2020 welcomes both a new decade and the sparkling 31st edition of the Alliance Française French Film Festival, returning to Brisbane from March 18 to April 14 at the Palace Barracks and Palace James Street.
In keeping with such a momentous year, this beloved event will once again unveil a thrilling selection of contemporary French cinema, guaranteed to captivate and stimulate audiences around the country.
Presented by the Alliance Française in association with the Embassy of France in Australia and Unifrance Films, the 2020 season will screen at Palace Cinemas and affiliate locations throughout March and April, encompassing 8 cities and 4 satellite locations.
Celebrating his 4th year as Artistic Director, Philippe Platel, has spent the past 12 months reviewing hundreds of films in order to select the superlative array of 49 features and documentaries, along with 2 thrilling television shows, that form this year’s programme – many of which will be screening in Australia for the first time.
Showcased via 9 distinct categories with expressively piquant headings such as ‘Eternal Odyssey,’ ‘Intense & Unsettling,’ ‘The Voice of the Countryside,’ ‘Magnetic Love,’ and ‘City of Lights,’ the 2020 line-up has a strong emphasis on social engagement and altruistic endeavours. These qualities are depicted in films such as the multi-award-winning Les Misérables, Ladj Ly’s searing snapshot of corruption and simmering tensions in modern-day Paris; School Life, a comedy/drama set within a Saint Denis high school; Invisibles, which follows the unorthodox antics taken by an illegal women’s shelter to avoid closure; Oh Mercy!, a darkly compelling exposé of the human condition as observed by a police chief in Northern France; the poignant rural drama, In the Name of the Land, starring Guillaume Canet as a farmer battling to maintain his dignity in the face of incessant setbacks, and many more extraordinary films.
In times of social, environmental and political uncertainty, cinema also looks to heroic figures for inspiration, a trend which is echoed via themes ranging from space travel (Proxima and How to Become an Astronaut); fairytale princes (The Lost Prince and Donkey Skin),political leaders (Alice and the Mayor and Savages); submarine soldiers (The Wolf’s Call)and spirits (Zombi Child).
High on the list of 2020 highlights is the international premiere of director Martin Provost’sHow to Be a Good Wife. Set at a time when women were still expected to be largely subservient, this delicious comedy stars the luminous Juliette Binoche as the pristine head of a housekeeping school who, when faced with adversity, takes her first steps towards emancipation.
There’s also the hotly anticipated La Belle Époque, which tells the story of Victor (Daniel Auteuil) a disillusioned man who is given the opportunity to relive the great love-affair of his youth, and the whimsically romantic Notre-Dame – shot before last year’s horrific fire – about an architect who wins a competition to redesign the Notre-Dame esplanade – a movie which, given events of the past year, is now considered visionary.
Breathing life into this cinematic cornucopia will be a host of France’s most electrifying actors, including Fanny Ardant, Vincent Cassel, Romain Duris, Emmanuelle Bercot, Bérénice Bejo, Jean Dujardin, Fabrice Luchini, Noémie Lvovsky, Eva Green, Jacques Perrin, Gaspard Ulliel, Roshdy Zem, Léa Seydoux, Yolande Moreau, Xavier Dolan, Virginie Efira, Sandrine Kiberlain, François Cluzet, Gilles Lellouche, Laurent Lafitte, Christophe Lambert, Mathieu Kassovitz, Virginie Ledoyen and Ludvine Sagnier, who will feature in films directed by, amongst others, Christophe Honoré, Zabou Breitman, Xavier Dolan, Martin Provost, Olivier Nakache, Éric Toledano, Guillaume Canet, Erwan Le Duc, Rémi Bezançon, André Téchiné, Cédric Kahn, Dominik Moll, Arnaud Desplechin, Cédric Klapisch, Michel Hazanavicius, and Yvan Attal.
And in celebration of its 50th anniversary, the Festival will present a restored version of the aforementioned, Donkey Skin, a luscious fairy-tale musical from legendary New-Wave director Jacques Demy, featuring a soundtrack by Michel Legrand and starring the eternal Catherine Deneuve who headlines four films in this year’s programme.
National dates and venues for the 2020 Alliance Française French Film Festival are:
SYDNEY: 10 March – 8 April
Palace Norton Street, Palace Verona, Chauvel Cinema, Palace Central & Hayden Orpheum Cremorne
MELBOURNE: 11 March – 8 April
Palace Balwyn, Palace Brighton Bay, Palace Cinema Como, Palace Westgarth, Kino Cinemas & The Astor Theatre
PERTH: 11 March – 8 April
Palace Raine Square, Cinema Paradiso, Luna on SX, Windsor Cinema & Camelot Outdoor Cinema
CANBERRA: 12 March – 8 April
Palace Electric Cinema
ADELAIDE: 17 March – 14 April
Palace Nova Eastend Cinemas, Palace Nova Prospect Cinema
BRISBANE: 18 March – 14 April
Palace Barracks & Palace James Street
HOBART: 19 – 28 March
AVOCA BEACH: 19 March – 1 April
Avoca Beach Picture Theatre
PARRAMATTA: 26 – 29 March
Riverside Theatres Parramatta
BYRON BAY: 31 March – 12 April
Palace Byron Bay
BENDIGO: 17 – 19 April
BALLARAT: 17 -19 April