2021 in review: a year of French culture in Australia

Reading Time: 7 minutes

As we prepare to farewell 2021, we thought we’d take a look at the highlights of French culture in Australia this year on Matilda Marseillaise. We’ve had celebrations of French food and wine to art exhibitions, festivals and other events with French themes. We’ve interviewed people across many areas including international touring artists and local French and francophone people. Join us as we look back over 2021.

 

French culture in Australia: French Food days

Food is an extremely important part of French culture in Australia as much as in France. January was of course the month of the Galette des Rois which is always one of our most popular posts and has become the go-to resource for French and Francophiles in Australia to find out where they can buy this special cake around Australia.

 

We celebrated Croissant Day with a brief history of the croissant and again letting you know where you can buy croissants from French bakeries in Australia. Then we turned to a sweeter treat for Chocolate Truffle Day. Another day to indulge in all things cacao was World Chocolate Day.

 

We also wrote about Cheese Lovers’ Day for the first time with a focus on cheese subscriptions and celebrated Mouldy Cheese Day in October. As always, Christmas was celebrated with the Bûche de Noël.

French culture in Australia - food days

 

French culture in Australia: Drinks Days

You can’t have food without something to drink and we continued our French wine varietal series throughout the year with facts about the varietals and recommendations from French wine importers in Australia. We also celebrated World Bartenders Day with French cocktails.

 

We looked at French spirits and liqueurs: Chartreuse Day with a look at the history of the green drink and a day celebrating another often-green drink: Absinthe Day. In addition, we discovered strong French links in one of the most popular spirits of the moment: gin. We also celebrated another spirit that you probably don’t associate with France: vodka.

 

Champagne and sparkling wine gave us moments of celebration throughout 2021 with various festivals: Sparkling Fest, Bubbles Festival, Taste Champagne, Effervescence Tasmania.

French drinks days

 

French culture in Australia during Festival time

Australia’s borders were still shut due to COVID-19 so festival time didn’t feature any international acts in 2021. 2021 highlights instead were French themed shows or shows from artists with French links at Adelaide Fringe, Adelaide Festival and Sydney Festival. These provided opportunities to enjoy French culture in Australia.

 

Particularly strong French links were found in performances at Adelaide Fringe including music in different styles, theatre and more. The White Mouse told the story of Australian French Resistance leader, Nancy Wake. Louise Blackwell and the Paris Set took us to Paris for the night.

 

By the time June came, Adelaide Cabaret Festival was able to bring in a few international acts including Brent Ray Fraser, who paints with a very unique and personal tool. Kim David Smith gave a strong nod to Marlene Dietrich with his show Mostly Marlene also at Adelaide Cabaret Festival.

 

Auburn in South Australia’s Clare Valley was transformed into a French village and a celebration of French culture in Australia for a weekend at the inaugural Auburn Frenchfest, which will return in 2023.

 

Le Festival was held over 4 separate events throughout the year, bringing 4 weekends of French joy to Brisbane.

French culture in Australia - festivals

 

French and francophone culture in Australia: National Days

We celebrated (even if virtually for some) the national days of a number of Francophone countries: Canada Day, Bastille Day, Belgian National Day and Swiss National Day as well as Alsace Fan Day.

 

French culture in Australia via exhibitions

Fortunately, COVID-19 didn’t stop international works of art coming to Australia. Exhibition highlights included a number of exciting exhibitions with French links including: French Impressionism: From the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Camille Henrot: is Today Tomorrow, and She-oak and sunlight: Australian impressionism.

 

Most recently the NGV opened the Gabrielle Chanel: Fashion Manifesto exhibition and the Art Gallery of New South Wales opened its Matisse: Life and Spirit.

 

An international exhibition of a different scale and type, Van Gogh Alive also toured in 2021 and continues to tour Australia. Our Hearts are Still Open, a photographic exhibition and book were recently unveiled in Sydney and we chatted to Australian-born photojournalist Tony Maniaty about them.

French culture in Australia / la culture française en Australie

 

French and francophone film

The Alliance Française French Film Festival returned to the big screen in March and April 2021. Highlights for us included Bye Bye MoronsMiss among those that we reviewed. Countless others were also enjoyed. Because of COVID-19 lockdowns throughout Europe for much of 2020, Australian audiences were the first to see a number of films shown at the AFFFF 2021 including Eiffel and Delicious. We interviewed incoming Artistic Director of the festival, Karine Mauris.

 

One of our most read film reviews this year was for a film which is now on SBS on Demand: Roxane. With most of the Eastern states in lockdown over several months of the year, our articles about previous festival films available on streaming services were also well-read.

 

French and francophone films also featured at the Jewish International Film Festival and at the Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney Film Festivals.

 

French culture in Australia via music

We interviewed Sydney music duo Goldfynch on the occasion of their release of the beautiful escapist song “Ballooning over Paris” something we all longed to do with Australia’s closed borders. Baby et Lulu’s much anticipated Album Trois was finally released and we chatted to Lara Goodridge.  Pauline Maudy of MZAZA toured her show “Take me to Paris” around Queensland.

 

Sticking with the musical theme, we also interviewed Elena Gabouri ahead of her performances in Opera Australia’s Aida in Sydney and in Melbourne. Nicolas Fleury, French horn player from Melbourne Symphony Orchestra chatted with us. On the theme of opera and classical music, Pinchgut Opera presented Platée for the very first time on Australian stages.

 

Our favourite French festival So Frenchy So Chic announced a return to Melbourne and Sydney in February 2022.

French culture in Australia/ la culture française en Australie

 

French culture in Australia via theatre

2021 saw the return of French theatre to Australian stages. Brisbane French Theatre presented its original play Us and Them. Perth French Theatre invited you to the circle of illusionists and after many false starts, Melbourne French Theatre was able to present its new show, The Candidate.

 

French culture in Australia in sport

The French Rugby team Les Bleus played 3 test matches against Australia’s Wallabies in Sydney and in Brisbane. We told you where you could watch them around Australia.

 

Other French happenings

Adelaide’s Les Deux Coqs in conjunction with Holdfast Bay City council started Rendezvous Market, a European Market with foods and crafts from many European countries being represented.

 

Glasshouse Fragrances’ launched a French inspired collection just in time for Bastille Day with delicious scents of Montmartre Macaron and Sacred Heart.

 

We made sure you knew your French (and Belgian) dogs from the imposters for International Dog Day in August.

 

In November, Sacreblue, the Embassy of France in Australia’s brand new website dedicated to French culture in English was launched and we were finally able to announce our partnership with them.

French culture in Australia/ la culture française en Australie

 

Interviews 

We interviewed cabaret singer Caroline Nin and director Craig Ilott about L’Hôtel, an immersive theatrical world of French intrigue which made its worldwide debut at Adelaide Cabaret Festival in June.

 

We interviewed a man who is perhaps Australia’s most famous French television chef, Gabriel Gaté for International Chefs Day.

 

One of the first international productions to visit Australia since COVID-19 struck and closed our borders in March 2020 was The Little Prince, direct from Marseille to the Sydney Opera House. We interviewed Chris Mouron who adapted the book for stage, Ebony Bott of the SOH about the logistics of bringing an international team to Australia, and staging a large show during COVID-19 times. The Little Prince is making a return to Sydney for a limited season of shows in early January – read our interview with Lionel Zalachas and Laurisse Sulty

 

We chatted to Michael Boyd, illusionist and also show director of Cabaret de Paris which started its Australian tour with new lead, Rhonda Burchmore.

 

We spoke to Australian author Pip Drysdale about her thrilling novel The Paris Affair.

 

Most recently, we chatted with Priscilla Doueihy ahead of her performances at Sydney Festival 2022 show 44 Sex Acts in One Week; Erin Helyard about piano and French composers ahead of Adelaide Festival 2022 shows Four Hands at the Érard and Evolution of the Piano.

 

French businesses in Australia

We published interviews with founders of French businesses promoting French culture in Australia including:

 

French culture in Australia/ la culture française en Australie

We supported local French businesses by getting them to contribute their recommendations for Christmas gifts for francophiles. When many of the Australian states went back into lockdown, we let you know where you could purchase French take-away food.

 

Sofitel Adelaide, its French restaurant Garçon Bleu, and street level champagne bar Déjà Vu, were long awaited additions to Adelaide’s 5-star hotel and dining scene.

 

The French Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry held events both virtual and in person, where permitted, throughout the year including the French ANZ Business Days 2021 business forum which covered a number of interesting and pertinent topics.

 

It’s been a busy year! What have your highlights been? Is there anything you’d like to see on Matilda Marseillaise in 2022?

Love Songs for Tough Guys: a comedy about ageing gang members getting in touch with their softer sides

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Love Songs for Tough Guys, original French title Cette musique ne joue pour personne, is a French comedy from director Samuel Benchetrit (I always wanted to be a Gangster, SFF 2008). Starring François Damiens, Vanessa Paradis and Ramzy Bedia among others, the film tells the story of a bunch of ageing gang members who are finding their softer sides but struggling to suppress their angry, occasionally violent sides.

Love Songs for Tough Guys

There are nods to Cyarno de Bergerac in Love Songs for Tough Guys. Jeff’s henchman, played by Ramzy Bedia. forced to deliver poems to a young supermarket cashier named Roxane for whom Jeff (François Damiens) has written them. Throughout the film, the poems are delivered while she is on shift and are met with an exasperated Roxane who neither understands the handwriting or the sense of the words written in them. Not the best way to woo someone!

cette musique ne joue pour personne

Vanessa Paradis (married to director Samuel Benchetrit in real life) is brilliant, as always, in her role of Suzanne. This time she plays a singer who is about to perform in a truly absurd musical about Simone de Beauvoir and Sartre? When she’s not in character, she has a bad stutter, when in character she is poised and confident.

 

She crosses paths with, and inevitably changes, Jacky (Gustave Kervern), when he meets her, having gone to rough up her partner, an accountant who owes Jeff money. In the most unlikely of circumstances Jacky develops a strong crush on Suzanne and worms his way into being with her at rehearsals.

cette musique ne joue pour personne

In the background to these softening, once hardened men, we see a young gang trying to take over their turf. There’s the overlooked wife of Jacky (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi) – who sits at home watching reality TV in her track pants. The teenaged daughter of a gang boss with no friends and Dad’s enforcers trying to force people to come to her party.

 

Love Songs for Tough Guys was a thoroughly enjoyable comedic journey into the lives of men finding their softer sides and a joy to watch.

 

🥐🥐🥐🥐🥐

5 CROISSANTS

 

Love Songs for Tough Guys screening and ticket information

There is one screening remaining of Love Songs for Tough Guys at Sydney Film Festival: Sunday 14 November at 12:45pm at the State Theatre. You can purchase your tickets via this link:

https://www.sff.org.au/program/browse/love-songs-for-tough-guys

 

You may also like to view our other Sydney Film Festival 2021 content:

9 films in French to see at Sydney Film Festival 2021

19 multilingual films including French to see at SFF 2021

15 films with French links that are not in French at SFF 2021

My Best Part, original French title Garçon Chiffon, is an unnecessarily painful, drawn-out film.

 

If you’d prefer to stream French films at home:

Alliance Française 2020 French Film Festival films to stream/rent online

Melbourne, you don’t have to miss out on the AFFFF 2020 films!

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

Feel like you’ve watched all of Netflix? Ritz cinemas has 134 French films available for stream rental

 

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Love songs for tough guys