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Alliance Francaise French Film Festival 2023

Melbourne's annual French cinema showcase is back with a 39-movie lineup spanning zombies, comedies, thrillers, tender dramas and more.
By Sarah Ward
February 07, 2023
By Sarah Ward
February 07, 2023

Calling all French film fans: for the whopping 34th year, Australia's Alliance Française French Film Festival is screening a feast of flicks from the other side of the world. Hitting Palace Cinema Como, Palace Balwyn, Palace Brighton Bay, Palace Westgarth, The Astor Theatre, The Kino and Pentridge Cinema in Melbourne from Wednesday, March 8–Wednesday, April 5, this year's cinematic celebration will screen 39 movies throughout March and April — and the full program is something special.

AFFFF's 2023 opening-night pick: Masquerade, spinning a tale of glitz, glamour and the Côte d'Azur's far-less-glossy underbelly under La Belle Époque's director Nicolas Bedos' guidance — and with Pierre Niney (Yves Saint Laurent) and Isabelle Adjani (The World Is Yours) among his stars. As a bookend on closing night, it's joined by Freestyle, which takes to the road with Benjamin Voisin (Lost Illusions) and Marina Foïs (Stella in Love), and promises to end the fest as memorably as it begins.

In-between, must-sees include Saint Omer, with documentarian Alice Diop drawing from true events to craft a drama about a young Parisian journalist and novelist attending murder trial, then wading through the complexities it surfaces within her own family history; One Fine Morning, the latest film by Bergman Island's Mia Hansen-Løve, this time a family drama starring Léa Seydoux (Crimes of the Future); and The Innocent, as written by, directed by and starring Louis Garrel (A Faithful Man), based on his own experiences, and also featuring Noémie Merlant (Tár).

There's also Final Cut, a French remake of Japanese cult hit One Cut of the Dead from The Artist director Michel Hazanavicius, starring Romain Duris (Eiffel); Winter Boy, the new film from Sorry Angel's Christophe Honoré, an autobiographical drama focusing on 17-year-old Lucas (newcomer Paul Kircher); Brother and Sister, with Marion Cotillard (Annette) playing a stage actor and sibling to Melvil Poupaud (Summer of 85); and Other People's Children, a Virginie Efira (Benedetta)-led effort about being a stepmother that's also inspired by director Rebecca Zlotowski's (Planetarium) own life.

Two Quentin Dupieux films sit on the program, too, with the director of Rubber and Deerskin adding both Incredible but True and Smoking Causes Coughing to the lineup — and a sense of humour that only he possesses. Plus, there's award-winner Playground, which focuses on a seven-year-old girl; On the Wandering Paths, which brings Sylvain Tesson's novel to the screen so swiftly after The Velvet Queen also turned his work into cinema (including at AFFFF 2022); and The Origin of Evil, an account of a dysfunctional family that's one of three AFFFF 2023 movies to star Full Time's Laure Calamy.

This year's focus is firmly on the new over the classic, but when it comes to looking backwards, 1988 French box-office smash The Big Blue does the honours.

The full list of 2023 AFFFF titles goes on, as cinephiles have come to not just expect but thoroughly enjoy from a fest that's the largest celebration of French film outside of France.

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