gives us the strength to act, to go out and also to experiment.In this regard, I would like to salute the tremendous commitment of our teams, who have accomplished the impossible for the second year in a row. Faced with a pandemic that knows neither borders nor nationality, this edition will be our ticket to escape.
Last year, the pandemic interrupted the Festival in March and deprived the city of Melbourne of it in July. Despite these headwinds, more than 75,000 people came to the July 2020 edition, making the Festival the biggest cultural event of the year in Australia.
This year, thanks to the exceptional mobilisation of the Alliances Françaises, the services of our Embassy, our partner Palace and Australian distributors, this will be the Festival of the Renaissance. We have selected 37 extraordinary films from all horizons, to offer you a magnificent 2021 edition. It’s particularly satisfying to see a growing number of female Directors represented this year.
Cinema is in fact a permanent and universal travel ticket. Each one of you, each one of us, will undoubtedly remember the magical moments offered by the films in this edition. So, take a seat in this wonderful setting that is a movie theater and I wish you a good trip
H.E. Jean-Pierre Thebault is the Ambassador of France to Australie
I am delighted to present the 32nd edition of the Alliance Française French Film festival.
Like in previous years, our inspiring festival highlights the best of French cinema and provides us with something we all need right now – a moment to breathe and an escape from these challenging times. For this year’s edition, we have selected 37 films that will make you dream, laugh and cry, featuring a rich and colourful tapestry of characters with stories larger than life. We could not have hoped for a more inspiring opening night film than Eiffel, a thrilling tale about one of France’s most iconic structures, centred around the love story between Romain Duris and Emma MacKay.
Next, we make way for the women. In 2021, we have more female directors than ever before, and the female characters are talented (Aline), fierce (The Rose Maker), free-minded (The Godmother) elegant (Appearances), and as bubbly as champagne (Antoinette in the Cévennes).
We laugh with tender bemusement at the sheer folly of certain characters (Perfumes, #Iamhere), the absolutely bizarre (Mandibles), the magnificent losers (Delete History) and those who rebel against the world’s insanity (Bye Bye Morons).
Like all things French, love is a recurrent theme in this year’s festival. Its complexities are explored with sensitivity in Love Affair, humour and finesse in The Wedding Speech, fragility in Summer of 85 and through France’s Delicious love affair of food.
The festival also highlights diversity and includes the most intriguing tale about art and human rights (The Man Who Sold His Skin), the devastation of civil war (Small Country: an African Childhood and Skies of Lebanon), the migrant plight (Night Shift), an urban story which shoots our imagination to the stars (Gagarine), the fight for acceptance (Miss and Little Girl) and the inspirational true tale of a young refugee who conquered the world of chess (Fahim, the Little Chess Prince).
You won’t be able to resist any of these vibrant characters who live life on their own terms, just as Jean Seberg and Jean Paul Belmondo did 60 years ago in Jean-Luc Godard’s timeless film Breathless - our ‘classic’ French feature film for this year’s festival.
So in 2021, alongside the 32nd edition of the Alliance Française French Film Festival, let’s escape and breathe.
Karine Mauris is the Cultural Attaché of the French Embassy, and has been the Artistic Director of the Alliance Française French Film Festival since 2020.
You miss France and France misses you. The strong, solid and friendly ties that unite our two countries have not weakened in the face of a global pandemic. On the contrary, thanks to your enthusiastic support and sincere love, the Alliance Française French Film Festival 2020 was an outstanding success in a turbulent year, and one of the largest public events to take place in Australia last year.
We have to live up to your expectations and to this constantly renewed affection. So, we have prepared an extraordinary programme, rich and ambitious, which will transport you across the world despite the obstacles, laugh, fall in love, feel, and taste – like an ideal journey on the roads of France.
With the help of all our partners, the Alliances Françaises d'Australie are proud to promote all the facets and richness of French cinema through this 32nd edition of the world's largest French Film Festival. But, the Alliances Françaises are also, throughout the year, your French home where you can immerse yourself in French culture. Through our courses, both online and face-to-face, each of you will be able to discover or perfect your knowledge of the French language and culture. Learning with us is the best way to prepare for your next trip, which we hope with all our hearts will be possible soon.
Philippe Ostermann, National Coordination of the Festival.
I blame my parents for my love of French film. They both adored going every Friday night to see ‘the continental films’ shown at the Savoy Theatre in Sydney. That was their treat many moons ago and they passed their interest onto all four of their children.
I remember as a little girl, my whole family roaring with laughter to beloved films like Mon Oncle. Jacques Tati’s humour crossed all generations. Growing up I fell in love with, along with the rest of the world, Gerard Depardieu in Jean de Florette and Cyrano de Bergerac. Gosh I loved him and his big nose. My knees went weak over Jean Reno in Le Grand Bleu and our hearts were stretched by Manon des Sources (I still love to watch re-runs of these movies).
After signing up for Getaway 25 years ago, I’m now able to explore more of France each year, each time falling more in love with the country. Now I use French films as a tool...to learn the language. With total focus, I repeat words softly to the screen, practising my pronunciation, trying to expand my vocab. It’s nearly ruined my husband’s enjoyment of watching subtitled movies with me, but I’ll get him back with the Alliance Française French Film Festival. As a farmer in Victoria, he can’t wait to see Antoinette in the Cévennes. I'll win major points with that and I’ll try to be quiet.
I’m also planning to see a few movies with my classmates from the Alliance Francaise. We ALL talk back to the screen, sometimes even with GoogleTranslate on hand! The online classes have been my ‘Covid silver lining’, even though I’m sure I’m the worst in the class. It’s a total brain-strain, but it’s pure joy... just like the Alliance Française French Film Festival.
Catriona Rowntree is an Australian television presenter, known best for her work on Nine’s Getaway