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.
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:
- 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
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: