10 films with links to France showing at SFF 2023

Reading Time: 7 minutes

In addition to the films in French showing at Sydney Film Festival 2023 (SFF 2023), there are a number of films with links to France, whether they be films made in France but not in French, or films that have a link to France through their storyline: such as featuring French actresses, the retelling of French stories, or about plotting an escape to France.

SFF 2023 Sydney Film Festival 2023 

Blind willow, sleeping woman (Saules Aveugles, Femme Endormie)

14 & 16 June 2023
COUNTRIES: France, Canada, Netherlands, Luxembourg
LANGUAGE: In English
DIRECTOR: Pierre Földes

Read our article about this film here


Carmen Benjamin MillepiedCarmen

8, 10 & 13 June
COUNTRIES: Australia, France
LANGUAGES: In English, and Spanish with English subtitles
DIRECTOR: Benjamin Millepied

Starring Paul Mescal and Melissa Barrera, this visionary retelling of Carmen is an exhilarating thriller combining dance, politics and music, and features Sydney Dance Company artists.


Carmen (Barrera, In the Heights) is forced to go on the run from Mexico when her mother is killed. Crossing the border into the US, she encounters ruthless vigilantes. Following a violent incident, she escapes with troubled marine Aidan (Mescal, Aftersun ). The pair head to LA to seek refuge with Carmen’s mother’s friend Masilda (Rossy de Palma) at her nightclub – the site of some of the film’s most impressive dance sequences. All the while the police are tracking down the lovers.


Shot in NSW, acclaimed choreographer Benjamin Millepied’s debut feature finds contemporary resonance for this classic story.


SFF 2023Jane Campion, the cinema woman

10 & 15 June 2023
LANGUAGE: In English
DIRECTOR: Julie Bertuccelli

Filmmaker Julie Bertuccelli (The Tree, SFF 2010) draws the portrait that Jane Campion deserves in a Cannes-selected documentary that is unapologetically subjective, mirroring Campion’s own indelible body of work.


Brimming with candid anecdotes and a treasure trove of never-before-seen archival footage, this is an insightful and wildly entertaining documentary. César Award-winning director Bertuccelli charts Campion’s extraordinary life journey from her childhood under theatre-world parents in New Zealand, to her young adulthood as a film school pariah in Sydney (“I didn’t want to compete with the [male students] … I just wanted to tell stories that were so private they couldn’t even imagine them”), to Cannes darling and internationally renowned auteur.


Campion proves a generous raconteur of her own story – with one of the most infectious laughs in the game – in this treat for Campion devotees and fans of mould-breaking artists alike.


SFF 2023 ParadiseParadise (Paradis)

13 & 18 June 2023
COUNTRIES: France, Switzerland
LANGUAGE: In Yakut with English subtitles
DIRECTOR: Alexander Abaturov

In this gripping IDFA 2022 award-winning doc, an immense wildfire barrels across the Siberian landscape – and the villagers are left to defend their homes on their own, completely abandoned by Russian authorities.


As one of the largest tracts of virgin forests in the world, the taiga region is sparsely populated and hard to access. In 2015 the Russian federal government decreed that northeast Siberia is a ‘control zone’, meaning that local authorities will no longer help fight wildfires in this area because the cost of the effort exceeds that of the damage. Abandoned, the inhabitants of Shologon village face down the raging inferno with little equipment or training.


Russian director Alexander Abaturov documents their determination and heroism, as prize-winning French cinematographer Paul Guilhaume (Paris, 13th District, SFF 2021) captures the scene’s perverse beauty, in this critical reminder of the impacts of global warming.



9 & 10 June 2023
LANGUAGE: In Russian with English subtitles
DIRECTOR: Agniia Galdanova

Non-conformity in Putin’s Russia is a risky business, as experienced by queer artist and activist Gena Marvin. Winner, NEXT: WAVE Award at CPH:DOX 2023.


Gena was raised by her grandparents in the Soviet-era industrial city of Magadan. It’s far from being a compatible environment for an artist like Gena, as seen in footage of her teetering across the frozen ground in mega-heels and white face paint. She leaves to study in Moscow, but her radical performances and otherworldly costumes aren’t tolerated in the Russian capital either. She’s expelled, and now faces military conscription – just as the conflict in Ukraine looms.


Queer Russian filmmaker Agniia Galdanova filmed Gena over four years, skilfully capturing both the defiance and vulnerability of this vibrant young activist.



9, 10 & 15 June
COUNTRIES: Iran, France
LANGUAGE: In Farsi with English subtitles

A married couple meet their doppelgängers in a riveting psychological mystery by leading Iranian filmmaker Mani Haghighi (Pig, SFF 2018). Toronto, 2022.


Farzaneh is a pregnant driving instructor who believes husband Jalal is being unfaithful. But the man she spotted entering the apartment of another woman was not Jalal. It was Mohsen, his doppelgänger. Farzaneh soon discovers Mohsen’s wife, Bita, is her doppelgänger. A heavy air of doubt and apprehension hovers once working-class Farzaneh and Jalal meet their much wealthier doubles and come to grips with an almost otherworldly new reality. As the quartet look deeper into each other’s eyes and learn more about their lives, hidden fears and desires slowly take hold.


Superbly performed by Taraneh Alidoosti (The Salesman) and Navid Mohammadzadeh (No Date, No Signature, SFF 2018), this elegantly executed mystery keeps you guessing all the way.


The Winter WithinThe Winter Within

9 & 10 June
COUNTRIES: India, France, Qatar
LANGUAGES: In Kashmiri and Urdu with English subtitles

A young Kashmiri woman searches for her husband, a militant who has been ‘disappeared’ by occupying forces, in this compelling drama from actor-turned-director Aamir Bashir.


Years of documented human rights abuses by the Indian army in Kashmir are the real-life basis for this intimate tale of the personal cost of state violence. Zoya Hussain is outstanding as Nargis, a poor villager who struggles with social stigma as the wife of a missing rebel militant while pursuing her desperate search for him. She is also a highly skilled weaver; the intricate shawl she is making is emblematic of her fragile hope. Meanwhile the frigid winter of the Himalayan foothills, beautifully captured by cinematographer and co-writer Shanker Raman, underscores the film’s exploration of trauma, fear and oppression. But despite the chill, there is a burning heart of anger and defiance in this powerful drama.



Cannes Uncut poster SFF 2023Cannes Uncut

8 & 12 June
LANGUAGE: In English

A luminary-packed tribute that lifts the curtain on the Cannes Film Festival in its 75th year – for as they say in France, ‘the story of Cannes is the story of cinema’.


Cannes Uncut covers it all, from the festival’s birth and first awards, to the 1968 protests, its numerous controversies and glorious excesses, triumphs and failures. It celebrates the glamour, red carpets, films, stunts, deals, parties and personalities. Plus, the Palm Dog Award for best canine performance, of course. What results is an exhilarating, behind-the-scenes look at 75 years of cinema history.


Featuring interviews with festival head Thierry Frémaux; Cannes regulars Tilda Swinton, Juliette Binoche and Léa Seydoux; filmmakers such as Lynne Ramsay, Mike Leigh, Quentin Tarantino, Sean Baker, Ken Loach and Wim Wenders; photographers, programmers, fashion designers and more.


SFF 2023 No BearsNo Bears

11 & 14 June
LANGUAGES: In Farsi, Azeri and Turkish with English subtitles

Though banned from making films in Iran, Jafar Panahi won the Venice Special Jury Prize for his bold take on two parallel love stories thwarted by superstition and power. Panahi (Tehran Taxi, SFF 2015; Three Faces, SFF 2018), only recently released from an Iranian prison on bail, both directs and stars in No Bears. What results are two powerful sagas unfolding onscreen.


Panahi plays a fictionalised version of himself directing a film remotely from a small border village in Iran. Banned from leaving the country, his assistant director instead oversees the shoot in nearby Türkiye. In the film he’s making, a couple desperately tries to secure fake passports to escape to France. Whilst filming Panahi is swept up in a scandal surrounding another young couple’s forbidden romance.


In this searing blend of truth and fiction, Panahi questions the role of an artist in societies only too willing to scapegoat them.


SFF 2023 Red White & BrassRed, White & Brass

9, 10, 11 & 16 June
COUNTRY: New Zealand
LANGUAGES: In English and Tongan with English subtitles

This hilarious true story sees Tongan rugby superfans trick their way to the Rugby World Cup by forming a marching band — despite having never played.


After failing miserably in his efforts to secure tickets to the much-anticipated Tonga-France match, Maka (John-Paul Foliaki) rushes head-first into his last resort. He offers to provide a Tongan brass band for the pre-match entertainment. The thing is, the band doesn’t exist and Maka and an assortment of friends and family, most with no musical experience, have four weeks to build a credible band and routine. This with no instruments but plastic bottles and tin cans, and Tongan community elders staunchly against this potentially embarrassing stunt. But Maka is nothing if not persistent, and along this remarkable journey he gains a great deal more than tickets to a game.

SPECIAL EVENT: A post-film celebration is happening on 9 June: https://www.sff.org.au/program/browse/red-white-brass-scrum-at-the-hub 



WHAT: Sydney Film Festival SFF 2023

WHEN: 7-18 June 2023

WHERE: various locations in Sydney

HOW: purchase your tickets via the Sydney Film Festival website

HOW MUCH: Individual ticket prices are as follows:

  • Adult $24
  • Concession $18.50
  • Youth (17 & under) $17

There are also flexi-passes available for SFF 2023 if you wish to see multiple films:

  • Flexipass 10: $170 (save $70)
  • Flexipass 20: $320 (save $160)
  • Fleixpass 30 $450 (save $270)
  • Youth Pass 6 (for 15-24 year olds) $75 save $75


Which films are you planning to see at SFF 2023?


For more events with links to France and the Francophonie, check out our What’s on in June 2023 article.


Enter your email to subscribe to new article notifications about all things French and francophone in Australia

Related Posts

Matilda Marseillaise

Discover more from Matilda Marseillaise

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading