Melbourne, while you can’t enjoy the 2020 Alliance Française French Film Festival in cinemas at the same time as the rest of the capital cities, you can stream and buy some of the AFFFF 2020 films on DVD. Find out which AFFFF 2020 films are streaming or available on DVD.
This was the original opening night AFFFF 2020 film in March. It was also the Closing Night feature at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival.
Filmmakers Olivier Nakache and Éric Toledano (The Intouchables) return with their heartfelt portrayal of those living with disabilities.
The Extraordinary is based on the real-life figure of Stéphane Benhamou, who runs an informal shelter in Paris for autistic youth who have fallen through the cracks of a system unable to care for them. As their dedicated carer, Bruno, Vincent Cassel again demonstrates his talent in an extraordinary, no-limits performance. Struggling for both staff and money, Bruno is the heart and soul of his uncertified shelter, which comes under threat when authorities start investigating it.
The Bare Necessity
Another of the AFFFF 2020 films is writer/director Erwan Le Duc’s debut feature The Bare Necessity, which is a whimsical tale of love striking unexpectedly. It showcases the quirks of a family forced to re-assess all they’ve taken for granted with the arrival of an enigmatic stranger, a woman called Juliette (Maud Wyler, AF FFF14, 2 Autumns, 3 Winters) whose orange BMW is stolen.
The town’s police captain, Pierre (Swann Arlaud) has little intention of finding the vehicle but is intrigued by Juliette and joins her on her mission to find it. A mission that will see them encounter everyone from earthworm experts to nudist revolutionaries to World War II re-enactments celebrating the region’s heritage.
Streaming on Kanopy: https://www.kanopy.com/product/bare-necessity (FREE – Just need a library membership, which you can also sign-up for online)
La Belle Époque
In the rebooted festival this was the opening night AFFFF 2020 film.
César Award-winning filmmaker Nicolas Bedos’ La Belle Époque, is a reimagining of the film-within-a-film concept. In it, we have Victor (Daniel Auteuil, AF FFF19, Rémi, Nobody’s Boy), a 70-something tech-phobic cartoonist, is struggling both professionally and personally. His work is evaporating with the growing dominance of the Internet, and his wife, Marianne (Fanny Ardant, AF FFF16, Chic!), loathes him.
But then Victor meets Antoine (Guillaume Canet, AF FFF19, Sink or Swim; and also starring in In the Name of the Land and directing We’ll End Up Together at this year’s Festival) whose company offers a unique theatrical service where customers are able to revisit memories and play out fantasies through carefully orchestrated re-enactments. Victor decides to relive the most memorable week of his existence, 40 years earlier, when he met the love of his life.
DVD: https://www.dvdland.com.au/products/La-Belle-Epoque.html (PREORDER)
Themes of social inequality erupt in Ladj Ly’s fearless Les Misérables, prompting comparisons to other classic hard-hitting dramas such as Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing and Mathieu Kassovitz’s Hate (La Haine).
The film may share its name with Victor Hugo’s classic 19th century novel but there’s not an all-singing, all-dancing Hugh Jackman in sight.
Ly turns to a momentous public uprising for his inspiration: the 2005 riots, which began in Clichy-sous-Bois and spread throughout Paris before reaching Marseille, Toulouse, Strasbourg, Lyon and Lille. Set in Montfermeil East of Paris – a famed location in Victor Hugo’s novel – Les Misérables follows cop Stéphane (Damien Bonnard, AF FFF19 Opening Night film, The Trouble with You) through his first week on the job as part of a special unit who navigate society’s fringes.
It’s a trial by fire as he and his corrupt, often violent, colleagues, Chris (Alexis Manenti) and Gwada (Djebril Didier Zonga), face off against the region’s clashing factions of angry teens as tensions boil over. Ready yourself for a riveting ride that throbs with contemporary urgency.
La Vie Scolaire/School Life is the second feature from Grand Corps Malade and Mehdi Idir. It portrays the rough-and-tumble life at an urban middle school in Saint-Denis. Seen through the eyes of a young vice principal from South-Eastern France, the directors again deploy comedic relief to drive home important issues facing the education system, echoing aspects of their 2016 blockbuster debut Step by Step.
Despite being thrown in the deep-end when transferred to her new job in Paris’ northern suburbs, Senior Education Adviser Samia (Zita Hanrot) enthusiastically supports her students in the hope of showing them a brighter future. But, in the borough of Seine-Saint-Denis – an area marked by extreme poverty and high immigration – hope is a rare commodity.
Sibyl is an absorbing story of someone who steps over an uncrossable line.
Unsatisfied with her life, Sibyl (Virginie Efira, AF FFF19, Sink or Swim; AF FFF14, It Boy; and the same director, Triet’s earlier film AF FFF17, In Bed with Victoria) is transitioning from her career as a psychiatrist to her dream of becoming a writer. Throwing professional ethics into the wind, her dubious cure for writer’s block is to secretly use the experiences of her patient, Margot, played by Adèle Exarchopoulos (AF FFF16, The Anarchists), as inspiration, creating a bond that has irreversible effects on both of their lives.
A Brother’s Love
A Brother’s Love is the feature film debut for Québécois actress-turned-director Monia Chokri (you may know her for her role in Heartbeats and Laurence Anyways (AF FFF13) with Xavier Dolan.
The film won her the Un Certain Regard award from the Coup de Coeur du Jury at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival.
The film stars Anne-Élisabeth Bossé as Sophia, a disgruntled academic struggling with unstable work conditions. The ‘rock’ in her life is her beloved big brother, Karim (Patrick Hivon), who
she turns to for support after being rejected for yet another job. Enter charismatic Eloïse (Évelyne Brochu, AF FFF12, Café de Flore) who Karim meets unexpectedly through Sophia, and falls madly in love with. This leaves Sophia feeling more disoriented than ever, and under the impression that her life is spiralling out of control.
SBS on Demand: https://www.sbs.com.au/ondemand/video/1712949827968
Cult darling Quentin Dupieux dresses to kill with his latest offbeat offering, Deerskin. A highlight at Toronto International Film Festival and Cannes (where it featured in the respected
Directors’ Fortnight selection), Deerskin introduces a tasselled jacket as Dupieux’ latest inanimate object of affection – one with as much character as the film’s troubled protagonist.
With his life in disarray, Georges (Jean Dujardin, AF FFF19, I Feel Good; AF FFF18, The Return of the Hero) might not be able to control his circumstances but he can control his wardrobe. Believing the deerskin jacket of his dreams is the answer to all his problems, Georges’ delusions gradually begin to take hold the more he wears it.
With his descent into madness innocently supported by trusting bartender Denise (Adèle Haenel, AF FFF19, The Trouble with You; AF FFF17, The Unknown Girl), each additional piece of deerskin clothing Georges adds to his wardrobe moves his obsession closer and closer towards a violent delirium.
The rural community where Georges takes refuge quickly fall victim to his serial-killer instinct as he inventively finds new ways to target those who have inadvertently wronged him.
This surreal drama, laced with moments of comedy and sharp dialogue, is a wild ride to the darkside, where clothes maketh the man in ways never before imagined.
NOTE: This is another of the AFFFF 2020 films that is getting its own cinematic release in certain cinemas after the AFFFF 2020 has finished.
The Mystery of Henri Pick
The perfect film for lovers of literature and intrigue alike, writer/ director Rémi Bezançon (AF FFF12, A Happy Event) presents a riddle wrapped in an enigma, packed into a cheese-stained pizza box, that begs the questions: Who is Henri Pick, and how did this supposedly illiterate pizza cook write an acclaimed bestseller? Based on David Foenkinos’s 2016 book of the same name, The Mystery of Henri Pick revolves around the film’s enigmatic title character who, two years after his death, has his name sprawled across the covers of a celebrated novel, The Last Hours of a Love Story.
However, not everyone is convinced of the author’s authenticity of this overnight sensation. Amongst the cynics is influential literary critic Jean-Michel Rouche (Fabrice Luchini, also in Alice and the Mayor, screening in AF FFF20) who sets out to discover the truth behind Pick and the book that bears his name. Camille Cottin co-stars as Joséphine Pick, daughter of the mysterious author, who reluctantly assists Rouche in navigating the secretive Breton landscape.
The Wolf’s Call
Farewell to the Night
Aznavour by Charles
STREAM (FREE): https://www.kanopy.com/product/cyrano-my-love
House of Cardin
This film is currently showing in cinemas around Australia, with an independent cinematic release from the AFFFF 2020 films showing at the festival.
Strike a pose on the catwalk with P. David Ebersole and Todd Hughes’ captivating cinematic illustration of one of the world’s greatest fashion designers, Pierre Cardin. While his name is synonymous with glamour, refinement and sophistication, House of Cardin provides a rare peek behind the dressing room curtain into the world of the man himself.
Combining business savvy with a creative vision like few others, House of Cardin is a celebration of a true French fashion icon. Featuring a cast of equally celebrated names – from Alice
Cooper to Jean-Paul Gaultier, Sharon Stone to Naomi Campbell – this serves as an affectionate memoir to fashion and a French national treasure.
Proxima is a compassionate drama about a career driven woman forced to choose between her work and her child that is part of the program of AFFFF 2020 films.
As the only woman in the European Space Agency astronaut training program in Cologne, single mother Sarah (Eva Green) struggles with feelings of guilt over the limited time spent with her young daughter, Stella (Zélie Boulant-Lemesle).
When Sarah is invited upon a year-long space mission ‘Proxima’, tensions escalate and her insecurities about motherhood rise dramatically to the surface. By highlighting the minutiae of Sarah’s training, Winocour shines a light on the risks surrounding such a lengthy, dangerous journey and the powerful implications these have on the already fragile mother/daughter psyche.
Few filmmakers have captured the romance of fairy tales quite like legendary French
New Wave filmmaker Jacques Demy. Following The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964) and
The Young Girls of Rochefort (1967), Donkey Skin was the third collaboration between
Demy and screen icon, Catherine Deneuve.
The newly restored 2K version of Donkey Skin was to be screened among the AFFFF 2020 films. It marks the classic film’s 50th anniversary, and sees Deneuve playing the dual roles of a dying queen and her daughter, the princess.
A king (Jean Marais) promises his queen that he will only re-marry if he can find
someone more beautiful than her. He narrows his list down to the princess, his daughter. Disturbed by the thought of an incestuous marriage, the princess escapes to a nearby
kingdom where even her fairy godmother (Delphine Seyrig, AF FFF19, Last Year at
Marienbad) is unable to help her. Under a new identity, the princess adopts the humble
life of a pauper. But, when she crosses paths with a handsome prince (Jacques Perrin, AF
FFF18, Remi, Nobody’s Boy; AF FFF11, Empire of Mid-South), will the impossible happen
and true love conquer all?
Spread Your Wings
Classic father-and-son tensions get a thrilling, new lease of life thanks to the family adventure Spread Your Wings from director Nicolas Vanier (AF FFF18, The School of Life; AF FFF14, Belle and Sebastian), which is part of the AFFFF 2020 films.
Inspired by a true story, Spread Your Wings follows video game addicted teenager Thomas (Louis Vazquez) who is sent by his mother, Paola (Mélanie Doutey, AF FFF15, The Connection), to spend the school holidays with his father in the beautiful, yet secluded, wetlands of the Camargue region in Southern France.
With no Wi-Fi and only his ornithologist father, Christian (JeanPaul Rouve, AF FFF19, Kiss & Tell; AF FFF18, C’est la vie!), for company, Thomas is slowly drawn into his father’s passion for
a gaggle of newborn, wild geese. Together, father and son train the birds for their first migratory flight, hoping to free them from captivity. By doing so, they also start to rebuild their own
Revolving around this familial dynamic, Spread Your Wings gently echoes the broader international rise of young activists debating the future of a planet they are about to inherit. It is
a beautiful film; a timely family adventure about how even the smallest gestures can have a huge impact.
Based on the blockbuster comic book series by Serge Bloch – with more than a million
copies sold worldwide in over 10 languages – comes the animated feature debut of the
world’s favourite, tiny red superhero; SamSam. It follows almost 100 short episodes of SamSam that have been televised around the globe!
SamSam appears to have it all: his own flying saucer and great family and friends. But
the one thing he has yet to attain are actual superpowers. When Mega – the new kid
at school – tells SamSam she has the solution to all his problems, he sees a short-cut to
making his parents proud of him. Embarking on his greatest quest ever with Mega by
his side, he discovers that superpowers come in all shapes and sizes, including learning
the true value of friendship.
SamSam is a magical, outer-space journey brought to life in glorious, vibrant animation, SamSam wins the hearts of audiences young and old in a thrilling sci-fi adventure like no other.
What’s your all-time favourite French film? Which AFFFF 2020 films were you most wanting to see?