The Alliance Française French Film Festival 2024 celebrates the 35th anniversary of the festival and Artistic Director Karine Mauris has curated an impressive program of 41 films to celebrate both the anniversary and her last festival in the role.
Big budget epics
Alliance Française French Film Festival 2024 features a number of big budget epics: The Three Musketeers: d’Artagnan and The Three Musketeers: Milady (which are also screening as a double bill), Juliette Binoche in The Taste of Things (La Passion de Dodin Bouffant) blends cooking with romance (perhaps like Delicious) and Maïwenn‘s Jeanne du Barry starring Johhny Depp in a French speaking role.
English speaking actors
While, we assume not speaking French, another English-speaking actor in a French film in the program is John Malkovich in Mr Blake at your service where he plays a British businessmen turned butler in the house of Madame de Beauvilier played by Fanny Ardent. It was adapted from the director Gilles Legarinier’s own novel of the same name as the French title Completement Cramé.
Other films adopted from novels include The Taste of Things (mentioned above) which was adapted from Marcel Rouff’s The Life and Passion of Dodin-Bouffant, Gourmet; and Soudain/Suddenly from Isabelle Autissier’s novel of the same French name. It is a tale of romance and survival as a couple of five years take on a world sailing journey but end up struck by disaster, isolated from the world and in danger.
Unlikely friendships and a look at life
A Great Friend is about an unlikely friendship between a mountain living recluse played by Gregory Gadebois and the founder of Europe’s biggest dating website. Gadebois is is on the up and up since Délicieux. It also forces each of the men to look at their own lives. Camille Cotin stars as the sole parent of 5 teenagers in Toni (Toni en Famille), in which she finds herself questioning her life and where she wants to go next as the eldest prepare to leave for university.
Set in 1887, The Edge of the Blade (Une affaire d’honneur) sees an unlikely pairing. Roschdy Zem (Other People’s Children, AF FFF23) stars as a legendary swordsman Clément Lacaze who is entangled in an illegal fencing bout between his nephew and a far more experienced army colonel. Women’s rights activist Marie-Rose Astié (Doria Tillier, La Belle Époque, AF FFF21) attempts to manipulate the conventions of duelling to raise attention for her own cause. When Clément and Marie-Rose join forces, they must defend so much more than outdated notions of honour.
The President’s Wife (Bernadette) stars Catherine Deneuve in the role of Bernadette Chirac, Jacques Chirac’s wife has been chosen as the Ladies Night film and Karine Mauris describes it as “Legally Blonde but played by an 80 year old woman“. Another film in the Alliance Française French Film Festival 2024 which is based on the lives of real people is Bonnard, Pierre and Marthe, a historical drama which traces 5 decades of the mysterious relationship between Pierre Bonnard (played by Vincent Macaigne), and Marthe de Méligny (played by Cecile de France).
Divertimento is based on the true story of renowned conductor Zahia Ziouani and her sister cellist Fettouma Ziouani who courageously battle the odds in seeking acceptance in the Parisian classical music scene but also taking symphonic music to their community. Another biopic is Abbé Pierre: A Century of Devotion which charts the incredible life of the priest but above all humanist Henri Grouès (Benjamin Lavernhe) “Abbé Pierre”, who, after joining the resistance and surviving the War, dedicated his life to others.
It’s raining men
Iris and the Men sees Laure Calamy and director Caroline Vignal reunite – their last hit was Antoinette in the Cevennes. This time married Iris played by Laure Calamy opens Pandora’s box when she signs up for a dating app and it starts raining men. The festival includes a Canadian film and gives it its own Canadian night this year with The Nature of Love (Simple come Sylvian) which gives a nod to cheesy romance films of the 70s in its depiction of a married woman who has an affair with the man contracted to renovate her and her husband’s holiday home.
Isabelle Huppert stars in The Sitting Duck (La syndicaliste) in which she plays real-life whistle blower Maureen Kearney, a trade unionist who took on the nuclear industry at an immense personal cost when she revealed an unsettling deal made between French and Chinese power companies. Huppert also stars in Sidonie in Japan (Sidonie au Japon) where she plays a widowed, once acclaimed French author, who reluctantly travels to Japan to promote the translation of her very first novel. She finds herself in an unlikely love triangle with her publisher and the ghost of her dead husband.
Inspired by true situations
All your faces (Je verrai toujours vos visages) is a film about the Restorative Justice program which allows an open dialogue between crime victims and offenders. It stars Adèle Exarchopoulos (Blue Is the Warmest Colour) and Gilles Lellouche (Smoking causes coughing, AFFFF 23, Farewell Mr Haffmann, Goliath, and Kompromat, AFFFF 22).
Party of Fools (Captives) is set in the notorious Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital for “madwomen”, which held an annual prestigious ball, the Bal des Folles, in which the patients were forced to parade in carnival costumes. This is sure to be a compelling story of friendships, alliances, and the oppressive, inhumane treatment these women were subjected to. It stars Mélanie Thierry (Memoir of War, AF FFF19) as Fanni, a woman who voluntarily admits herself to the grim institution to look for her mother, the incredible cast also includes fellow “madwomen” Marina Foïs (Freestyle, AFFFF23), Carole Bouquet (Kiss & Tell, AF FFF19), Josiane Balasko (The Hedgehog) and Dominique Frot (Titane).
A taboo-breaking film, which explores the relationship between a woman and her teenage stepson is provocateur filmmaker Catherine Breillat (Romance, Sex is Comedy)’s Last Summer. It stars Léa Drucker (Close, Custody) as the happily married, respected child protection lawyer who finds her world turned upside down.
We are really excited for the return of Daniel Auteuil to the film festival (he was in Farewell, Mr Haffmann in AFFFF 2022) but there had been a long hiatus before that) in A Silence. He stars with Emmanuelle Devos (Perfume) as a married couple with an adopted son who deal with the fallout from the very public exposure of a long-held and hidden family secret. Secrets are also a theme in Rosalie in which Rosalie (Nadia Tereszkiewicz, The Crime Is Mine), hides a secret, one which Abel (Benoît Magimel, also in The Taste of Things at this year’s AFFFF), who marries her for her dowry is about to find out.
The past comes back to haunt us
Out of Season (Hors-saison) explores choices made and what might have been when a now famous actor Mathieu (played by Guillaume Canet) escapes to a luxury health spa and receives a text from Alice (Alba Rohrwacher), a woman he dated 15 years earlier. They are both torn by the way in which they parted and agree to meet for lunch. Past actions and hidden desires haunt the characters in post-war France in Along came love (Le temps d’aimer). Their relationship starts when Madeleine (Anaïs Demoustier, November, AF FFF23) is a young single mother and François (Vincent Lacoste, Lost Illusions, AF FFF22) is a university student.
Marguerite (Ella Rumpf, Raw) is the only woman in her mathematics class at the elite École Normale Supérieure in Marguerite’s Theorem (Le Théorème de Marguerite). The mathematician’s world falls apart when a new student finds a flaw in her thesis and she is then dismissed by her supervisor for being too emotional. She is forced to navigate the real world and find the balance between the rational mind and emotional responses.
The French do great comedies and there are plenty to choose from at the Alliance Française French Film Festival 2024. Closing night film Second Round, brought to us from the wonderful Albert Dupontel from Bye Bye Morons, is a hilarious and cheeky savaging of modern politics and media. It also stars Cécile de France.
Filmmakers Éric Tolédano, Olivier Nakache can do no wrong and we are excited to see their return with A Difficult Year (Une année difficile) in which two compulsive spenders try to scam their way out of trouble via a social activist group. With Pio Marmaï, Jonathan Cohen, Noémie Merlant and Mathieu Amalric in the cast, this is sure to be a fun film. The same directors’ 2012 smash hit The Intouchables will also screen at the Alliance Française French Film Festival 2024 having received the audience vote for which film to bring back for the the 35th anniversary of the festival through the Alliance Françaises who are part of the festival. Another film from the past making a return to the silver screen for the festival is the masterpiece The Children of Paradise, which will receive only one screening in each city.
Wilderness Therapy (Pétaouchnok) sees inexperienced impostor guides take tourists on what should be a pleasant horseback tour of the Pyrenees but instead becomes a life-threatening adventure with close encounters with wild animals, food poisoning, and much more along the way. King of My Castle (Kholop, Le serf) sees a spoilt playboy son taught a lesson by drugging, kidnapping and dumping him in a constructed 18th century village, to which he will believe he has time-travelled and is now the peasant not the rich playboy. It’s from the same writers as Welcome to the Sticks (Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis),so is bound to be lots of fun.
Renowned sports journalist, former professional rugby player and filmmaker Philippe Guillard directs A Chance to Win (Pour L’honneur) which brings long-harboured resentments and pettiness between two villages to the fore in the lead up to their 100th Rugby match. The arrival of asylum seekers shakes up the dynamic. Take a chance on me brings people from opposite worlds together when an older Judge played by Michel Blanc (A Good Doctor, AFFFF 2023) hires Marie-Line (Louane Emera), someone he has just ruled against in his Court. to be his driver.
The Book of Solutions (Le Livre des solutions) is a semi-autobiographical comedy about a filmmaker struggling to complete his new film. It stars Pierre Niney (Masquerade, Black Box, The Wolf’s Call) as the filmmaker Marc. He is joined by a small crew of “exhausted, long-suffering and most loyal collaborators” struggling to finish the project.
Àma Gloria explores the relationship between a 6 year old French child and her nanny when the relationship is unexpectedly at risk and her nanny may no longer be able to be her carer. Animal Kingdom is set in a not-so-distant future where humans are mutating into animals. When their wife/mother is transformed, father and son François (Romain Duris) and Émile (Paul Kircher Winter Boy, AF FFF23) relocate near a new institution designed to house these hybrid human/animals.
Not just for kids
Neneh Superstar depicts Neneh’s fight against the odds of a socially disadvantaged background and racism against black dancers to climb the ranks at the Paris Opera Ballet School. Princes of the Desert (Zodi et Téhu, Frères du Désert) sees a 12-year-old Berber boy adopt Téhu, an orphaned camel and train him to win The Golden Sword, a camel racing prize worth enough to save his tribe. Another family film is Kina & Yuk (Kina & Yuk, Renards de la Banquise) which takes us on an epic journey to the icy wilderness of the Arctic where two foxes face global warming in their quest to find each other again before the cubs are born.
Global warming is also a theme in The Snow Must Go On, in which a teacher leads students on a day trip to the heart of a glacier beneath Mont Blanc. The final film in the “Family Ties” section is Nina and the Secret of the Hedgehog (Nina et le secret du hérisson), an animated feature from the pair who animated the internationally successful A Cat in Paris. The voices will be familiar too with Audrey Tautou and Guillaume Canet (who both appeared together 16 years ago in Hunting & Gathering) voicing the characters.
So, as you can see the Alliance Française French Film Festival 2024 is a program of 41 films that are quite varied and there is something to suit all tastes. Tickets are now on sale so get planning and buy your tickets soon so you don’t miss out on your preferred sessions!
KEY INFO FOR ALLIANCE FRANÇAISE FRENCH FILM FESTIVAL 2024
WHAT: Alliance Française French Film Festival 2024
WHERE & WHEN:
Adelaide: 21 March – 16 April
Venues: Palace Nova Prospect Cinemas, Palace Nova Eastend Cinemas
Bendigo 19 April -21 April
Brisbane: 5 March – 2 April
Venues: Palace James Street, Palace Barracks
Bunbury : 18 April – 21 April
Byron Bay: 7 March – 27 March
Venue: Palace Byron Bay
Canberra: 7 March – 2 April
Venue: Palace Electric Cinema
Gold Coast: 3 April – 16 April
Venues: Dendy Cinemas Southport
Hobart: 4 April – 14 April
Melbourne: 6 March – 2 April
Venues: Palace Cinema Como, The Kino, Palace Balwyn, Palace Brighton Bay, Palace Westgarth, Pentridge Cinema, Palace Penny Lane (new in 2024), The Astor Theatre
Mount Gambier: 17 April to 21 April
Parramatta: 11 April to 14 April
Perth: 6 March – 2 April
Venues: Palace Raine Square, Luna on SX, Luna Leederville, Windsor Cinema
Renmark: 22 March – 6 April
Sydney: 5 March – 9 April
Venues: Palace Central, Palace Norton Street, Chauvel Cinema, Palace Moore Park (new in 2024), Hayden Orpheum Cremorne and Roseville Cinemas
Victor Harbor: 4 April to 10 April
HOW: View the program and the schedule for your city via the festival’s website
HOW MUCH: Ticket prices vary but there are discounts for Palace cinema and Alliance Française members. There are also 5, 10 and 20 film passes which give good discounts.
Want to watch last year’s films? Stream Alliance Française French Film Festival 2023 films
Also don’t miss My French Film Festival 2024: 26 films to stream over 30 days
And last chance: French movies and series leaving SBS on Demand in February 2024