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2019 Alliance Française Classic Film Festival

The Alliance Française Classic Film Festival is making a triumphant return to Australian screens for its highly anticipated 5th season, which will screen from early November in Sydney and Melbourne.

Showcasing a curated selection of powerful films from the past that still resonate today, this landmark event celebrates the rich legacy of French cinema by dedicating each year to a figure who has made an outstanding contribution to the French film industry.     

The 2019 edition pays homage to one of the most critically acclaimed and beloved icons of French cinema; Isabelle Adjani. Recognisable by her distinctive dark hair, porcelain skin and captivating screen presence, Adjani’s magnetic allure transcends time. She is most renowned for her emotionally raw performances, particularly in her portrayal of strong yet tragic heroines.

The Alliance Française and Studiocanal will be hosting the Festival in Sydney and Melbourne, presented in association with Palace Cinemas, Hayden Orpheum Cremorne and the Astor Theatre.

Screening on each Sunday throughout the month of November (Sydney: 3, 10, 17, and 24 November and Melbourne 10, 17, and 24 November), it will encompass a programme of 7 films across 18 sessions and include an Opening Night event for each city.

Philippe Platel, the Alliance Française Classic Film Festival’s Artistic Director said: “Defining Isabelle Adjani as an icon, a legend, the quintessence of a star would of course be utterly relevant but not sufficient to give a sense of the complexity of what surrounds the persona and what some call the ‘Mystère Adjani’. Throughout her great and internationally acclaimed career, there has been a lineage of contrasting ‘Adjanian’ heroines, at once rebellious and delicate, bold and shy, fire and ice. Why is it absolutely necessary to now take a new ride of 7 films with this enchanting treasure of French acting? Because we need to learn from the rebelliousness of her characters in times when the status quo could no longer be accepted. Because she is amongst the most adventurous and brave artists in France of both stage and screen. Because ‘comfort zone’ doesn’t rhyme with Adjani. Because of her unfathomable blue eyes which beguiled Truffaut. Because when an actress says that she can’t perform without unleashing hell, it’s a promise of bareback acting and emotional whirls.”


Notably, Isabelle Adjani has appeared in 30 films since 1970 and holds the record for the most César Awards won for ‘Best Actress’. Four of these films, each representing one of her five wins, are included in this year’s line-up, including Possession(1981), One Deadly Summer (1983), Camille Claudel (1988) and Queen Margot (1994). For The Story of Adele H. (1975), which is also featured in this year’s programme, Adjani was nominated for an Academy Award for ‘Best Actress’, making her the youngest woman nominated for the award in a leading role at the time.

Additional accolades achieved throughout her astonishing career, include a double Cannes Film Festival Award in 1981 for ‘Best Actress’, two Academy Award nominations for ‘Best Actress’ and a ‘Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur’ in 2010.

The following film will screen at this year’s Festival:

THE STORY OF ADELE H. (L’histoire d’Adèle H.) – 1975 (Drama)
Director: François Truffaut                                                               

Cast: Isabelle Adjani, Bruce Robinson

After witnessing Isabelle Adjani’s superb performance in The Slap, director François Truffaut knew that she had to star in his next film, which was based upon the real diary of Adèle Hugo, daughter of renowned French writer Victor Hugo. At only 19 years of age, Adjani received great critical acclaim for this performance, garnering an Academy Award nomination and making her the youngest ‘Best Actress’ nominee ever at the time.

In 1863, Adèle (daughter of renowned French writer Victor Hugo) is madly in love with British lieutenant Albert Pinson (Bruce Robinson). Despite the Lieutenant rejecting her affections, Adèle’s obsession grows and she eventually succumbs to her wild delusions.

POSSESSION (Possession) – 1981 (Drama, Horror)
Director: Andrzej Zulawski                                                               

Cast: Isabelle Adjani, Sam Neill

Fascinating, unrelenting, evil, deranged and perverted, this psychological horror drama defies easy classification and was delivered by one of the most revolutionary filmmakers to emerge from Poland after World War II, Andrzej Zulawski.  Adjani’s performance garnered both César and Cannes Film Festival Awards for ‘Best Actress’.

After requesting a divorce from her husband with no obvious explanation, Mark (Sam Neil) suspects that Anna (Adjani) and sets out to uncover the truth. He decides to follow his wife, who displays increasingly disturbing behaviour. Eventually, Mark’s suspicions of infidelity give way to something far more sinister. Fascinating, unrelenting, evil, deranged and perverted, this psychological horror drama defies easy classification.


ALL FIRED UP (Tout feu, tout flamme) – 1982 (Action, Comedy)                                                  

Director: Jeau-Paul Rappeneau                                                                

Cast: Isabelle Adjani, Yves Montand

Both Adjani and Montand shine in this entertaining farcical thriller, enhanced by a great cast and an amazing soundtrack, composed by the famous French singer Michel Berger.

Pauline (Adjani) is suspicious when her absentee father returns home, and it turns out that she was right to be. The charming Victor Valance (Yves Montand) has returned to Paris to scrounge for money. A very particular struggle emerges between the two and soon enough, both father and daughter are fending off mobsters.


ONE DEADLY SUMMER (L’été meurtier) – 1983 (Drama)
Director: Jean Becker                                                 

Cast: Isabelle Adjani, Alain Souchon, Michel Galabru

An adaptation of Sébastien Japrisot’s novel, this film garnered four Césars in 1983, including ‘Best Original Screenplay’ and ‘Best Editing’.

It is spring 1976 and the alluring Eliane Wieck moves to a sun-drenched provincial town in Southern France, accompanied by her introverted mother and disabled father.  Pin-Pon (Alain Souchon), a local car mechanic, instantly falls in love with her. They are soon married, however circumstances around Eliane’s arrival remain mysterious. What prompted the family’s move in the first place? Is Eliane really in love? Adjani delivers a captivating performance as a traumatised woman harbouring a terrible secret, which would earn her a second César.


SUBWAY (Subway) – 1985 (Drama) – SYDNEY ONLY
Director: Luc Besson                                            

Cast: Isabelle Adjani, Christophe Lambert, Michel Galabru

Representing the third most popular French film in France in 1986 and praised by The New York Times for its “highly energetic visual style”, Luc Besson’s Subway is a hilarious and relentlessly wild ride. Lambert won a César for ‘Best Actor’ for his starring role and Eric Serra, official music composer Besson’s films, was nominated for ‘Best Sound’ Award.

Having stolen some compromising documents from a shady businessman, Fred (Christophe Lambert), takes refuge in the Paris Metro. Here, he encounters a subterranean society of eccentric characters and petty criminals and develops a romance with a gangster’s young trophy wife, Héléna played by Adjani who, once again, proves herself as one of the most versatile actresses in European cinema. Good humour, superb music, fun plots and great acting make this movie a must see.


CAMILLE CLAUDEL (Camille Claudel) – 1988 (Drama) – RESTORED VERSION
Director: Bruno Nuytten                                                                   

Cast: Isabelle Adjani, Gérard Depardieu

Adjani hired Bruno Nuytten (with whom she shares a son) as director of this multi-award winning film.

Set at the beginning of the 1880s, Isabelle Adjani co-produces and stars in this sensual and impassioned biopic, recounting the story of Camille Claudel and her tumultuous relationship with sculptor Auguste Rodin (Gérard Depardieu). Earning five Césars and Adjani a nomination for ‘Best Actress’ at the Academy Awards, this is not a film about sculpture so much as one about an ambitious woman who is driven to insanity and imprisoned by the societal conventions of her time.

QUEEN MARGOT (La Reine Margot) – 1994 (Drama) – RESTORED VERSION
Director: Patrice Chéreau                                                                       

Cast: Isabelle Adjani, Daniel Auteuil

Queen Margot was Chéreau’s greatest success, having won the ‘Jury Prize’ at the 1994 Cannes Film Festival and five César Awards, including Adjani’s fourth ‘Best Actress’ Award. Rarely has history been brought to life in such an electrifying way.

It is 1572 and tensions between Catholics and Protestants are at an all-time high. A luminous Isabelle Adjani plays Marguerite de Valois, a Catholic woman forced to wed prominent Protestant Huguenot Henri of Navarre. This unleashes a complex series of events, culminating in the notorious St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre. Raging with unbridled passion, sex and violence, Queen Margot is a powerful and provocative film.

The Alliance Française Classic Film Festival schedule and tickets will be available from Tuesday 8 October at:

Dates and venues for the 2018 Alliance Française Classic Film Festival are:


Sunday 3 – Sunday 24 Nov

Palace Norton Street & Hayden Orpheum Picture Palace Cremorne


Sunday 10 – Sunday 24 Nov

The Astor Theatre


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