Country Cabaret continues the trend of films based on true stories at this year’s Alliance Française French Film Festival (AFFFF). Silver Rockers, Notre Dame on fire, and Sugar and Stars are a few others. It is also in a similar vein to other French films about people trying to save their businesses in unconventional ways, which have been shown at the AFFFF in previous years, such as Roxane and Normandy Nude.
David (Alban Ivanov, The Extraordinary, AF FFF 2022) is down on his luck, about to lose the family farm, and drowns his sorrows at the local pub. He then stumbles into a cabaret bar, is mesmerised by the aerialist Bonnie (Sabrina Ouazani, On the Other Side of the Tracks, AF FFF 2014) performing, and is struck with an idea of how to save the farm: mount the first farm cabaret in France. What ensues is an amusing quest to find talent and to set up this ambitious project. And that’s not even the hard part! Convincing his family, especially grandpa (played by Guy Marchand), that this isn’t another hare-brained scheme is no easy task.
Country Cabaret is classic French comedy with a great story and a fantastic cast. Country Cabaret is the latest film from director Jean-Pierre Améris, who also directed Romantics Anonymous, which was a hit at AFFFF many years ago. He explained that he wanted a varied cast for his film: “I wanted a composite cast – people with different backgrounds, different bodies, actors from different walks of life.” That’s much like the troupe they put together for the country cabaret.
Sabrina Ouazani is convincing in her role as the city dancer who doesn’t want to have anything to do with country life, yet together with David sets up the cabaret. Alban Ivanov was also authentic in his role of the farmer. He explained that to prepare for the role, he spent a lot of time with the owners of the farm on which they filmed, saying: “When I play a character, I don’t try to imitate: in “Country Cabaret”, I didn’t try to become a farmer, I was one.”
Michèle Bernier plays Mireille, David’s sceptical but tolerant Mum who ends up housing and feeding the cabaret troupe. You may know her from the French series The Intern (La Stagiare). Mousa Maaskri plays Houari, the family’s long-serving employee. Bérengère Krief plays Laetitia, David’s ex, and the town’s hairdresser who despite being his ex is omnipresent at the farm.
Gabor, the hypnotist (Alain Rimoux, who you may recognise as Samuel Kerr from the very first episode of Call My Agent) was an intriguing character as you wondered whether he could really do what he claimed to. Ariana Rivoire plays a magician who is deaf, which is second time the director has cast her in the role of a person who is deaf (his film Marie Heurtin). We felt a little bad laughing at the situations caused by her deafness, particularly in today’s period of political correctness.
Overall, Country Cabaret is a very enjoyable, heart-warming film following this unlikely troupe mounting a cabaret in the most unlikely of places. There are lots of laughs and it’s a film well worth seeing at this year’s AFFFF.
Matilda Marseillaise viewed this film via a screener.
To find out when Country Cabaret is screening in your city, click on this link: https://www.affrenchfilmfestival.org/film/country-cabaret/
KEY INFO FOR AFFFF 2023
WHAT: Alliance Française French Film Festival 2023 (AFFFF 2023) – the 34th edition of the largest celebration of French film outside of France!
WHERE & WHEN:
Sydney, NSW: 7th March to 5th April – Palace Central, Palace Verona, Palace Norton St, Chauvel Cinema, Hayden Orpheum Cremorne
Melbourne, VIC: 8th March to 5th April – Palace Cinema Como, Palace Balwyn, Palace Brighton Bay, Palace Westgarth, The Astor Theatre, The Kino, Pentridge Cinema
Perth, WA: 8th March to 5th April – Luna Leederville, Luna on SX, Windsor Cinema, Palace Raine Square, Camelot Outdoor Cinema
Canberra, ACT: 9th March to 5th April – Palace Electric Cinema
Hobart, TAS: 9th to 19th March – State Cinema
Brisbane, QLD: 15th March to 12th April – Palace James Street, Palace Barracks
Byron Bay, NSW: 16th March to 5th April – Palace Byron Bay
Adelaide, SA: 23rd March to 19th April – Palace Nova Eastend Cinemas, Palace Nova Prospect Cinemas
Port Pirie, Renmark, Whyalla, Mount Gambier: 24th March to 26th March – Northern Festival, Chaffey Theatre, Middleback Arts Centre, Sir Robert Helpmann Theatre
Gold Coast, QLD: 29th March to 16th April – Dendy Southport
Parramatta, NSW: 29th March to 2nd April – Riverside Theatre Parramatta
Victor Harbour, SA: 3rd and 10th April – Victa Cinema
Bendigo, VIC: 21st to 23rd April – Star Cinema
HOW: The full program of 41 films can be viewed at the official Alliance Française French Film Festival 2023 website via this link: https://www.affrenchfilmfestival.org/
HOW MUCH: Ticket prices vary between cities and there are also discounted festival passes available if you want to see several films. (NB You will need to pick the films and sessions when purchasing the pass)
See below for more AFFFF content
Our picks from the Alliance Française French Film Festival 2023 program
Alliance Française French Film Festival 2023 first 15 films announced
Sugar and Stars: an inspiring tale about the road to sweet success
Silver Rockers: a film inspired by the story of rocker retirees from Normandy
Final Cut: a comedic zombie film that’s even for people who don’t like horror or gore
Which films won at the César 2023 and where you can watch them