Alliance Française French Film Festival Reveals 2017 Lineup

With 36 formidable films on offer, from the Audrey Tatou-starring Jacques Cousteau biopic to Venice Film Festival highlight Planetarium.

When your festival attendance increases seven-fold in five years, what comes next? It's a problem many events wish they had, however, in their 28th year, the Alliance Française French Film Festival is on the case. With the massive celebration of Gallic cinema continuing to draw crowds across the globe, the beloved annual festival is offering up more of the same. The lineup has changed, of course, but the eclectic nature audiences have come to expect of the event is back.

Kicking off on March 1 in Wellington before touring through 12 centres until April 12, the 2017 program begins and ends with a bang — or, with two very different journeys. In pole position at the start of the fest sits The Odyssey, an adventure-filled biopic focused on famous oceanographer Jacques Cousteau, and co-starring Audrey Tautou as Cousteau's wife Simone. Then, after running through the bulk of its 36-film selection, the fest comes to a close with A Journey Through French Cinema, a highly personal documentary showcasing acclaimed director Bertrand Tavernier.

In between, the AFFFF delivers on two fronts: stars and a vibrant array of big screen stories. There's plenty of both. The former includes 2017 Oscar-nominees Isabelle Huppert and Natalie Portman, with Huppert playing a philosophy professor in Things to Come, and Portman joining forces with Lily-Rose Depp (yes, Johnny's daughter) in Planetarium. Marion Cotillard does double duty in romance From the Land of the Moon and the Xavier Dolan-directed family drama It's Only the End of the World, while the great Gérard Depardieu takes a road trip in Saint Amour.

Elsewhere, the 2017 fest tells the tale of the first popular Afro-Cuban artist of the French stage in Monsieur Chocolat starring The Intouchables' Omar Sy opposite James Thierrée (aka Charlie Chaplin's grandson). Or, viewers can catch Juliette Binoche at her most slapstick in farcical detective effort Slack Bay, and enjoy the kind of moral dilemmas the Dardenne brothers explore so well in The Unknown Girl.

Looking back as well as forwards, a two-movie retrospective steps into the court of Versailles courtesy of the Marie Antoinette-centric Farewell, My Queen and music drama Mozart's Sister. Plus, if all of the above isn't enough for the most eager film buffs, dedicated cinephiles can take A Journey Through French Cinema for 191 minutes of movie history.

The Alliance Française French Film Festival tours New Zealand from March 1, screening at Auckland's Rialto and Berkeley Cinemas, and Wellington's Embassy Theatre. For more information, visit the festival website.

Published on February 03, 2017 by

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