French films to see at JIFF 2021

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The Jewish International Film Festival (JIFF) starts in Melbourne,  Perth and Brisbane today and in Sydney and Canberra tomorrow. There are a number of French films in the program as well as films in which French is one of the languages spoken and films with French links.

JIFF 2021

JIFF 2021 Films from France in French


The Irrepressible Woman (Je ne rêve que de vous)

FRANCE — 2019, 103 MIN

DIRECTOR — Laurent Heynemann

LANGUAGE — French (English subtitles)


“A romantic fresco that brings together history and fiction.” — Ciné Dweller

France, 1940. Defying logic, Janot Reichenbach, a wealthy Jewish woman, decides to not flee the German-occupied country with her husband and son. Instead, she joins socialist politician and three-time Prime Minister Léon Blum, with whom she fell madly in love when she was only sixteen but kept apart from all these years, in the free zone. Determined to stay with Blum at all costs and willing to sacrifice all she has for love, she follows him as he is moved from France to Buchenwald, where they are both imprisoned.

Based on a remarkable true story.


The End of Love (A coeur battant)

FRANCE — 2019, 90 MIN

DIRECTOR — Keren Ben Rafael

LANGUAGE — French (English subtitles)


“Conceptual and audacious.” — Cineuropa

Having fallen in love with Julie, Yuval moves from his native Israel to Paris to be with her, and the two get married. When his visa expires, he finds himself back in Israel, communicating with his wife and baby via Skype. But instead of bringing them together while Yuval is away, this new form of interaction only reveals the doubts each of them harbours about the future of their relationship. Israeli-French director Keren Ben Rafael (Virgins) returns with a sensitive and compelling drama about relationships, immigration and the impact technology has on our lives.


Israel, the Land of TV Series

FRANCE — 2019, 70 MIN

DIRECTOR — Olivier Joyard

LANGUAGE — French, Hebrew, English (English subtitles)


Hatufim, Fauda, False Flag, Shtisel… the list of hit Israeli TV shows is seemingly endless. How can we explain the success of Israel consistently producing blockbuster TV series that resonate the world over? Offering a behind-the-scenes look at the industry producing some of our favourite shows, this new documentary considers the storytelling legacy of Israeli society, and contemplates the everyday conflicts that inform the writing of some of our favourite dramas.


JIFF 2021 Films in French and other languages (not from France)


The last Picture Show in Bucharest

ISRAEL — 2019, 75 MIN

DIRECTOR — Ludi Boeken

LANGUAGE — Hebrew, Romanian, French

(English subtitles)


Bucharest Pogrom, 1941. During the last picture show that 10-year-old Eliahu sees, his father, the cinema owner, is murdered by the leader of the fascist militia, his next door neighbour. After surviving the massacre of Romania’s Jews, Eliahu seeks justice but post-war Romania does not, nor does the Israel he emigrates to. During his military service in Israel he learns that his father’s killer now fights in the French Foreign Legion in Vietnam. Eliahu deserts and embarks on a quest for truth, justice and revenge.


Persian Lessons (Persischstunden)


DIRECTOR — Vadim Perelman

LANGUAGES — German, French, Persian, English, Italian (English subtitles)


“A big, widescreen cinematic ride which deftly mixes suspense, laughter and tears.”

— Screendaily

1942. Gilles, a young Belgian man, is arrested by the SS alongside other Jews and sent to a concentration camp in Germany. He narrowly avoids execution by swearing to the guards that he is not Jewish, but Persian. This lie temporarily saves him, but then Gilles is assigned a seemingly untenable mission: to teach Farsi to Koch, the officer in charge of the camp’s kitchen, who dreams of opening a restaurant in Iran once the war is over. Gilles finds himself having to invent a language he doesn’t know, word by word. As the unusual relationship between the two men begins to incite suspicion, Gilles becomes acutely aware that one false move could expose his swindle.



JIFF 2021 Films with French links



ISRAEL, RUSSIA — 2020, 117 MIN

DIRECTOR — Pavel Lungin (Russian-French director)

LANGUAGE — English, Russian (English subtitles)


Harvey Keitel, Lior Ashkenazi and Shira Haas headline Esau, the first English-language film from acclaimed Russian-French director Pavel Lungin. Adapted from the novel of the same name by Israeli author Meir Shalev, Esau follows a 40-year-old writer who returns to his family home after half a lifetime to face the brother who stole both his love and livelihood, and offers a modern twist on the biblical story of Jacob and Esau in the book of Genesis.


Waiting for Anja

UK — 2020, 109 MIN

DIRECTOR — Ben Cookson

LANGUAGE — English


The year is 1943 and although Europe may be ravaged by the horrors of World War II, Jo’s (Noah Schnapp) life in the picturesque French Pyrenees has remained remarkably untouched.

That is, until Jo stumbles upon a dangerous secret: Jewish children are being smuggled out of Nazi-occupied France to the safety of Spain by the village outcast, widow Horcada (Anjelica Huston) and her son-in-law, Benjamin. When German troops move into town, Jo finds himself caught in a perilous conspiracy and enlists the help of his grand-père (Jean Reno), a veteran of The Great War. Responsible for the escape of a group of Jewish children, his own life on the line, Jo must grow up fast if they are going to survive. Set against the stunning backdrop of the French Pyrenees and perils of foreign occupation, this tale of a young boy’s triumph against the odds will set your heart racing and reignite your faith in the human spirit.


When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit



DIRECTOR — Caroline Link

LANGUAGE — German (English subtitles)


It’s 1933, and nine-year-old Anna’s carefree childhood is disrupted when her parents decide to flee Germany. In their search for safety and livelihood, the close-knit family moves first to Switzerland, then Paris and finally, London – each move presents great challenges, but even greater rewards. Though she still harbours hopes of returning to Berlin, Anna gradually learns that home is wherever she is free to love, imagine and dream.

Directed by Oscar-winning filmmaker Caroline Link and based on the beloved best-selling novel by Judith Kerr, When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit offers a moving perspective on the experience of German Jews who fled the country before the war, while superbly capturing the magic of childhood.


JIFF 2021 Melbourne special event


When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit


Thursday 18 February 2021 6:15pm

Judith Kerr wrote about her own experiences fleeing Nazism in When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit, while much of Mirka Mora’s renowned artwork brings to life the tragedy she witnessed as a young woman in WWII France. Presented in association with the new exhibition MIRKA at the Jewish Museum of Australia, join us for a post-screening discussion about creative output after trauma, and the positive impact and catharsis offered by the sharing of art.



JIFF 2021 will screen in the following cities on the following dates:


Melbourne 17 February– 16 March

Sydney 18 February – 24 March

Brisbane 18 – 28 February

Canberra 17 – 28 February

Perth 18 February – 3 March


The full program and tickets are available at the JIFF 2021 website:



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Don’t forget the Alliance Francaise French Film Festival is also starting soon. Find out about the AFFFF 2021 in our article here


JIFF 2021


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