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

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Sydney Film Festival starts tomorrow so in this article we’re telling you about films with French links that are not in French at SFF 2021.

Among films in this article, you’ll find films with French links:

  • 2 films in English from French directors;
  • 3 films from French-Canadian directors that aren’t in French at SFF 2021;
  • 9 films from several countries including France that are not in French;
  • 1 film with French links that isn’t in French or from France; and
  • BONUS: a retrospective of films from an Iranian director who lived and died in France.


If you’re interested to know about films in French at SFF 2021, read here. If you’re interested to see multilingual films which are also in French, click here.


Stay tuned for some reviews of SFF 2021 French films later this week.



2 films that are not in French but have French links at SFF are from French directors, one from Jonas Poher Rasmussen, a Danish/French film director and the other from French directors Diane Sara Bouzgarrou, Thomas Jenkoe.



Denmark, France, Sweden, Norway
90 mins
In Danish, Dari, English, Russian and Swedish with English subtitles
Director: Jonas Poher Rasmussen

This documentary tells the story of a gay Afghan refugee in Denmark who has kept his painful past a secret for the last two decades. Danish/French film director first met Amin Nawabi (a pseudonym)  in high school in Denmark. As an adult, Amin is an academic planning a life with his soon to be husband but his secrets haunt him. He realises he must confront the past to move forward but fears jeopardising his present day life in doing so.


This French/Danish director cleverly uses animation to plunge into Amin’s story from childhood in Kabul to present-day. Flee won the Sundance World Cinema Grand Jury Prize.


The Last Hillbilly

France, Qatar
80 minutes
All Ages
DIRECTORS: Diane Sara Bouzgarrou, Thomas Jenkoe

The Last Hillbilly is another English language documentary from French directors, this time Diane Sara Bouzgarrou, Thomas Jenkoe. It won Torino Film Festival’s main documentary prize.


Brian Ritchie calls himself ‘the last hillbilly’ and is keen to challenge the stereotype of the hillbilly being poor, uneducated, racist Trump supporters, even though he says “it’s all true.”


Evocative images reminiscent of American photographers like William Eggleston, and striking sequences (shot in 1:33 ratio) such as a night-time bonfire are accompanied by Ritchie’s contemplative voice-over and Jay Gambit’s inventive score.




Felix and the Hidden Treasure (Félix et le trésor de Morgäa)
Director: Nicola Lemay
85 mins
In English

Felix and the Hidden Treasure is French Canadian director, Nicola Lemay’s feature debut.

This animated feature follows a fantastic quest to find a missing father and priceless treasure.


Twelve-year-old Felix sets out to find his father by travelling from the shores of his Canadian village to the mysterious Darkshadow Island. Accompanying Felix is Tom, a retired sea captain, Squawk, a one-legged parrot, and Rover, a scene-stealing cat who thinks he’s a dog. It takes all their wit and courage to find Felix’s father and save the world from the island’s evil ruler Morgäa.


The film is filled with plenty of surprises: magic, secret passageways, hidden treasure and more. Recommended for ages eight and above.



Director: Denis Villenueve
Directed by Denis Villeneuve
156 minutes

French-Canadian director Denis Villeneuve (Incendies, Arrival, Blade Runner 2049) adapts Frank Herbert’s novel with a stellar cast including Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin, Stellan Skårsgard, Charlotte Rampling, Jason Momoa, Javier Bardem, and Zendaya.


Enter the immersive and enthralling world and story of Paul Atreides (Chalamet), a brilliant and gifted young man born into a great destiny beyond his understanding. He must travel to the most dangerous planet in the universe to ensure the future of his family and his people.


As malevolent forces explode into conflict over the planet’s exclusive supply of the most precious resource in existence – a commodity capable of unlocking humanity’s greatest potential – only those who can conquer their fear will survive.


With extraordinary action sequences, real emotional resonance and a remarkable cast including Villeneuve has created an immersive and enthralling world.


Night Raiders

Directed by Danis Goulet
Canada, New Zealand
101 minutes
Unclassified 15+
LANGUAGES: In English, Maori and Cree with English subtitles

A thrilling sci-fi tale of Indigenous resistance directed by Cree/Métis filmmaker Danis Goulet and executive produced by Taika Waititi (What We Do in the Shadows, SFF 2014). It was selected for Berlinale 2021.


Night Raiders is set in the not-too-distant future, where all children have become property of the state. These children are forced to fight in wars for ever-draining resources. To avoid this fate, Niska (Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers, The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open, SFF 2019) and daughter Waseese (Brooklyn Letexier-Hart) live off the grid. But when mother and daughter are forced to seek medical help, tough decisions must be made.


The fight for future generations, Indigenous sovereignty and solidarity beats at the heart of Goulet’s dystopian feature debut. In this joint Canada-New Zealand production, Goulet skillfully reminds us that First Nations peoples around the world were all too familiar with the trappings of dystopia long before the genre became popular.





Directed by Dea Kulumbegashvili
Georgia, France
125 minutes
Unclassified 18+
LANGUAGE: Georgian with English subtitles

Beginning is an intense, provocative work about a Jehovah’s Witness who undergoes a dramatic crisis of faith while her husband is away and her small town is under attack from an extremist group.


Told with sparse dialogue and exquisite camerawork that recalls the films of Michael Haneke, Carlos Reygadas and Chantal Akerman, Beginning examines religious conflict, intolerance and trauma, scrutinising the interior life of a woman at a crossroad.


Beginning won Best Film, Director, Actress and Screenplay at San Sebastián and was selected for Cannes.


Even Mice Belong in Heaven

Directed by Denisa Grimmová, Jan Bubeníček
Czech Republic, France, Poland, Slovakia
87 minutes
All Ages
Language: English

This joyful animated film, selected for Annecy Film Festival, tells the surprising friendship between Whitebelly the Fox and Whizzy the Mouse. Based on a best-selling book by Iva Procházková, this puppet animation sees the sworn enemies on Earth thrown together in animal heaven where they must join forces to search for Whizzy’s father.


Along the way this unlikely pair develop an unbreakable bond. Stunning sets and incredible puppets make for a marvellous visual treat. Add to that a script that tugs at the heartstrings while also making you smile. A delightful ode to love, friendship, courage and the cycle of life, all delivered with a light touch and plenty of charm. Suitable for ages five and up.



Directed by Ninja Thyberg
Sweden, Netherlands, France
105 minutes
Unclassified 18+
LANGUAGES: In English and Swedish with English subtitles

A young woman strives for success and agency in LA’s lucrative and ruthless porn industry in Swedish director Ninja Thyberg’s bold and meticulously observed debut. Cannes 2020.


19 year-old Bella Cherry arrives in LA with one goal – to be the next big name in adult film. Bella finds a world of simmering rivalry and loose regulations. Ninja Thyberg demythologises porn through an honest, scrupulous gaze – moments of abuse and exploitation sit alongside gems of genuine friendship and professionalism.


This sense of authenticity is heightened by a cast featuring real-life adult film stars and agents. Confident, explicit and propulsive, Pleasure gives voice to an ambitious and unapologetic heroine, and reveals the realities of a cutthroat, male-dominated industry.


Quo Vadis, Aida?

Directed by Jasmila Žbanić
Bosnia and Herzegovina, Austria, Romania, Netherlands, Germany, Poland, France, Norway, Turkey
103 minutes
LANGUAGES: In Bosnian, English and Dutch with English subtitles

Inspired by true events, Jasmila Žbanić (Grbavica), a survivor of the war herself, presents this gripping, Oscar-nominated thriller that sees a UN translator in Srebrenica attempting to save her family as conflict rages around them.


Bosnia, July 1995. As the Serbian army encroaches, Aida (Jasna Ðuricic) and her family are amongst over 30,000 people seeking refuge in a UN peacekeeper military base. Using her modest connections, she manages to get her husband and two sons into the relative safety of the base. Aida believes in the values of the UN and in its ability to de-escalate the situation.


But it soon becomes clear that the Serbian army has no intention of respecting the UN ultimatum and that the UN has limited means or will to enforce it. Privy to the flailing negotiations, Aida becomes increasingly desperate as she manoeuvres to keep her family safe.



Directed by Abbas Kiarostami
Iran, France
109 minutes
LANGUAGE: In Farsi with English subtitles

Part of the Abbas Kiarostami retrospective (see below for more details)

An illuminating and direct piece of cinema that focuses on the lives of contemporary Iranian women, set entirely within the confines of a car. Filmed on mini video cameras without a traditional crew, Ten centres on a chic divorcee in Tehran. She drives her young son around town and on her travels encounters various female passengers, who each provide an insight into the roles of, and attitudes toward, women in contemporary Iran.


Cars are a staple of Kiarostami’s films and after creating cinema largely void of female leads, the uniquely public/private space of the vehicle offered enormous narrative freedoms for his characters to explore the world. Moreover, by placing the actor’s side by side in the frame, Kiarostami achieved more naturalistic performances from his cast, resulting in a moving filmic experience.


The Gravedigger’s Wife

Directed by Khadar Ayderus Ahmed
Finland, Germany, France
83 minutes

Finnish-Somali director Khadar Ayderus Ahmed has made a striking and heart-warming debut with The Gravedigger’s Wife. A rare film from Djibouti, this beautiful love story sees Guled, a poor gravedigger stretched to the limit as he tries to save his severely ill wife, Nasra and provide for teenage son, Mahad.


Compounding their already difficult circumstances, Nasra’s chronic kidney disease grows worse. She’s in desperate need of a transplant, but there is virtually no chance for Guled to raise the huge sum required for her treatment. The only solution – one Nasra is set against – will take Guled on a perilous journey that reveals the troubled origins of their love story.


The Lost Leonardo

Directed by Andreas Koefoed
Denmark, France, Sweden
95 minutes
All Ages

The Lost Leonardo is a real-life art thriller involving a painting purportedly by Leonardo da Vinci, million-dollar deals and experts at loggerheads. A forgotten masterwork or an artworld powerplay?


In 2005, a painting of Jesus named Salvator Mundi was labelled as “after Leonardo” and sold at auction for less than US$10,000. It was in poor condition and sent to a top New York restorer, who declared it a lost Leonardo. So begins “the most improbable story that has ever happened in the art world.” Despite authentication by the UK’s national gallery, no museum or gallery would purchase the work. That is until a Swiss businessman and Russian oligarch step into the frame.


In 2017, it’s back on the market, eventually selling for a world record-breaking US$450 million. In this ripping crowd-pleaser, Andreas Koefoed (Ballroom Dancer, SFF 2012) dramatically reveals how various the wealthy and the powerful value dollars and prestige first, and truth a poor second.


The Worst Person in the world (Julie en 12 chapitres)

Directed by Joachim Trier
127 minutes
LANGUAGE: In Norwegian with English subtitles

Julie (Renate Reinsve, who won Best Actress in Cannes for the film) is turning 30 and is facing an existential crisis.


Having constantly changed her mind about what she wants to do with her life, Julie has wasted her talents. Now Aksel (Anders Danielsen Lie, also in Bergman Island, SFF 2021), her successful older boyfriend, wants to settle down, and perhaps even have a child.


When she crashes a wedding, she meets the charming Eivind (Herbert Nordrum). Whilst neither cheat on their respective partners, the initial spark lingers. Trier’s story of the impact of life decisions, with visually audacious sequences and great performances, is a funny, romantic and unforgettable film.



Directed by Christian Petzold
Germany, France
90 minutes
LANGUAGE:  In German with English subtitles

Romance and the supernatural combine in Christian Petzold’s (Phoenix, SFF 2015; Transit, SFF 2018) playful and enigmatic film starring Paula Beer and Franz Rogowski.


Undine is inspired by the myth of the water sprite yearning to live on land and only able to do so by finding true love. The titular character, Undine (Paula Beer, Never Look Away, SFF 2018; Transit), is a Berlin historian and guide, going through a breakup with her lover Johannes. Undine’s reaction is far from usual. She informs Johannes that if he betrays her, she will have to kill him, and then return to the water from where she came. When she meets professional diver named Christoph (Franz Rogowski, Victoria, SFF 2015; Transit) the rules governing her life are thrown into disarray. They embark on a romance that could change everything.


Director Petzold says: “Going by the myth, she would take revenge on Johannes and kill him, but Undine defies the myth… She doesn’t want to leave. She wants to love. She meets someone else. And it’s this love story that Undine tells.




Le Temps Perdu (El Tiempo Perdido)

Director, Screenwriter: María Álvarez
102 mins
All ages
In Spanish with English subtitles

Le Temps Perdu is an award-winning documentary following a charming group of literature aficionados who have been meeting in the same Buenos Aires café for 20+ years to read Proust’s classic seven-volume classic In Search of Lost Time (also known as Remembrance of Things Past).


We watch and listen as they read and debate the content, often with insightful references to their own lives and loves. Filmed over four years, María Álvarez’s poetic black-and-white documentary expertly captures the now-ageing group’s enthusiasm, thoughtfulness and humour. A winner at Argentina’s Mar del Plata International Film Festival.



Abbas Kiarostami was an Iranian director who died in Paris in 2016. Two of his films starred famous French actress Juliette Binoche. These films aren’t part of the retrospective which only features Kiarostami’s Farsi language films.


The Abbas Kiarostami retrospective comprises: 

The Traveler

Where is the Friend’s House 


And Life Goes On 

Through The Olive Trees 

Taste of Cherry

The Wind Will Carry Us 

Ten (which we told you about above).

The discounted package of all 8 films screening in the Abbas Kiarostami Retrospective has sold out but tickets remain to individual films.


Which films are you looking forward to seeing at the Sydney Film Festival 2021? Will you see any of these films with French links that are not in French at SFF 2021?



WHAT: Sydney Film Festival 2021 (SFF 2021)

WHERE: Various locations across Sydney and some films on demand

WHEN: 3-21 November 2021

HOW: Purchase your tickets via the Sydney Film Festival website: www.sff.org.au


SFF 2021 Individual ticket prices are as follows (exclusive of the booking fee):

  • Adult $21
  • Concession* $18
  • Youth (17 and under) $14
  • Group 10+ $18.50
  • Casula sessions $17.50/14.50/11.50
  • Seniors** $12.50


SFF 2021 Pass prices are as follows (exclusive of the booking fee):

  • Flexipass 10 $165 ($16.50 per film)
  • Flexipass 20 $310 ($15.50 per film)
  • Flexipass 30 $435 ($14.50 per film)
  • Youth Pass (15-24 year olds) $75 for 6 films ($12.50 per film)



Don’t forget you can read our other Sydney Film Festival content here:

9 films in French to see at Sydney Film Festival 2021

19 multilingual films including French to see at SFF 2021 


For French films on streaming, take a look at these articles:

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

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

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


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