Alliance Francaise French Film Festival 2015

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“The nation’s most sparkling film event, the Alliance Française French Film Festival, will return for its 26th annual season around Australia from early march until mid-April 2015.

For its 26th season, Artistic Director Emmanuelle Denavit-Feller has selected a tantalising line-up of 49 features and documentaries showcasing the latest work of directors such as Anne Fontaine, Benoît Jacquot, François Ozon, Mathieu Amalric, and Mia Hansen-Løve.”

Down in this oft-forgotten continent, a place where too many films never see distribution, suddenly I am spoilt for choice as the annual French Film Festival has hit town. Taking up a sizable and tasty chunk of March, it will feature 49 films different films – yes, 49, an impressive amount in anyone’s eyes, and many have caught my attention. I have always been a big fan of French film, and foreign film in general. I am also very keen to watch some French comedy; I enjoy how humour translates across cultures and I have never seen a French comedy. I have a suspicion that this month is going to be fairly one-sided when it comes to the movies I watch! Within 49 films there is bound to be at least ten I enjoy, surely. There are even a couple of documentaries playing, and both look like they are worth a watch.

Of the many, many films that have gotten my attention, the first and most anticipated screening for me is that of Far From Men (Loin des hommes); Viggo Mortensen yet again displaying his immense range and ability to be a chameleon, no matter the size and scope of the film he is acting in, whether it be for David Cronenberg or Lisandro Alonso, or in this case young French director David Oelhoffen, a name I am not familiar with. But I trust Viggo’s judgement and always will. He is an extremely fascinating character himself, mostly certainly an eccentric; he brings something unique to every film he is in and makes it worth a watch no matter what it is. His impact on a film is unlike most actors, and also unlike many actors; he obviously does this for the love of his art, as his work on independent film shows. As for the film, it looks an interesting and varied emotional tale from a young director, plus Warren Ellis and Nick Cave handle the soundtrack. I couldn’t ask for much more than that!! Set against the beginnings of the Algerian War for Independence, the film follows two main characters: Viggo, playing an Algerian-born man who is a part of the French colonial class and, like a good little coloniser, is teaching local children the history and geography of France; and a villager accused of murder, who Viggo’s character is ordered to escort to judgement and ultimately execution. This sounds like a unique character study, not to mention I am happy to pay to see Viggo in any movie at any time.

The second film that I have my eye on is The Blue Room (La chambre bleue), a feature film directed/adapted by and starring one of my favourite actors: Mathieu Amalric. The story seems a little shadowy but as a fan of everything I have seen Amalric in, this is another film I am really looking forward to. From the trailer below, it would seem as if it is an interesting, bold, perhaps erotic take on the suspense genre. Hmmm, original… Also, the snippets of the trailer show Amalric at his best, bringing to memory the urgent, escalating role he played in Venus In Fur a year or two ago. This intriguing genre-blend, combined with the fact Amalric is directing and starring, means this is another I will be sure not to miss. Only 47 films left then!

These are the two main films that I am looking forward to this month, but there is a host of other titles that are begging to be uncovered. Comedy Superchondriac has me interested just by the title and synopsis, and Diplomacy is a World War II film that received high praise in Sight & Sound magazine UK. I am a big WWII buff, so any movie, especially one that is a German and French collaboration, is going to be of interest.

In the midst of all this French flavour, the most memorable (I hope!) event will be watching Le Grande Illusion on the big screen, after pre-movie glasses of wine of course! I have a suspicion that this oppurtunity isn’t going to come up again, and the film is also on my Blindspot list for 2015. Two birds with one stone! How will an 80-odd year old film stand up to the test of time, and how will it look on the big screen in comparison to its modern counterparts? I don’t know but I sure as hell look forward to finding out! I’ll have to remember to go slow on the wine…