9 films in French at Sydney Film Festival 2023 including Palme d’Or winner at Cannes 2023

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Sydney Film Festival 2023 starts today and there are several films in French, from France and related to France and French people in the program. In this article, we tell you about the films in French, whether solely in French or where French is but one of the languages spoken in the film.

Sydney Film Festival 2023

In a separate article to come this week, we will also let you know about the films related to France and French people showing at Sydney Film Festival 2023.


Films in French only at Sydney Film Festival 2023


CANNES PALME D’OR WINNER: Anatomy of a Fall (Anatomie d’une chute)


15, 16 & 18 June 203


LANGUAGE: In French, English and German with English subtitles

DIRECTOR: Justine Triet

Sydney Film Festival 2023 - Anatomy of a Fall - an image of a person lying dead in the snow while two others stand looking over him. Winner of the Cannes Palme d’Or 2023, Justine Triet’s tense psychological drama stars a brilliant Sandra Hüller (Toni Erdmann, SFF 2016) as an author accused of murdering her husband.


Hüller plays Sandra, a successful German writer who has spent the last year living with her French husband Samuel (Samuel Theis) and 11-year-old son Daniel (Milo Machado Graner) in a chalet in the idyllic French Alps. When Samuel is found dead by young Daniel, lying in the snow with a severe head injury, the police begin investigations that gradually reveal a fractious relationship. A year later, Sandra is on trial for murder, with her son’s testimony crucial to the outcome. As concerned with ideas around sexuality, art and marriage as with the twists and turns of the investigation and trial, Anatomy of a Fall is a searingly intelligent film that lingers in the mind long after the closing credits.


Un couple/ A Couple SFF 2023A couple (Un Couple)

10 & 11 June 2023


LANGUAGE In French with English subtitles

DIRECTOR Frederick Wiseman

A rare narrative work from legendary documentarian Frederick Wiseman explores the fractious relationship between the literary couple Leo and Sophia Tolstoy.


The Tolstoys were married for 36 years, had 13 children and each kept a diary, alongside constant correspondence with each other through letters – all while living in the same house. Wiseman, the great chronicler of institutions, here looks unflinchingly at the institution of marriage. Through a searing monologue, drawn from the diaries and letters of the Tolstoys, Sophia (played brilliantly by Nathalie Boutefeu) describes a tumultuous marriage to the mercurial War and Peace author – one of great sadness and intense passion.


Shot on the beautiful, flower-filled Belle Île, an island off the coast of Brittany, the mesmerising A Couple shows that the 93-year-old maestro (the subject of SFF’s 2022 retrospective) still has something exceptional up his sleeve.


Midwives (Sages-Femmes)

9, 10 & 16 June 2023


LANGUAGE In French with English subtitles


Midwives Sage-femmes Sydney Film Festival 2023Two rookie midwives are thrown into the hectic deliveries ward of a French hospital. Winner of the Ecumenical Prize in Berlinale 2023, this is a triumphant film about often unsung hospital heroes.


Best friends and flatmates Sofia and Louise (Khadija Kouyaté and Héloïse Janjaud, both superb), are thrown into the deep end on their first day as midwives. Both must stay afloat amid the extensive monitors, understaffed delivery rooms and dizzying corridors. With compassion and humour, writer-director Léa Fehner tackles the personal and professional sacrifices they make in an under-financed health system that’s bursting at the seams. Featuring real childbirth scenes, Midwives captures the broad spectrum of emotions on the ward – from screaming labour pains to the relaxed laughs of late-night camaraderie.



On the AdamantOn the adamant (Sur L’Adamant)

13, 14 & 17 June 2023

COUNTRY France, Japan

LANGUAGE In French with English subtitles

DIRECTOR Nicolas Philibert

Berlinale’s 2023 Golden Bear was awarded to documentarian Nicolas Philibert (To Be and To Have) for his moving portrait of a floating Parisian day-care centre for people with mental health difficulties.


The Adamant is moored on the Seine in the centre of Paris. An unusual setting for a health centre but perhaps one that suits its distinctive approach. Visitors to the light-filled vessel will find a respectful and compassionate environment, a place to sing or discuss movies, and everyone has a say in the day-to-day activities.


This sense of hearing every voice, of seeing people as individuals, has long been an element of Philibert’s work in films such as In the Land of the Deaf (SFF 1994) and Every Little Thing (SFF 1997). So too his patient observations, usually over a long period of time, building trust along with remarkable insight.


Orlando, my political biography (Orlando, Ma Biographie Politique)

9 & 11 June 2023


LANGUAGE In French with English subtitles

DIRECTOR Paul B. Preciado

Virginia’s Woolf’s 1928 novel provides the spark for this strikingly inventive exploration of gender and identity. Winner, Teddy Award, Best Documentary, Berlinale 2023.


Woolf’s classic – the story of Orlando, a young nobleman who grows up to be a woman and lives for centuries – has inspired countless adaptations, but arguably none quite so innovative as this playful hybrid. Director Paul B. Preciado melds dramatisations of the story and his imaginary correspondence with Woolf alongside interviews in which trans and non-binary people face the camera, donning neck ruffles and introducing themselves as modern-day Orlandos.


Philosopher and writer Preciado’s (Countersexual Manifesto, Testo Junkie, Pornotopia) intelligent, playful and fluid directorial debut won four awards at Berlinale 2023.


Sydney Film Festival 2023

Thunder (Foudre)

9 & 17 June 2023

COUNTRY Switzerland

LANGUAGE In French with English subtitles

DIRECTOR Carmen Jaquier

Rebellion, spirituality, and sexual awakening entwine in Carmen Jaquier’s visceral debut about a teen nun returning to the Swiss Alps after her sister’s mysterious death.


In the summer of 1900, pious 17-year-old Elisabeth learns of the death of her sister, Innocente. Ripped away from the nunnery where she planned to spend her life, she returns home to the Valais valley, where her sister’s name has become taboo. Then, an encounter with three village boys and Innocente’s hidden diary awakens something fresh and wild in the touch-starved Elisabeth.


Reminiscent of Jane Campion’s The Piano, Carmen Jacquier’s debut draws on the staggering beauty of the mountains and rivers, in an elemental portrayal of youth caught between restriction and discovery, desire and God.


Films in French together with other languages


Omen (Augure)

13 & 16 June 2023

COUNTRY: Belgium, France, Netherlands, Democratic Republic of Congo, South Africa, Germany

LANGUAGE: In French, Swahili, Lingala and English with English subtitles

DIRECTOR : Baloji (who we interviewed before he performed at WOMADelaide 2019)

Sydney Film Festival 2023 Omen Augure Baloji

Cannes Un Certain Regard: Prix de la nouvelle voix.

A man banished from Congo, accused of sorcery, returns fifteen years later in this visually resplendent debut from rapper and artist Baloji.


Koffi (Marc Zinga) was banished from Congo and sent to relatives in Belgium because he was considered a sorcerer. Fifteen years later, he is about to have his first child with partner Alice (Lucie Debay). They travel to the Congolese city of Lubumbashi to reconcile with his family, bearing a cash offering. But Koffi receives a welcome that’s anything but warm. His father is nowhere to be found, his mother wants little to do with him, and one of his sisters accuses him of trying to curse her young child.


In telling this compelling story, Baloji takes fascinating diversions through the streets of vibrant Lubumbashi. The result is filled with astonishing, unforgettable images, and marks the emergence of an incredible filmmaking talent.



10 & 16 June 2023


LANGUAGE In English and French with English subtitles


Ira Sachs (Love is Strange, SFF 2014) returns with this sexy Sundance/Berlinale highlight about a thorny ménage à trois. Featuring knockout performances from Franz Rogowski, Ben Whishaw and Adèle Exarchopoulos.


Rogowski plays a charismatic, self-involved film director, Tomas, who leaps back and forth between the Parisian apartments of artist husband Martin (Whishaw) and school teacher Agathe (Exarchopoulos). It all unravels when a disinterested Martin leaves Tomas’s movie wrap party early, and Tomas hits it off with the younger Agathe on the dancefloor – which continues to the bedroom. Prideful and oblivious, Tomas immediately confesses his affair, triggering an ever-teetering love triangle. Sachs’s and Mauricio Zacharias’s bitterly funny script is a whirlwind of raunch, revelations and relapses, exploring the trappings of indulging the impulsiveness of a narcissist.


Sira Sydney Film Festival 2023Sira

11 & 17 June 2023

COUNTRY Burkina Faso, France, Germany, Senegal

LANGUAGE In French and Fulani with English subtitles

DIRECTOR Apolline Traoré

The Berlinale Panorama Audience Award 2023 went to this revenge saga from Burkina Faso, in which a young Muslim woman must survive her terrorist kidnapping and get retribution along the way.


Sira (Nafissatou Cissé) is travelling with her nomadic Fulani Muslim family in the Sahel region of Africa, introduced strikingly in vibrant colour against the arid orange dunes. She’s palpably excited to meet her intended Christian husband, until the family is confronted and gunned down by a militant group; the leader, Yere, has received advance word of the forbidden union, and abducts and assaults Sira. Left alone in the vast desert, she embarks on a gruelling quest for survival that transforms into a story of female solidarity and revenge, in this empowering and visually stunning blend of social realism and rousing adventure melodrama.


WHAT: Sydney Film Festival 2023

WHEN: 7-18 June 2023

WHERE: Sydney

HOW: purchase your tickets via the Sydney Film Festival website

HOW MUCH: Ticket prices are as follows:

Individual tickets

  • Adult $24
  • Concession/Senior $18.50
  • Youth (17 & Under) $17

There are also Flexipasses available 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


What films are you planning to see at Sydney Film Festival 2023?


For other events with links to France, the French culture and language and the Francophonie, check out our What’s on in June.



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