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ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

Alliance Francaise French Film Festival 2021

It's touring a program of 37 films around the country, including twisty thrillers, engaging love stories and a movie inspired by Céline Dion.
By Sarah Ward
February 23, 2021
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By Sarah Ward
February 23, 2021
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Australia's annual Alliance Francaise French Film Festival marked its 30th year back in 2019, and celebrated the big occasion with no troubles at all. Proving that no one loves entering their 30s, however, the event hit a few struggles when it turned 31. That happened in March 2020, when Australia started to go into lockdown. The fest was already underway, so AFFFF had to stop screening, postpone its plans, then pick things up again in July and August after cinemas started reopening.

Here's hoping that 2021, the fest's 32nd year, all runs smoothly. AFFFF has 37 films on its hefty lineup this time around, and it's touring them around the country. The event will be making its usual capital city stops, so French movie fans in Brisbane can expect to spend plenty of time at Palace Barracks and Palace James Street between March 17–April 13 — and there'll also be a season playing in Byron Bay as well.

As for what you'll be seeing, AFFFF will open its 2021 lineup with Eiffel, a new biopic starring Romain Duris (All the Money in the World) as the civil engineer who gave Paris' most famous attraction its name. At the other end of its program, the fest will close out with rom-com #Iamhere, which follows a French chef who falls in love via Instagram. And, in-between its two big bookending events, viewers can look forward to a heap of movies starring recognisable faces — including Monica Bellucci, Lupin's charming Omar Sy, the incomparable Isabelle Huppert and Kristin Scott Thomas.

Highlights include The Man Who Sold His Skin, a twisty tale about a Syrian refugee, a tattoo artist and an unusual bargain; Summer of 85, the latest film from acclaimed director François Ozon; and police drama Night Shift, which dives deep into not only law enforcement, but also its handling of immigration matters. Or, there's Fahim, the Little Chess Prince, about the Bangladeshi refugee who became a national French chess champion; The Godmother, which sees Huppert tussle with the drug game; and Aline, which is inspired by the life of Céline Dion.

Elsewhere, the story of France's first restaurant hits the screen via 18th-century-set period drama, Delicious; Final Set sees an ageing tennis player try to win the French Open; Miss follows a boy who'd like to enter the Miss France beauty pageant; and delightful animated feature Calamity, a Childhood of Martha Jane Cannary imagines Calamity Jane's early years. Fans of Deerskin filmmaker Quentin Dupieux can also check out his latest, Mandibles — and, because AFFF always shows at least one absolute classic French flick, this year it's screening Jean-Luc Godard's 1959 masterpiece Breathless.

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