Our picks from the Alliance Française French Film Festival 2023 program

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The Alliance Française French Film Festival 2023 program has been released and we’ve selected 15 films that we’re most keen to see this year. Discover them below.

Alliance Française French Film Festival 2023

As always, the Alliance Française French Film Festival 2023 program is divided into categories. In addition to the opening night and closing night films, this year there are 11 categories, namely:

  • Highlights
  • L’Amour’s promises
  • Up for a laugh
  • Cannes highlights
  • On the edge of your seat
  • Taste of France
  • Women with a voice
  • Finding your way
  • Anything is possible
  • Iconic 80s
  • Family

 

Opening night film Masquerade follows Adrien (Pierre Niney, Black Box, AFFFF 2021) an aspiring dancer who succumbs to laziness after a devastating injury dashes his dancing career hopes. He relies on his beauty to seduce older, wealthy women who happily support his lavish lifestyle. Content living with doting Martha (Isabelle Adjani, The World Is Yours, AFFFF 2019) until he meets captivating Margot (Marine Vacth, If You Saw His Heart, AFFFF 2018), whose raw beauty and stealthy approach to scheming intoxicate him. The two join in on her latest conspiracy, targeting Simon (François Cluzet, The Kitchen Brigade, AFFFF 2022), a high-end real estate agent who quickly falls for her charms. The storyline makes us think a little of Priceless (Hors du Prix) starring Audrey Tautou as the fortune hunter and Gad Elmaleh as the man she trains in her trade.

 

The Closing night film Freestyle is about a chaotic road trip between two strangers, Louise (Marina Foïs, Savages, AFFFF 2020) who is unable to get out of her car due to her own crippling anxiety and Paul, (Benjamin Voisin, Man Up, AFFFF 2021) who breaks into her car desperate to get to the South West coast. The unlikely friendship blooms into something touching and heartwarming, as they learn to overcome their anxieties and trust in the power of love and friendship. A high note to close the festival on for 2023.

 

The Highlights category is larger than the others so we’ve chosen two, quite different films. One is a comedy, Two Tickets to Greece (Les Cyclades) from writer/ director Marc Fitoussi (Call My Agent!), in which 3 fabulous femmes – Laure Calamy (Call My Agent!, Antoinette in the Cevennes AFFFF 2021, Full Time, AFFFF 2022 and also starring in The Origins of Evil at this year’s festival), Olivia Côte and Kristin Scott Thomas – star as estranged childhood friends who tentatively reunite for a trip to the Greek Islands. We’re keen to see if for the great cast, a fun story, and the backdrop of the Greek Islands.

 

The other film is November, a powerful retelling of the events of the November 2015 Paris attacks from the perspective of the lead investigators of the French anti-terrorism services, working against the clock to catch the culprits before they can strike again. It focuses on the highly-charged pursuit and the moral and ethical boundaries it pushes rather than the crimes itself. That team is led by Héloise (Sandrine Kiberlain, Another World AF FFF22) and her closest associates, Fred (Jean Dujardin, The Artist) and Inès (Anaïs Demoustier, Anaïs in Love, AF FFF22),

 

Under the category L’Amour’s promises, in Other People’s Children, Virginie Efira plays a woman who realises she may be more attached and invested in the child of the man she is dating than the man himself amid the heart-breaking realisation that she will never be that child’s Mum. Virginie Efira always delivers outstanding performances and her roles in Madeleine Collins and Waiting for Bojangles at last year’s AFFFF were no exception. She also stars in Paris Memories at this year’s festival.

 

In the Up for a laugh category, A Good Doctor has Michel Blanc as the disgruntled, only emergency doctor making visits on a busy Christmas Eve in Paris. Chaos ensues when delivery driver Malek (Hakim Jemili) quite literally collides into his path. The French do wonderful comedies as well as films about unlikely friendships and this seems to tick both of those boxes.

 

This being a larger category, we have also picked The Innocent, the new comedy hit from Louis Garrel. When Abel, a widowed marine biologist learns his mother, Sylvie (Anouk Grinberg, 17 Files, AFFFF 2012), is re-marrying again, this time a convicted burglar, Michel (Roschdy Zem, Oh Mercy! AFFFF 2020), he begins tailing the new stepfather’s movements with the help of his best friend, Clémence (Noémie Merlant, Paris, 13th District, AF FFF22). Their amateur sleuthing is uncovered but triggers an unlikely business proposition for the pair. It looks to be a mix of comedy, romance, suspense, and action with several twists.

 

We’re pushing ourselves out of our comfort zone (no horror, violence or gore for us normally here) for the Cannes Highlights category and are intrigued by Final Cut (Coupez!), the classically French reimagining of Japanese, zombie cult-classic One Cut of the Dead. This film starring Romain Duris has been nominated for the César for best adaptation, and for best original music.

 

In the Edge of your seat drama category of the Alliance Française French Film Festival 2023 program, Saint Omer, the debut feature film from documentarian Alice Diop. It tells the gripping story of a young novelist forced to confront her own complex family history when she attends a notorious murder trial. We enjoy a thriller and films addressing family complexities.

 

 

In a fusion of French and Japanese gastronomy, Gérard Depardieu stars in Umami, within the Taste of France category, where the answer for life’s happiness might just be an extraordinary bowl of noodles. Gérard Depardieu continues to give great performances in his films (you can also see him in Robuste at this year’s festival), and we like the opportunity to travel through France and Japan without even getting on a plane.

 

In the Women with a voice category, Driving Madeleine sees Line Renaud and Danny Boon reunite on screen in (they starred together in Welcome to the Sticks and its follow-up Family is Family. Line Renaud plays Madeleine, a 92 year old trying to make the most of her last day of freedom and the Danny Boon is Charles, the taxi driver who reluctantly takes the early morning fare. Described by Renaud as “the most beautiful film of my life”, we think that alone makes it worthy of watching considering the lengthy career she has enjoyed. Plus, Danny Boon always delivers a goofiness, which appeals.

 

Within Finding Your Way, it’s Laura Wandel’s gripping Playground, which is arguably one of the most truthful, emotional, and memorable films made about childhood. It tells the story from the view of seven year old Nora, who upon starting at the same school as her 10 year old brother discovers he is being bullied but he swears her to silence. The film depicts her observations of the playground, as well as the choices with which she grapples – to keep silent, to tell her parents, or to take action herself.

 

Tales of limitless hope are always uplifting and inspiring and the Anything is possible category delivers just that. On the Wandering Path is based on Sylvain Tesson’s critically acclaimed autobiographical novel. It is a retelling of Tesson’s own journey to healing through a solo trek through France, which Sylvain (played by Jean Dujardin, OSS 117 AFFFF 22) takes against the advice of doctors, loved ones and even his own better judgement following a debilitating injury. A film which promises to inspire you to take the path less followed.

(Sorry we we’re able to find an English subtitled version.)

 

Luc Besson’s remastered cult 80s film The Big Blue returns to the big screen for one night only. It’s perfect timing with this year’s film Two tickets to Greece also being set there

 

Within the Family category, we are intrigued by animation feature The Black Pharaoh, The Savage, and the Princess from acclaimed writer and artist Michel Ocelot. It lets us venture into the three fantastical worlds from the past from the sandy plains and monstrous pyramids of Egypt to the grand castles and kingdoms of the Middle Ages with a powerful message that love heals all.

KEY INFO FOR THE ALLIANCE FRANÇAISE FRENCH FILM FESTIVAL 2023

WHAT: Alliance Française French Film Festival 2023 – the 34th edition of the largest celebration of French film outside of France!

WHERE & WHEN:

Sydney, NSW: 7th March to 5th April – Palace Central, Palace Verona, Palace Norton St, Chauvel Cinema, Hayden Orpheum Cremorne

Melbourne, VIC: 8th March to 5th April – Palace Cinema Como, Palace Balwyn, Palace Brighton Bay, Palace Westgarth, The Astor Theatre, The Kino, Pentridge Cinema

Perth, WA: 8th March to 5th April – Luna Leederville, Luna on SX, Windsor Cinema, Palace Raine Square, Camelot Outdoor Cinema

Canberra, ACT: 9th March to 5th April – Palace Electric Cinema

Hobart, TAS: 9th to 19th March – State Cinema

Brisbane, QLD: 15th March to 12th April – Palace James Street, Palace Barracks

Byron Bay, NSW: 16th March to 5th April – Palace Byron Bay

Adelaide, SA: 23rd March to 19th April – Palace Nova Eastend Cinemas, Palace Nova Prospect Cinemas

Port Pirie, Renmark, Whyalla, Mount Gambier: 24th March to 26th March – Northern Festival, Chaffey Theatre, Middleback Arts Centre, Sir Robert Helpmann Theatre

Gold Coast, QLD: 29th March to 16th April – Dendy Southport

Parramatta, NSW: 29th March to 2nd April – Riverside Theatre Parramatta

Victor Harbour, SA: 3rd and 10th April – Victa Cinema

Bendigo, VIC: 21st to 23rd April – Star Cinema

HOW: The full program of 41 films can be viewed at the official Alliance Française French Film Festival 2023 website via this link:  https://www.affrenchfilmfestival.org/

HOW MUCH: Ticket prices vary between cities and there are also discounted festival passes available if you want to see several films. (NB You will need to pick the films and sessions when purchasing the pass)

 

So, now you’ve read our picks. What are yours for the Alliance Française French Film Festival 2023?

 

If you’re keen to watch past festival films before this year’s festival starts, read the following articles to find out which ones and how:

Where you can stream AFFFF 2022 films (or buy them on DVD)

7 French films from the AFFFF 2019 to watch for free at home

13 films from the Alliance Française French Film Festival 2021 to stream

 

Cédric Tiberghien is coming to Australia for recitals and the world premiere of The Cage Project

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Pianist, Cédric Tiberghien, is coming to Australia for a few concerts including 2 recitals and the debut performances of The Cage Project, which will make its worldwide debut in Australia. We chatted to Cédric Tiberghien. Read our interview with him below.

Cédric Tiberghien

HIS SOLO CONCERT

Cédric Tiberghien, you’re coming to Adelaide Festival where you will present two shows: a recital and another project named The Cage Project. In your solo performance, you will play Brahms, Mozart and Beethoven, as well as something more modern 4’33” by John Cage. How and why did you choose the compositions that make up this recital?

I am currently at the heart of an important discographical project, Variations[s], which proposes an exploration of the variation form through the complete Variations of Beethoven but also of composers as varied as Sweelinck, Schumann, Cage, Ligeti, Bach or Kurtag. The works in my recital thus show how composers work with musical material, how this work allows them to develop a discourse.

 

The composer’s work on the most elementary material has always fascinated me. It’s a bit like entering the intimate laboratory, witnessing the craft. It’s like entering the backstage of the creations, as in the kitchens of a great restaurant!

 

The Bach/Brahms Chaconne is played with the left hand alone, trying to reproduce the technical challenge imposed on the violinist. Mozart’s sonata, beyond its famous finale the Turkish march) opens with a wonderful series of variations, and Beethoven’s variations are a masterful demonstration of the art of variation, Beethoven transforming the piano into a veritable orchestra!

 

The Cage piece, 4’33”, is connected to the rest of my tour of Australia, which was devoted to the music of John Cage, among others. This very modern and daring piece is still relevant today and offers a kind of variation on silence that fits perfectly into the programme.

 

THE CAGE PROJECT

What is the significance of John Cage’s Sonatas and Interludes?

I am madly in love with John Cage’s Sonatas and Interludes for prepared piano (1948). A major work of the 20th century, overwhelming, powerful, moving and just extraordinarily beautiful. My master at the Paris Conservatoire, Gérard Frémy, was a fervent supporter of this work, and close to John Cage. He recorded the work, as advised by Cage himself. I grew up with this recording, and when I had the opportunity a few years ago to finally play this cycle, it was a revelation.

 

This work is an exploration of different human emotions, based on Indian philosophy. Through these sixteen sonatas and four interludes, the composer is in search of a higher state, tranquillity. This initiatory journey is a kind of long meditation where the sense of time and space eventually merge and even disappear. All this is achieved through the use of this modified instrument with its magical sounds. The addition of objects inside the piano makes another instrument. I always introduce the concert by saying: this is not a recital and this is not a piano…

 

The rich and inspiring collaboration with Matthias Schack-Arnott was initiated by my friend and director of Musica Viva, Paul Kildea. We have known each other for 20 years, and he felt that my passion for this work could be combined with Matthias’ extraordinary creativity. The final object, which I cannot reveal, will transport the listener (I had originally written “traveller”!!) into the heart of Cage’s sound world, offering a visual incursion into the heart of this meditation. This will reveal a new dimension to this music, and will truly be like a waking dream. This concert is for everyone, connoisseurs or not, it is a unique sensory experience that will undoubtedly be unforgettable! 

On a light grey backdrop, a piano is shown in an exploded view with sections shown separate from each other. The piano is pictured vertically, with the keys at the base of the image. Cedric Tiberghien
The Cage Project Image: supplied by Adelaide Festival

ABOUT CÉDRIC TIBERGHIEN

You’ve been playing the piano since you were five, I think? Why did you decide to learn to play the piano at that age?

I started when I was 5 years old, although I wish I had started earlier! The encounter with an instrument and its owner) is at the origin of all this. When I was still very young (2 years old), this lady, a piano teacher, showed me how the instrument worked, the mechanics, the strings, she played for me, and it was a huge shock. It was immediate, I wanted to play the piano. My parents were music lovers and my mother played the violin a little, so they were very open to music and supported me throughout my studies!

 

You credit your first piano teacher with the quality of curiosity that you feel is still important to you today. How did she instil curiosity in you and how do you maintain it?

Curiosity is the love of things you don’t know. My teacher introduced me to many things, from sports to fine arts, from music history to literature. I was always hungry to learn, hungry for new things, hungry for discovery. Today, I still seek that thrill when I hear a masterpiece for the first time. I think that from that point of view, I have really kept my childlike soul… curiosity makes me happy!

 

What do you like about the piano? Personally, I love it!

The piano is my confidant, it is the one who understands me, the one who allows me to express myself, the one with whom I am true. Music does not lie…. It has an exceptional richness, rhythmic, harmonic, and resonant; it is fascinating every day!

 

When and why did you decide to pursue the piano as a profession?

It was obvious. And many people surrounded me and encouraged me in this direction. It’s the pleasure of sharing the fascination of music with the public, of being a link between the composer, the work and the listener…. It’s a responsibility!

 

What is your favourite composition to play?

It’s impossible to give an answer. Every work I play becomes a part of me, and therefore becomes my favourite work!

 

And what is your favourite composition to listen to?

I don’t listen to much piano, I prefer the orchestra and the voice. The orchestra is the most beautiful instrument, it always overwhelms me.

 

Apart from classical music, what kind of music do you like to listen to or is classical music your whole life?

I listen to almost everything! I like to discover new things, I am very open-minded. I love jazz, but also bossa nova, fado, French songs from the 30s! Musicals, but also traditional music which touches me in a very direct way! My playlist is very varied!

 

Do you have a routine before the shows?

I like to work a lot on the day of the concert. It puts me in a particular state of confidence. I like to walk outside if possible, it clears my mind, and I meditate a bit just before I play. And just before I go on stage, I jump up and down!

 

Is there a dream venue you would like to play at?

There are mythical halls where I would like to play, the Teatro Colon in Bueno Aires, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam (normally [that will happen] in May 2025!!), but also to discover intimate places with a great intensity (churches or open air places in the middle of nature)

We thank Cédric Tiberghien for this interview. 

 

KEY INFO FOR CÉDRIC TIBERGHIEN’S AUSTRALIAN TOUR

 

SYDNEY

WHAT: Sydney Symphony – Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade

Simone Young conducts Scheherazade and Ravel’s Piano Concerto for the Left Hand with Cédric Tiberghien.

WHERE: Concert Hall, Sydney Opera House

WHEN:

  • 7pm Thursday 16 February
  • 11am Friday 17 February
  • 2pm Saturday 18 February

HOW: Buy tickets through this link: https://www.sydneysymphony.com/concerts/rimsky-korsakovs-scheherazade

HOW MUCH: Tickets (excluding booking fee) start at $42.

 

PERTH FESTIVAL

WHAT: The Cage Project (worldwide premiere)

WHERE: Perth Concert Hall

WHEN: 7pm March 3

HOW: Buy your tickets through this link: https://www.perthfestival.com.au/events/the-cage-project/

HOW MUCH: Tickets (excluding booking fees) range from $25 to $79.

 

ADELAIDE FESTIVAL

WHAT: Cédric Tiberghien in recital

WHERE: Adelaide Town Hall

WHEN: 7.30pm Monday 6 March

HOW: Buy tickets here: https://www.adelaidefestival.com.au/events/cedric-tiberghien/

HOW MUCH: Ticket prices (excluding booking fees) are as follows:

  • Adult: Premium $79, Reserve A $69, Reserve B $59
  • Festival Friends: Premium $67, Reserve A $59, Reserve B $50
  • Concession (Pensioner, Health Care Card holder, MEAA member): Reserve A $55, Reserve B $47
  • Under 30 (ID required) Reserve A $35, Reserve B $30
  • Full-time student (ID required): Reserve $ 30, Reserve B $ 25

 

WHAT: The Cage Project

WHERE: Grainger Studio, 91 Hindley Street ADELAIDE

WHEN: 9pm Tuesday March 7, 1pm and 7pm Wednesday March 8

HOW: Buy your tickets through this link: https://www.adelaidefestival.com.au/events/the-cage-project/

HOW MUCH: Ticket prices (excluding booking fees) are as follows:

  • Adult $69
  • Friends of the Festival $59
  • Concession (retired, health card holder, MEAA member) $55
  • Under 30 (ID required) $35
  • Full-time student (ID required) $30

If you are interested in classical music, you may also be interested in our interview with conductor Guillaume Tournaire

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