As most regular readers of my column will know I have always been enamoured of all things French- handbags, cheese, champagne, champagne again and of course, French films. So when Alliance Francaise invited me to a special screening of Rebecca Zlotowski’s ‘Planetarium’ I was there before you could say,“Oui, merci”. A lucky few enjoyed this provocative film at the Palace Barracks and were afterwards treated to a meet and greet with Festival Artistic Director, Phillippe Platel and the stunning Rebecca Zlotowski. The film stars Natalie Portman and up and coming ingenue Lily Rose Depp, (Yes, she is the daughter of Johnny Depp and Vanessa Paradis). The French Film Festival opens in Brisbane on the 16th March and will showcase a range of French films from comedies to romance through to thrillers and biopics, plus everything in between.
The French Film Festival
Phillippe explained, “This year films have been chosen with some big name stars such as Natalie Portman, Marion Cotillard, legend Catherine Deneuve and the elegant Isabelle Huppert, as well as up and coming stars like Lily Rose Depp and Marie Feret.”
Rebecca agrees, “Yes, we mustn’t forget the talented Huppert. Many films that are showing feature women and there are 17 films directed by women in this year’s offerings. In the French film industry the presence of more women directors is growing but still not quite equal to the men just yet.” This is Rebecca’s third film following on from her successes ‘Belle Epine’ and ‘ Grand Central’.
In the magical and exquisitely filmed ‘Planetarium’ Portman and Depp play two psychic sisters in Pre war Paris.
What Can You Expect?
The French Film Festival is now in its 28th year and promises an array of exciting events to coincide with the screenings. The Festival begins with an elegant opening night and the screening of ‘The Odyssey ‘ which tells the story of legendary French underwater explorer Jacques Cousteau. On Ladies’ Night patrons will be enchanted by the powerful biopic , ‘The Dancer’ inspired by the life of Belle Époque dancer, Loie Fuller, as well as enjoying a night of French food, sparkling wine and a party atmosphere. For the Gourmets there is a French countryside party followed by the feel good movie, ‘One Man and His Cow’. For the closing, a fun night will be had watching the hilarious comedy, ‘A Bun in The Oven’, which tells the story of an almost menopausal Nicole (Karin Viard), in a house already bursting at the seams, who finds out that she’s now pregnant at 49. This one really appealed to me.
More French Films
The Festival is comprised of 45 films and Phillippe says, “The films selected are a wonderful mix of artistry. Three of the films are premiering here in Australia, so you can tease your French friends. The French Film Festival in Australia is the biggest outside of France. There is something for everyone.”
I liked the look of ‘The Midwife’ starring screen legends Catherine Deneuve and Catherine Frot, which tells the story of a gifted midwife who starts to question the life she has chosen. She receives a call from her deceased father’s mistress, who has been missing for thirty years and long held secrets are revealed.
‘Souvenir’ a romance/comedy with Isabelle Huppert as a singer, proves age is no barrier to finding love and it’s never too late to find happiness. The mystery, ‘The Unknown Girl’ sees a doctor searching for the identity of a murdered girl in what appears to be a riveting tale.
My music loving son who accompanied me to the ‘Planetarium’ screening (and loved it) is keen to come back and see ‘Monsieur Chocolat’, the box office hit which details the rise and fall of the first popular Afro –Cuban artist of the French Stage. He also thought the comedy ‘ Saint Amour’ a road trip romp starring Gerard Depardieu would be hilarious.
So why not come along and celebrate all things French. The French Film Festival runs from the 16th March through to the 9th April. Boasting a range of special events and a variety of films there will be something to suit everyone’s taste. Merci Beacoup to Alliance Francaise for bringing French culture, taste and humour to Brisbane cinema goers. Ladies’ Night anyone?