9 films in French to see at Sydney Film Festival 2021

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Sydney Film Festival 2021 is back in cinemas (and for the first time online) from 3 to 21 November 2021. Over the next few weeks, we’re going to tell you about films in only French, multilingual films including French and films from France that are not in French that will be showing in venues and streaming on demand as part of Sydney Film Festival.

Sydney Film Festival 2021

We start our Sydney Film Festival 2021 coverage today with films in French in cinemas at Sydney Film Festival 2021. Find out more below.


Anaïs in Love (Les Amours d’Anaïs)

6 & 14 November
Directed by Charline Bourgeois-Tacquet
98 minutes

In this delightful French romantic comedy, a young woman (Anaïs Demoustier) begins an affair with Daniel, a much older man who is a publisher (Denis Podalydès) but then falls for his wife Emilie (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi).


The three collide at a writers’ symposium, and while clueless Daniel tries to keep his affair concealed, things heat up between the two women. Comic situations abound in Charline Bourgeois-Tacquet’s sparkling debut feature – an enchanting story of profound desire. Selected for Cannes Critics’ Week.


Beautiful Minds (Presque)

6, 7 & 14 November
Directed by Bernard Campan, Alexandre Jollien 2021
France, Switzerland

88 minutes
Unclassified 18+

Dour, workaholic funeral director Louis (Bernard Campan) and Igor (Alexandre Jollien), a philosophical grocery delivery man make an oddball duo as they embark on an unconventional road trip in this captivating French comedy full of joie de vivre.

Along the way they discuss everything from Nietzsche to being pigeon-holed. The film is inspired by the real-life experiences of award-winning author and philosopher Jollien (In Praise of Weakness, In Search of Wisdom), who has found success as a major thinker, spiritual teacher and actor.


Love Songs for Tough Guys (Cette musique ne joue pour personne)

5 & 14 November 2021
Directed by Samuel Benchetrit
France, Belgium
107 minutes
Unclassified 18+

Vanessa Paradis stars in a delightfully unconventional comedy about ageing crooks finding love through poetry and the performing arts. Official Selection, Cannes 2021.


Veteran gang boss Jeff (François Damiens) should be concerned about the young punks muscling in on his turf but his main concern is winning the heart of Roxane, a young supermarket cashier he adores from afar. Taking a leaf from the Cyrano de Bergerac playbook, Jeff writes love poems to Roxane that are hand-delivered by his henchman (Ramzy Bedia). Meanwhile, Jeff’s grizzled enforcer Jacky (Gustave Kervern) meets Suzanne (Paradis), a suburban widow about to play Simone de Beauvoir in a community theatre musical.


With an all-star ensemble including Bouli Lanners, Joeystarr and Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, Samuel Benchetrit’s (I Always Wanted to Be a Gangster, SFF 2008) new film is wonderfully eccentric, huge-hearted and giddily romantic.


My Best Part

4 & 6 November
Directed by Nicolas Maury
110 minutes
Unclassified 18+

Nicolas Maury (who we loved in Call My Agent!) directs and stars alongside French icon Nathalie Baye (who was in the episode of Call my Agent about the mother and daughter being offered the same film) in the bittersweet tale of a highly strung actor and his doting mother.


Parisian actor Jérémie Meyer’s life is falling apart. He’s just been overlooked for a prized film role, and his fed-up boyfriend has called time on their relationship. Wracked by uncontrollable jealousy – “I feed on my own poison” – Jérémie escapes to his mother’s house in the lush woodlands of Saint-Auvent in Limousin. Can he find new romance with mum’s hunky new assistant? Or will his insecurities prove too much for even his adoring mother to bear? This frank and wickedly funny human drama features marvellous performances by Maury as the fragile son and Baye as the supportive mother whose slowly revealed past brings rich emotional complexity.


Paris, 13th District

8 & 13 November
Directed by Jacques Audiard
106 minutes

Palme d’Or winner Jacques Audiard’s (A Prophet, Rust and Bone, Dheepan) tale of Parisian young love and sex is a vibrant adaptation of Adrian Tomine’s graphic novel Killing and Dying. Paris, 13th District was also co-written with two of French cinema’s brightest writer-directors, Léa Mysius (Ava) and Céline Sciamma (Petite Maman, SFF 2021).


Emilie (Lucie Zhang), a graduate of a prestigious university, works a lowly job in a call centre, and lives in an apartment belonging to her nursing home bound grandmother. When she takes on handsome Camille (Makita Samba) as a roommate, the two begin an intense sexual arrangement. However, Camille isn’t looking for a relationship, and the friendship soon sours. Then Camille falls for Nora (Noémie Merlant, Portrait of a Lady on Fire, SFF 2019), a law student forced to leave her university after she’s mistaken for a “cam girl”.


Co-written with two of French cinema’s brightest writer-directors, Léa Mysius (Ava) and Céline Sciamma (Petite Maman, SFF 2021), Paris, 13th District sees Audiard explore exciting new terrain with high impact results.


Petite Maman

9, 10 & 12 November
Directed by Céline Sciamma
72 minutes

Céline Sciamma’s follow-up to award-winning Portrait of a Lady on Fire (SFF 2019) and Tomboy (SFF 2011) is an evocative and magical tale of mothers and daughters. In Competition, Berlinale 2021.


Like in Sciamma’s previous films, Petite Maman tells the tale of childhood. 8 year old Nelly farewells the residents of the nursing home where her grandmother recently passed. While at her grandmother’s home helping her mother clear out her belongings, Nelly searches the woods looking for the treehouse her mother built as a child. She finds a girl of the same age, also called Marion and the two form a remarkable relationship.


Claire Mathon’s cinema cinematography (she too was an award winner for Portrait of a Lady on Fire) gives Petite Maman a fairytale-like quality, underlined by the young actors’ magical performances, that speaks to the timelessness of Sciamma’s themes.



3 & 10 November in cinema & 12 November SFF on Demand
Directed by Charlène Favier
92 minutes
Unclassified 18+

Slalom depicts abuse and obsession at the hands of a domineering coach towards a teenage competitive skier.


Lyz, an elite athlete feels most at home tackling the Slalom – a winding, downhill ski race. She is talented and motivated to win, a quality noticed by her severe ski coach. Slalom tackles #MeToo issues with frankness against the backdrop of Lyz’s freefall in the loneliness of the French alps.


Charlène Favier is a French director, writer and producer. She is the founder of Charlie Bus Production. Her short Odol Gorri (2018) was nominated for Best Short Film at the Césars.



4 November (selling fast), 9 November (avail) & 13 November (sold out)
Directed by Julia Ducournau
France, Belgium
108 minutes

Winner of the 2021 Cannes Palme d’Or, Julia Ducournau’s (Raw) incendiary film combines body horror, serial killings, gender fluidity, extreme violence, family drama and sex with cars.


Alexia suffers a head injury from a childhood car accident and emerges from surgery with a titanium plate. This leaves her with an emotional and visceral connection to cars. As an adult, Alexia (Agathe Rousselle) works as an exotic dancer at motor shows where she writhes provocatively on automobiles, to a leering male audience. But when a man harasses her, he disappears and a series of murders follow.


But just as the violence ratchets up, Titane transforms into something far more tender, as Alexia takes on the role of a long-missing son of firefighter Vincent (Vincent Lindon). But this is no normal family idyll, for sex with cars can have unintended consequences. Proceed with extreme caution into this wildly inventive cinematic jolt.


BONUS: A documentary from France, with no dialogue


A Night at the Opera (Une nuit à l’opéra)

Directed by Sergei Loznitsa
20 minutes
All Ages
LANGUAGE: N/A No dialogue

Entirely based on archive photos, Sergei Loznitsa (Austerlitz, SFF 2017) revives with humour the fantastic gala evenings organised by the Paris Opera during the 1950s and 1960s. Watch for glimpses of Brigitte Bardot, Jean Cocteau, and Queen Elizabeth II.



WHAT: Sydney Film Festival 2021

WHERE: Various locations across Sydney and some films on demand

WHEN: 3-21 November 2021

HOW: Purchase your tickets via the Sydney Film Festival website: www.sff.org.au


Individual ticket prices are as follows (exclusive of the booking fee)


Adult $21

Concession* $18

Youth (17 and under) $14

Group 10+ $18.50

Casula sessions $17.50/14.50/11.50

Seniors** $12.50


Pass prices are as follows (exclusive of the booking fee)


Flexipass 10 $165 ($16.50 per film)

Flexipass 20 $310 ($15.50 per film)

Flexipass 30 $435 ($14.50 per film)

Youth Pass (15-24 year olds) $75 for 6 films ($12.50 per film)


Which films are you going to see at Sydney Film Festival 2021?



Enter your email to subscribe to new article notifications about all things French and francophone in Australia


Sydney Film Festival 2021

Related Posts

Matilda Marseillaise

Discover more from Matilda Marseillaise

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading