REVIEW: One year, one night is a moving depiction of a couple’s fight to survive after the Bataclan attacks

Reading Time: 3 minutes

One year, one night (Un Año, Una Noche) is a film from Spanish director Isaki Lacuesta making its Australian debut at the Sydney Film Festival today. The film depicts the life of a bi-national couple French Céline (Noémie Merlant (who was also in Paris, 13th district that we reviewed ahead of the Alliance Française French Film Festival 2022)) and Spanish Ramón (Nahuel Pérez Biscayart) living in Paris after surviving the shootings at the Bataclan concert hall in November 2015. It is based on the book Peace, Love and Death Metal written by Bataclan attack survivor Ramón Gonzalez.

One year, one night

One year, one night jolts us between current day and memories of the night of the shootings at the Bataclan just as the characters themselves are constantly jolted and reminded of what happened, and what they survived that night. They each deal with the aftermath of the attacks with polar differences – Céline hasn’t even told her parents, her work colleagues, anyone that she was there that night. Ramón struggles to get back to work and finds himself reliving the night every waking moment. Céline wants to forget and cuts short any conversation among the group of friends that were there with her that night. Ramón becomes obsessed with every single detail and reads every news story. For him, not remembering a detail will lead to catastrophic consequences.


Noémie Merlant and Nahuel Pérez Biscayart give impressive, convincing performances which would have demanded a lot of their emotions. We truly believed we were watching a couple trying to survive and return to their normal lives after they were inexplicably, in a single moment, upturned.

The cinematography is also worthy of mention with some beautifully shot scenes – such as a bathroom scene with the couple having a conversation on either side of the heavily frosted door. The soundtrack is comprised of original songs which have a rock feel – much like the band Eagles of Death Metal that the couple had gone to see at the Bataclan that fateful night.


The only shortcoming in One year, one night is that the timeline was not true to the way events unfolded. In the film, we have the night of November 2015 Bataclan attacks, later followed by the truck attacks in Nice and later still the Eagles of Death Metal returning to the Bataclan. Those two last events were in reality reversed. The second concert was in February 2016 and the Nice truck attacks on Bastille Day in July 2016. Fortunately, knowing this doesn’t significantly alter the experience of watching film.


One year, one night is a beautiful film depicting the realities of trauma following a life-changing attack like that of November 2015 in Paris. Noémie Merlant and Nahuel Pérez Biscayart are actors to watch and I will look for director Isaki Lacuesta’s future releases with interest.




WHAT: One year, one night, a film showing at Sydney Film Festival 2022


Fri 10 Jun 6pm Hayden Orpheum Cremorne – Cinema 5

Sat 11 Jun 8:30pm Ritz Randwick – Cinema 5

Wed 15 Jun 8:15pm Dendy Newtown – Cinema 3

HOW: Purchase your tickets to One year, one night via this link:



Sydney Film Festival 2022: French language films

SFF 2022: 12 multilingual films including French

SFF 2022: 14 films from multiple countries including France (that aren’t in French)

REVIEW: Bootlegger puts socio-political issues in a Canadian first nations reserve at the forefront



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SFF 2022: 14 films from multiple countries including France (that aren’t in French)

Reading Time: 9 minutes

Sydney Film Festival 2022 (SFF 2022) opened Wednesday night with a stunning line-up of films. In our previous articles, we’ve told you about films in French and films in multiple languages including French. In this article, it’s the films from multiple countries including France that aren’t in French.


Anatomy of Time (Wela)

COUNTRIES: Thailand, France, Singapore, Netherlands
DIRECTOR: Jakrawal Nilthamrong

In this intimate drama about life, death and love, director Nilthamrong draws from the memories of his parents. We meet Maem as an elderly woman caring for her dying husband. In flashbacks to the 1960s, Maem is a beautiful young woman from a provincial town who’s torn between her affection for a local boy and the seductive attentions of a swaggering military officer fighting communist insurgents. With Buddhist concepts of karma and impermanence to the fore, Nilthamrong has fashioned a touching human story that also serves as a powerful metaphor for the political and social upheavals that have affected life in Thailand for many decades.


Black Mambas

COUNTRIES: Germany, France
LANGUAGES: English and Tsonga
DIRECTOR: Lena Karbe

An astute study of South Africa’s first all-female anti-poaching unit and the sexism, danger and enduring colonial structures they confront. Winner, F:ACT Award, CPH:DOX.

The Black Mambas were formed in 2013, at the peak of the Kruger National Park’s rhino poaching crisis, to protect the park and conserve its wildlife. Women from neighbouring communities signed up, proud to wear the park uniform and take on a role traditionally held by men. Qolile, a hardworking mother badly needs the income. New recruit Naledi is enthusiastic about her new role. Nkateko is the most ambitious, but her plans are stymied by her white male supervisors. Germany-based documentarian Lena Karbe films the women at home and work, and as they walk the perimeter looking for signs of creatures and poachers. In doing so, she skilfully exposes the multifarious barriers the women face to achieve their dreams.


Burning Days

COUNTRIES: Turkey, France, Germany, Netherlands, Greece, Croatia
DIRECTOR: Emin Alper

A riveting political thriller that revolves around a prosecutor who moves to a small Turkish town and is embroiled in a political scandal.

Emre is a young and dedicated prosecutor who, when he arrives in the town, witnesses the frenzied, brutal killing of a wild boar, which is then dragged through the streets. Though disturbed by this sight, Emre’s distaste subsides with the otherwise warm welcome he receives. He’s offered tea in the streets and receives visits from sycophantic local dignitaries. But Emre finds the town in a water crisis: the extensive use of groundwater has resulted in sinkholes appearing. A journalist, Murat, provides Emre with some background involving faked geological reports, corruption, and the impending “water trial” that could have severe repercussions on the powerful people running the town. When Emre attends a small dinner at the mayor’s home – which soon turns into a bacchanal, and then something even more sinister – he finds himself severely compromised. Alper expertly ratchets up the tension in this simmering and suspenseful tale – one easily extrapolated from this small village to many places beyond it.


Costa Brava, Lebanon

COUNTRIES: Lebanon, France, Spain, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Qatar
DIRECTOR: Mounia Akl

Nadine Labaki and Saleh Bakri star in this story of a family that quits Beirut only to discover that escaping its chaos is not so easy. Award-winner at Toronto and London.

The Badri family decided years ago to abandon Beirut with its terrible pollution, garbage-filled streets and corruption. Souraya (Labaki, Capernaum) is a world-renowned singer, husband Walid (Bakri, Wajib) is an activist, and with their daughters and Walid’s mother, they now live in a beautiful retreat in the mountains. But their idyllic existence is shattered when men arrive to build a garbage landfill next door. Confronted by a world they thought they could leave behind, the family spirals into crisis. Made in the aftermath of the catastrophic Beirut explosion in 2020, Mounia Akl’s debut feature, which premiered at Venice and won awards in Toronto and London, is filled with both anger and charm.


Day After

COUNTRIES: Bangladesh, France, Norway
DIRECTOR: Kamar Ahmad Simon

A seductive journey on a century-old river steamer overflowing with passengers from all walks of life from Kamar Ahmad Simon, the first Bangladeshi filmmaker to be Featured Red Carpet Director in Piazza Grande, Locarno.

‘The Rocket’, an ironically named ancient double-decker paddle boat, regularly sails from the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka to the southern city of Khulna. As time and countryside drift by (the 250km journey takes two days), Simon’s camera roams the crowded decks, filming the manifold passengers, from vloggers to tourists, families to salesmen. We eavesdrop on lively conversations (some real, some staged) covering everything from politics to food, and flinch as ‘The Rocket’ navigates one nautical hazard after another. Every detail in this rich river tapestry – the second in director Simon’s planned ‘water trilogy’ – is a delight and well worth the journey.


Dreaming Walls: Inside the Chelsea Hotel

COUNTRIES: USA, Belgium, France, Netherlands, Sweden
DIRECTORS: Amélie van Elmbt, Maya Duverdier

 Belgian filmmakers Maya Duverdier and Amélie Van Elmbt examine the legacy of New York’s iconic Chelsea Hotel and meet its last remaining residents. Berlinale Panorama 2022.

Immortalised in song by Leonard Cohen and in cinema by Andy Warhol, the Chelsea Hotel served as a magnet for artists, writers and musicians for over 100 years. Dylan Thomas, Janis Joplin, Madonna and Sid Vicious are among those who stayed in Manhattan’s famously bohemian hub. But those days are long over. The Chelsea is now in its ninth year of renovations, leaving only a handful of residents who refused to take the money and leave. Amid the clatter of construction, we meet the fascinating people who still call these walls home and are fighting to preserve at least some of its rich history. Ghosts from the Chelsea’s past are lovingly woven into this elegiac portrait of its precarious present and uncertain future.



COUNTRIES: Paraguay, Argentina, USA, France, Netherlands, Germany, Mexico
LANGUAGES: Ayoreo and Guarani
DIRECTOR: Paz Encina 

Winner of the Tiger Award, Rotterdam 2022, EAMI is an exquisitely shot lament for an Indigenous forest community under threat.

Our narrator, Eami, shapeshifts through time – from young girl to bird-god to jaguar – as she recounts the invasion of her Ayoreo-Totobiegosode homelands by illegal loggers. Director Paz Encina, who trained as a musician, offers an immersive encounter with the sights and soundscapes of the Paraguayan Chaco as it is transforms from vital ecosystem to wasteland. Birds sing, tires crunch, dogs howl, fire roars. As well as the name of our protagonist, ‘Eami’ is the term for both ‘forest’ and ‘world’. In other words, deforestation threatens the annihilation of the Ayoreo cosmos. “Remember everything,” says the old man who accompanies Eami on her journey. “Once we leave, we can never come back.”


Fashion Babylon

DIRECTOR: Gianluca Matarrese 

Three fashion insiders – Michelle Elie, Casey Spooner and Violet Chachki – share their accessory-strewn lives in this vibrant front-row-seat documentary.

Drag artist and Season 7 winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race, Violet is always on the go, so rushed she ends up squeezing into couture outfits in the back of a taxi. OTT fashionista Michelle, a former model who now calls the streets her catwalk, struggles to fit a week’s worth of attire into her car. Musician and artist Casey spends every dollar on clothes and now he’s behind on the rent. This fabulous threesome is Italian director Gianluca Matarrese’s guide to the fashion world’s inner sanctum. A highly competitive domain – not exactly cut-throat but certainly fickle – it’s all down to who-you-know and how-you-look and that makes Fashion Babylon a colourful and highly entertaining watch.



COUNTRIES: Denmark, Iceland, France, Sweden
LANGUAGES: Danish and Icelandic
DIRECTOR: Hlynur Pálmason

Direct from Cannes Un Certain Regard, award-winning Icelandic filmmaker Hlynur Pálmason’s new film is a stunning historical drama inspired by true events.

In the much-anticipated follow-up to his acclaimed hit A White, White Day, Godland tells the story of Lucas, a young Danish priest (Elliott Crosset Hove, Winter Brothers) who travels to a remote and largely unexplored part of Iceland in the late 19th century to build a church and photograph its landscape and people. On his journey across the breathtaking but dangerous landscape, the idealistic but naive young clergyman is aided by a translator as well as an Icelandic guide (Ingvar Eggert Sigurðsson, A White, White Day; Trapped) with whom he cannot communicate. The deeper Lucas goes into the unforgiving terrain, the more he strays from his purpose, the mission, and his morality; with unexpected and shocking repercussions. Evocative cinematography by Pálmason’s regular collaborator Maria von Hausswolff captures Lucas’ perilous journey in haunting detail and artistry, mirroring his characters’ obsession to document a strange new world. Godland draws us into a fascinating character study, which explores the colliding of worlds, ideas and language with enthralling impact.




COUNTRIES: Austria, France, Germany
LANGUAGES: German, English and Italian
DIRECTOR: Ulrich Seidl

 Michael Thomas is dynamite as washed-up pop star Richie Bravo in a darkly comic drama from Ulrich Seidl (In the Basement, SFF 2015). In competition, Berlinale 2022.

Richie Bravo can just squeeze into the garish outfits he’s been wearing since the ’80s. During the Italian city of Rimini’s rainy off-season, Richie sings schmaltzy German schlager to tourists taking cut-price holidays in tatty hotels. To make ends meet he also has paid sex with ageing female fans. He’s not exactly the picture of a high-class escort, but there’s something weirdly endearing about this guy who never stops performing. Everything changes when Richie’s confronted by Tessa, the adult daughter he hasn’t seen in 12 years. Tessa doesn’t want reconciliation. She wants lots of money to make up for everything she’s missed out on. Federico Fellini’s birthplace is the perfect setting for Seidl’s bittersweet tale of faded glory and family ties.


Small Body

COUNTRIES: Italy, France, Slovenia
DIRECTOR: Laura Samani

A woman tries to free the soul of her stillborn child in Laura Samani’s hypnotic debut. This aching fable explores motherhood, mysticism and grief. Cannes 2021.

After birthing a stillborn child, the grieving Agata is tortured by her Catholic faith – specifically the belief that her baby’s soul lies in eternal Limbo. Hope comes in the form of a mystical sanctuary in the middle of the mountains which can allow her baby to live for just one breath – just long enough to be blessed. Against the wishes of her husband and community, Agata embarks on an Orphean journey across north-east Italy, along rivers and into forests brimming with ancient power. Echoing the folkloric aura of Alice Rohrwacher’s Happy as Lazzaro, Samani’s odyssey is stunning and strange in equal measure.



COUNTRIES: Bolivia, France, Uruguay
LANGUAGES: Spanish and Quechua
DIRECTOR: Alejandro Loayza Grisi

Utama is an astonishing love story about an elderly Indigenous Quechea couple in the Bolivian highlands fighting to preserve their way of life.

Llama farmers Virginio (José Calcina) and Sisa (Luisa Quispe) have followed the same routine for years. But an extended period of drought poses an existential threat. The arrival of their grandson, Clever (Santos Choque), brings tension and throws their dilemma into sharp relief. Do Virginio and Sisa stay on and fight for survival and the preservation of their culture, or join the rest of their family in the city thereby giving up on their way of life forever?


The immense power of Utama lies not only in its visual beauty, but in the tremendous performances by non-professional actors, and couple in real life, Calcina and Quispe. Director Loayza Grisi, while scouting for the film, came upon the two and approached them to appear in the film and was instantly rejected. But he persevered, and to great effect: their intimacy and evidence of a life-long shared is palpable. A beautifully shot film, to be savoured on the big screen, Utama is an exquisite love story in a time of tumult.


Where is Anne Frank?

COUNTRIES: France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Israel
DIRECTOR: Ari Folman

The new animated feature from Ari Folman (Waltz with Bashir) is a visionary retelling of the Anne Frank story that connects her legacy to oppression in the modern world.

One night in a near-future Amsterdam, in the Anne Frank House – once a secret hideout, now a museum – Anne’s world-famous diary opens of its own accord and her imaginary friend Kitty (Ruby Stokes) magically enters the world as a real person. Taking the diary with her – and dodging police as they hunt the thief – Kitty explores the 21st century while reminiscing on the life of her creator (voiced by Emily Carey) via deeply moving flashbacks. Befriending a group of asylum seekers in hiding, Kitty is saddened to find that war, injustice and prejudice are still very much with us. Combining young-adult adventure, fantasy and social commentary, this timely tale is enlivened by wonderfully vivid and dreamlike animation.



COUNTRIES: Indonesia, Singapore, France, Australia
LANGUAGE: Indonesian
DIRECTOR: Kamila Andini

A teenage girl’s ambitions in an austere Indonesian community poetically explored by Kamila Andini (The Seen and Unseen, SFF 2018). Winner of Toronto’s Platform Award.

Yuni (Arawinda Kirana) is the smartest in her school and aspires to go to university. But her high school is becoming increasingly puritanical, insisting on mandatory virginity tests for girls and a ban on music. Yuni’s hopes are further dampened by two marriage proposals from older men she barely knows. Her grandmother urges her to accept this “blessing”, for it is said that a woman who rejects three suitors is destined to never marry. In the face of this societal pressure, Yuni must also negotiate her crush on a teacher and the affections of shy schoolmate Yoga, a budding poet. A sensitive portrait of a vibrant, unforgettable character from rising-star Andini, a distinctive and essential voice in international cinema.

Which films are you planning to see at SFF 2022?



WHAT: Sydney Film Festival 2022 (SFF 2022)

WHERE: various cinemas across Sydney

WHEN: 8 – 19 June

HOW: View the full SFF 2022 program at the official website:

HOW MUCH: Individual tickets $17, special event prices differ. Flexipasses are also available to see 10, 20 or 30 films at a reduced price:



REVIEW: Bootlegger puts socio-political issues in a Canadian first nations reserve at the forefront

SFF 2022: 12 multilingual films including French

Sydney Film Festival 2022: French language films



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