The Alliance Française French Film Festival is back for its 26th season, this time with 49 fantastic features, which will take place across 8 cities at Palace Cinema venues from early March until mid-April.
Launching the Festival will be Gemma Bovery, a beguiling romantic comedy-drama from renowned director Anne Fontaine (Coco Before Chanel), which had its world première at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival. Based on the popular graphic novel by Posy Simmonds, it is an endearing film about the dangers of stirring passions.
The Festival ill close with a modern French classic, Paris, Je T’aime that will take audiences through the arrondissements of Paris, with 20 superb short films inspired by the subject of love, from acclaimed directors such as Olivier Assayas, Bruno Podalydès, Gus Van Sant and Ethan and Joel Cohen.
Highlights from the programme include:
Breathe (Dir. Mélanie Laurent)
Cast: Lou de Laâge, Joséphine Japy, Isabelle Carré & Claire Keim
Acclaimed actress Mélanie Laurent takes the director’s chair for this emotionally seductive and hugely affecting drama about an adolescent friendship perched on the brink of obsession. When Charlie, an attractive but self-doubting 17-year-old girl meets the charismatic, forthright and unruly Sarah, they immediately form an intense and exhilarating bond. Sarah offers both companionship and much-needed support for Charlie whilst her unstable mother copes badly with impending divorce. But their inseparable, idyllic existence soon steers into dangerous territory.
Girlhood (Dir. Céline Sciamma)
Cast: Karidja Touré, Assa Sylla, Lindsay Karamoh & Marietou Touré
A story of female empowerment set in the tough neighbourhoods of Paris. Marieme is a shy 16-year-old who lives with her frequently absent mother, a domineering older brother, and two younger sisters who mostly fall to her responsibility. Left behind at high school where she’s told her grades are too poor to continue, Mariame is soon lured out of her shell by three vivacious neighborhood teens. She quickly adopts their flashier look and adapts to their bold, often reckless behavior, making both foolish and brave choices as she struggles towards independence.
The New Girlfriend (Dir. François Ozon)
Cast: Romain Duris, Anaïs Demoustier, Raphaël Personnaz, Isild Le Besco, & Aurore Clément
Effortlessly fusing the best of Hitchcock and Almodóvar, this superb psychological drama owes its origins to a Ruth Rendell short story. Claire is grieving the loss of her very best friend, who has left behind a husband, David, and a newborn baby. But during an unannounced visit, she is shocked to discover David nuzzling his infant whilst wearing his dead wife’s clothes. Unfazed, David explains that his former wife was aware of this particular idiosyncrasy and over time, Claire overcomes her initial reaction and helps David to create his own female persona to inhabit.
These are the films I am keen to see from the line-up: Before the Winter Chill, Breathe, Eden (which I saw at TIFF and really want to see again), Girlhood (one of the best films of 2014), The New Girlfriend, Ella L’Adore, Love at First Fight, Once Upon a Forrest, Samba, The Gate and Tokyo Fiancée.
For the full programme and information about dates,venues and tickets, head to the official festival website: http://www.affrenchfilmfestival.org
You can also find the festival on Twitter @AFFFF2015