In Arts + Entertainment

Highlights Reel: Perth’s Alliance Française French Film Festival

With 47 feature films, two documentaries, a cheeky Parisian TV series and a host of special events scheduled over the course of the festival, Perth’s Francophiles are set to have a field day at this year’s Alliance Française French Film Festival.

Returning to Cinema Paradiso, Luna SX and the Windsor Cinema for its 29th year running, the Alliance Française French Film Festival is a much-loved showcase of the passion, artistry and dazzling diversity seen in contemporary French cinema.

The cinematic showcase opens with a new hit for the duo behind the wildly successful The Intouchables on March 14; before all the festival action is rounded off on April 4 with a fun film that explores the awkward junctures in life.

The three-week festival program is full of gems, but if time only allows making it to a few, these are the events that are not to be missed.

Opening Night

A still from C’est la vie Photo: Supplied

The Perth leg of the French Film Festival kicks off with a screening of the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival Closing Night Film, C’est La Vie.

Another film from the famed directorial team behind the 2011 hit The Intouchables, C’est La Vie is a delightful rom-com that follows the story of Max (played by Jean-Pierre Bacri), the short-tempered caterer and event organiser, on his endeavour to pull off a fairytale wedding in a stunning 17th century chateau. Normally meticulously organised, Max is saddled with hopelessly inept staff that threaten to bring his whole event down into a chaotic disgrace. It is a light-hearted, character based film full of charm and wit.

The after-party kicks off post film, with crepes and drinks being served to guests at the Luna SX reception; or with an open bar and bites at Connections Nightclub for Cinema Paradiso’s gala guests. The Paradiso gala guests will also have the chance to meet the swoon-worthy French actor Laurent Lafitte, as he makes an appearance at Connections.

Wednesday 14 March, Cinema Paradiso and Luna SX, $60pp. 

Special Q&A Event with Laurent Lafitte

Laurent Lafitte (right) in See You Up There Photo: Luna Palace

If you missed your chance to meet the dazzling Laurent Lafitte at the opening gala, the Q&A session at Cinema Paradiso scheduled for the following day is your final chance.

Held after a special screening of Albert Dupontel’s crime drama See You Up There– that Dupontel wrote, directed and starred in – Lafitte will be joined by the festival’s artistic director Philippe Platel for question time with the guests.

Lafitte stars in this screen adaption of the best-selling, award-winning novel ‘Pierre Lemaire’, as the sadistic Captain Pradelle. Set in the 1920s, the film follows the story of an infantryman Albert Maillard (Dupontel), and his comrade Édouard Péricourt (Nahuel Pérez Biscayart) in WWI, who both cheat death towards the final days of the battle. On the road to recovery, Péricourt finds himself addicted to morphine, and manages to concoct an elaborate plan with Maillard to sell fake memorials to French towns to honour their fallen.

Thursday March 15, Cinema Paradiso, $21.50pp 

A Taste of France

Back to Burgundy still Photo: Supplied

A Sunday afternoon spent with a glass of wine in hand, some delicious French cheeses from the Cheese Barrel, and a film telling the intertwined story of love and wine is a Sunday afternoon well spent. Starting at 4pm, the matinee soiree is centered around the screening of Cédric Klapisch’s Back to Burgundy.

A story of family, Back to Burgandy sees Jean (Pio Marmaï) return to his childhood home in Burgundy after a 10-year absence working on his winery in Australia. As his father ails, Jean and his siblings Juliette (Ana Girardot) and Jérémie (François Civil), take over the family vineyard in an effort to maintain their father’s legacy.

It is a heart-warming parable of sibling camaraderie and family tensions; a story that ultimately arrives at the conclusion that love and wine are one and the same – they both need time.

Sunday March 18, The Windsor in Nedlands, $30pp 

Closing night

Round off three weeks of captivating French cinema with a night of bubbles, canapes and a light-hearted romantic comedy.

The last screening of the festival is Valérie Lemercier’s 50 Is the New 30; a story of 50-year old Marie-Francine’s (played by Valérie Lemercier) awkward life crossroads. In the same week, Marie-Francine’s misfortune sees her husband leave her for a younger woman, as well as a job loss, and being forced to move back in with her overbearing parents.

The film then takes on a more light-hearted note as it follows a blossoming romance between Francine and Miguel, a chef that neighbours the E-Cigarette boutique that her parents convinced her to open.

As the only screening of 50 Is the New 30 for the festival’s duration, getting to closing night is a must if you want to catch this film.

Wednesday April 4, Cinema Paradiso, The Windsor & Luna SX, $36.50 

Published 14 March, 2018