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

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The Alliance Française French Film Festival (AFFFF)  2020 has been postponed but you can watch a number of the AFFFF 2019 films at home on streaming services. In this and the next articles, we will tell you which AFFFF 2019 films are available online and where you can find them. In this article, it’s the films only available on a free streaming service called Kanopy.

AFFFF 2019

But what is Kanopy?

Kanopy is a streaming service linked to your library that you can watch wherever – all you need is a library membership and an internet connection.


The number of films that you can watch on Kanopy depends on your library – mine allows me 10 films per month.


How do I access Kanopy?

Sign up directly on the Kanopy website. If you are already a library member, or university student, you can follow the steps at https://www.kanopy.com/signup/


Not a library member? No problem

If you’re not a library member, don’t worry, you can sign up to become a member of your local library online by following the steps below:

  1. Find the library that you wish to join https://www.kanopy.com/signup/find/publiclibrary#
  2. Then click “Select this library”.
  3. You will be redirected to the “sign in” page. Scroll down to where it says “Need a card? Apply with your library here” and click on it.
  4. The homepage of the library you have selected will open. Look for “join” or “become a member” or something similar – each library page is different
  5. Insert your details and you will be given a membership number which you can then use to sign up to Kanopy.




Last year at Marienbad/ L’année dernière à Marienbad


Even more than half a century later, Alain Resnais’ para-surrealist masterpiece is as powerful today as when it was originally released at the height of the French New Wave. The AFFFF 2019 screened a newly restored 35mm print financed by the fashion house, Chanel, which also designed Delphine Seyrig’s gowns for the film.


The film is set within a Baroque mansion which appears to be frozen in time, captured by the camera’s continuous panning of the luxe interiors, Last Year at Marienbad focuses on two central, unnamed characters – one a French woman and an Italian man. They may have been lovers at the hotel the previous year but this year, the woman denies knowing him. Another man, possibly her husband, asserts his dominance by constantly challenging and beating the Italian man at the mathematical game of nim. Ambiguous voiceovers, unusual shifts in time and place, and repeated lines of dialogue allow us to be immersed in Resnais’ at once dreamlike and nightmarish world. Marienbad is a triumph of French cinema that knows no equal.


One Nation, One King / Un peuple et son roi


One Nation, One King is Pierre Schoeller’s grandiose retelling of the 1789 French revolutionary events. It is also the most expensive film produced in France for that year, and the much-anticipated follow-up to his 2011 Cannes Un Certain Regard and multiple César award-winning feature, L’Exercice de l’État.


The Bastille has been stormed. The winds of liberty are billowing through the streets of Paris. A young woman, Françoise (played by Adèle Haenel), and the handsome Basile (played by Gaspard Ulliel), start to bring their dreams of emancipation in the newly created political system to life. Opposition grows against King Louis XVI (Laurent Lafitte) and rioters take to the streets. Despite their basic status, Françoise and Basile ride the tides of change as the seeds of the new republic are planted.


If you love period dramas, this film is a must-see.


The Image Book/ Le livre d’image


Jean-Luc Godard, French New Wave luminary presents his most recent feature-length film with The Image Book, which also won the special Palme d’Or at Cannes 2018.


In The Image Book, the 87-year-old Godard demonstrates the talent and vivacity of a filmmaker of half his age, tossing narrative structure and dramatic performances to create a sound-and-image collage – a work of audio-visual poetry.


The film may leave you in a state of inward reflection and rumination after experiencing Godard’s striking visual commentary on our contemporary existence. You’re unlikely to look a things the same way, nor desire to.



Promise at Dawn / La promesse de l’aube


You may recall Romain Gary, author and diplomat who was married to Jean Seberg. However Promise at Dawn is about Gary’s earlier life. In a fictionalised retelling, Romain Gary attributes his successes to his mother who was both endearing and eccentric but also at times overbearing with her maternal love that knows no end.


This second adaptation Promise at Dawn stars Pierre Niney as Gary and Charlotte Gainsbourg as his mother, Nina. At every moment in Gary’s life, Nina leaves her mark. She pushes Gary towards his dreams and aspirations, leading him to his novel Promise at Dawn, frantically written in his final days during Mexico’s Dia de los Muertos celebrations.


High Life


Claire Denis, one of France’s most impressive and provocative contemporary filmmakers, ventures into science-fiction and the English language in High Life. 


Denis’ penchant for anatomical matters sees her focus on biology and on flesh and blood even in her science-fiction venture. In High Life, way beyond our solar system, Monte (Robert Pattinson) and his baby daughter, Willow, drift closer to a black hole where all time and space cease to exist. They are the sole survivors of a prison crew where they were treated as human guinea pigs. Willow is an experiment, fathered by Monte against his will to Boyse (Mia Goth) after the deranged Dr Dibs (Juliette Binoche) harvested his sperm.


Knife + Heart / Un couteau dans le cœur


Yann Gonzales’ Knife+Heart sees Vanessa Paradis as a gay porn producer Anne in Paris’ Summer 1979. Dumped by her girlfriend and editor Loïs (Kate Moran), Anne is desperate to regain her love and decides to do so by shooting her most ambitious film to date.

However, when one of her actors is brutally murdered, Anne finds herself in the middle of a very strange investigation.


The Wild Boys/ Les garçons sauvages


In this “weird and wonderful” debut feature by Bertrand Mandico female actors are cast in the roles of violent teenage boys.

The actions takes place at the beginning of the 20th century on the island of Réunion. A group of boys from affluent backgrounds commit a savage crime; their punishment – being put under the charge of a sadistic Dutch captain. The captain takes them on a tyrannical voyage on his haunted sailboat. When the boat docks, it’s on a supernatural island where exotic and erotic vegetation transforms them and their reality.


You want to see more French movies?

We will tell you where you can watch other films from 2019 AFFFF in our next articles. While you wait, take a look at the trailer for the 2019 AFFFF.

AFFFF 2019


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