11 French movies from the 2019 Alliance Française French Film Festival to watch on SBS on Demand

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SBS on Demand has 11 movies from 2019 Alliance Française French Film Festival available for you to stream at home for free. After all, while stuck at home is the perfect time to watch some French movies! Find out about them below.

Sink or Swim / Le Grand Bain


One of the great hits from the 2019 Alliance Française French Film Festival was this film which also achieved greatness in France – 4 million tickets sold and a standing ovation when it premiered at Cannes.

This film from actor Gilles Lellouche in his first directorial role has a fantastic cast of French stars: Mathieu Amalric, Jean Hugues Anglade, Guillaume Canet and Benoît Poelvoorde, and the list goes on!

The film tells the story of a group of men in their 40s all of whom are in the midst of mid-life crises who are brought together in a male-only synchronised swimming team. Coached by fallen champion Delphine (Virginie Efira) with the support of her former swim partner Amanda (Leïla Bekhti), the team set out on a quest to compete in the competition in Sweden, all the while redeeming some of their self-worth.




This film is a family drama told via David (Vincent Lacoste), who lives a life without worries with his romantic partner Lena (Stacy Martin). That is until he is forced to assume guardianship of his niece, Amanda (Isaura Multrier), just 7 years old, after a violent incident.

While the subject matter may be one of mourning and the road to recovery, the film is also a delight for francophiles with it also being an ode to the beauty of Paris.




Girl marks the debut feature film for Flemish filmmaker Lukas Dhont but also for the 15 year old, Victor Polster, who portrays the protagonist, Lara, a teenage transgender girl from Belgium who struggles not with her gender identity but her desire to become a professional ballerina.


With the support of her father father (Arieh Worthalter) and younger brother (Oliver Bodart), Lara starts the process of gender reassignment but teenage impatience and pressures of the world of ballet push her to the edge.


Rolling to you/Tout le monde debut


Rolling to you is the directorial debut for Franck Dubosc, who we are more accustomed to seeing on screen than behind the scenes (but don’t worry in this film he does both).  He plays Jocelyn, a serial liar and womaniser. Caught sitting in a wheelchair at his relative’s house, a carer mistakes him for a paraplegic. Does he explain himself? No, of course not! He goes along with it, even after falling in love with the carer’s sister Florence (Alexandra Lamy).

A romantic comedy with a difference!


Memoir of War/La Douleur


La Douleur by Marguerite Duras was published in 1985 and has since been translated into 15 languages. It is viewed as one of the greatest literary works of the 20th century. It tells of her experiences during World War II in Paris.

This however is its first screen adaptation and one which has seen a lot of controversy for director Emmanuel Finkiel. Set in 1944, Marguerite Duras (Mélanie Thierry) reflects of her memories of being a Resistance member in Nazi-occupied France with her husband, Robert Antelme, and the heart-wrenching pain of waiting after his deportation by the Gestapo. Marguerite will do anything to get him back to Paris including a relationship with Rabier (Benoît Magimel), a suspicious local Vichy collaborator.

Memoir of War is about the lengths to which we will go for love.


Through the fire/Sauver ou Perir


Frédéric Tellier’s film tells the story of Franck (Pierre Niney)’s long journey back to health after being badly burned fighting a fire. Franck lived (and could have died) by the motto “to save or perish” both in his job but also in his family life with Cécile (Anaïs Demoustier) and their children.

Tellier shows the physical and psychological toll Franck faces to rebuild himself, all the while exploring existential questions about the meaning of humanity.


The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir/L’extraordinaire voyage du Fakir


Aja (Bollywood actor Dhanush)’s world exists solely in Mumbai and his life performing stunts on the streets under the guise of a fakir. That is until he goes to France after the death of his mother. There he meets Marie (Erin Moriarty), a Franco-American stranger outside of an Ikea store, shortly before he is unwittingly shipped across Europe together with some Ikea furniture. An animated map shows his route with a particular French focus from Paris to the Côte d’Azur.


This feel-good comedy is based on Romain Puertolas’ best-seller The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir Who Got Trapped in an Ikea Wardrobe and is suitable for the whole family.

NB: This 2019 Alliance Française French Film Festival film is in English.



Girls of the Sun/Les filles du soleil


Girls of the Sun shows combat from a solely female perspective. Based on the Yazidi women’s true life feats, it shows their kidnapping and trauma and their subsequent escape to join the Kurdish army and take on the Islamic State. Baha (Golshifteh Farahani), together with her Kurdish army called Girls of the Sun, plans the liberation of her Kurdistan village and the freeing of her son (Tornike Alievi) taken hostage by extremists.


French journalist Mathilde (Emmanuelle Bercot), herself traumatised by the recent death of her husband in Libya, arrives to cover the story of Baha and the Girls of the Sun. While on assignment, spending time with the all-female unit of former ISIS captives, Mathilde faces her own inner demons and finds strength through adversity.


Girls of the Sun pays respect to largely unacknowledged Kurdish female warriors who have played a monumental role in the fight against Daesh in an unashamedly emotional film.




Elsa Amiel, writer-director of the film Pearl describes it thus:

“When a female athlete fights to achieve excellence, she also represents a woman’s fight to simply BE.”

It’s three days before Miss Heaven, a female bodybuilding competition and Léa Pearl (played by professional bodybuilder Julia Föry) is preparing to compete. Her ex-lover Ben (Arieh Worthalter) resurfaces together with the 6 year old son that she barely knows, asking her to look after him. This and training pressures pushes Léa to the edge.

In Pearl, Elsa Amiel challenges traditional notions of femininity and beauty.


Dilili in Paris/Dilili à Paris


In Dilili in Paris, Michel Ocelot, master of animation, takes us on a journey back to Belle Époque Paris in this animated kidnapping investigation by 6 year old Dilili. She is assisted by local delivery boy, Orel, who knows all the important people from the Belle Époque such as Marie Curie, Picasso, Renoir, Louis Pasteur, Gustave Eiffel and Colette. These characters as well as the famous Parisian landmarks that remain today all have a role to play in Dilili’s investigation.


Dilili in Paris is an animated masterpiece with colourful 2D animated characters placed over photo-realistic backdrops but also a lesson in French cultural history. When this film opened the 2018 Annecy International Animation Film Festival, it sold out in five minutes!



Remi, Nobody’s boy/Remi sans famille


Remi, Nobody’s Boy tells the story of Remi, an orphan entrusted to a peasant woman who is then taken and put into the care of Vitalis (Daniel Auteuil) an eccentric, wandering musician.

Plenty of star performers in this film: Daniel Auteuil, Virginie Ledoyen and Ludivigne Sagnier, and Maleaume Paquin as the protagonist, Remi.

Making a living as a street performer is difficult but Remi is not alone and does so with his dog, Capi, and a little monkey, Joli-Coeur. Together, they criss-cross a re-imagined France from a bygone era, meeting new people, making new friends and helping others.

These adventures all lead to Remi’s ultimate revelation – where does he really come from? Remi, Nobody’s Boy is an enchanting family film based on Hector Malot’s 1878 book of the same name.

Want to stream more French films? Take a look at AFFFF 2019 films available to stream via Kanopy 


Have you watched any good French films lately? If so, Which ones?



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2019 Alliance Française French Film Festival

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