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:: Spotlight :: 2008 Alliance Française French Film Festival

By: Carmine Pascuzzi

Now in its 19th year, the annual Alliance Française French Film Festival will feature a staggering 38 films within its 2008 program, encompassing 34 feature films and 4 documentaries, 36 of which will be making their Australian premiere. 2008 also marks the first time that Tefal, the world-leader in non-stick cookware, will be the Festival’s major sponsor.

In 2007, the Festival attracted nearly 70,000 attendees who flocked to the event’s 333 sessions. The 2008 event, which features a greatly expanded program and more venues, looks set to break all previous attendance figures. And with almost 80% of the 2007 audience consisting of Australian viewers, it proves that French cinema has an appeal that reaches far beyond that country’s local community.

Boasting the ‘crème de la crème’ of contemporary French cinema and France’s finest actors, including Catherine Deneuve, Sophie Marceau, Patrick Bruel, Cécile de France, Daniel Auteuil, Thierry Lhermitte, Albert Dupontel, Isabelle Carré, Sergi Lopez, Beatrice Dalle, Sandrine Bonnaire, Vincent Lindon, Nathalie Baye, Christian Clavier and Catherine Frot, the Festival will be launched by a gala screening of director Cedric Klapisch’s new drama, PARIS, starring Romain Duris and Juliette Binoche, the mesmerizing tale of a man who rediscovers the joy of life’s minutiae when faced with sudden illness, screening courtesy of Icon Film Distribution.

Additional Festival highlights include:

A SECRET (Un Secret)
Based on Philippe Grimbert’s fact-inspired novel, and starring Cécile de France and and Patrick Bruel, a middle-aged man looks back on his childhood and uncovers his parents‘ long-buried secret which blighted his formative years.

ANNA M
Isabelle Carré takes centre stage in this compelling drama which follows a young woman’s descent into romantic obsession.

MOLIÈRE
A rollicking period extravaganza starring Romain Duris as Molière, France’s most revered playwright, which looks at a little-known incident in his youth which may have been the inspiration for his beloved comedy, Tartuffe.

WATER LILIES (Naissance des Pieuvres)
A coming-of-age story that centres upon a group of young girls who embark on a game of emotional chess.

THE SECRET OF THE GRAIN (La graine et le mulet)
One of the most critically acclaimed French films of the year, and winner of the prestigious Louis Delluc prize, THE SECRET OF THE GRAIN is a story about dignity, self-sacrifice and family love, within a Franco-Arab family whose patriarch is haunted by an ongoing sense of displacement.

COULD THIS BE LOVE? (Je crois que je l’aime)
Wealthy and powerful Lucas (Vincent Lindon) meets his romantic Waterloo when he falls for Elsa (Sandrine Bonnaire) an outspoken artist. But as his previous girlfriend was exposed as a spy for a business rival, he finds himself unable to trust his new love, so has her secretly placed under 24 hour surveillance with unexpected results!

THE DINNER GUEST (L’invité)
A sparkling comedy starring Daniel Auteuil as an unemployed man who seeks the help of his overbearing neighbor to secure a new job hinges that upon impressing his boss-to-be with a stylish dinner party.

AFTER HIM (Après lui)
Screen legend Catherine Deneuve portrays a mother who becomes obsessed with her son’s best friend, following her boy’s death in a motor accident.

PRINCESS OF THE SUN (La reine soleil)
A animated delight, PRINCESS OF THE SUN takes place in ancient Egypt where we follow the adventures of Akhesa, a ravishing 14 year-old princess determined to discover why her mother, Queen Nefertiti has been exiled.


National Dates for the 2008 Alliance Française French Film Festival are:

Sydney - March 5-19 - Palace Academy, Palace Verona & Palace Norton Street
Melbourne - March 6-19 - Palace Como, Palace Balwyn & Palace Westgarth
Canberra - March 20-30 - Greater Union Manuka
Brisbane - March 20-30 - Palace Centro
Adelaide - March 27 - April 6 - Palace Nova Eastend
Perth - March 27 - April 6 - Cinema Paradiso

For all ticket information, please visit the official website

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**Catherine Deneuve to visit Australia for festival**

Catherine Deneuve, will visit Australia in mid-March as a guest of the 2008 Alliance Française French Film Festival. Internationally famous for her artistry, beauty and cinematic collaborations with some of the world’s greatest directors, Ms. Deneuve will visit Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra to introduce select Festival screenings of her latest film, AFTER HIM (Après Lui), directed by Gaël Morel and co-written by Christophe Honoré, and will also be guest-of-honour at the opening of the Festival in Canberra on March 20.

In one of her most expressive roles in years, she stars as Camille, a distraught mother, whose life is turned upside down when her twenty year-old son is killed in an accident. She then develops an obsessive interest in her late child’s best friend (the stunning Thomas Dumerchez), who slowly realizes that her attraction for him poses a threat. Selected for Director’s Fortnight at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival, this moving drama is one of the highlights of the 2008 Festival.

Catapulted into the A-list of French cinema by her unforgettable performance in THE UMBRELLAS OF CHERBOURG (winner of the Palme d'Or at the 1964 Cannes Film Festival), Catherine Deneuve has, since that time, captivated the world of cinema. Eighty roles performed around the globe, with filmdom’s greatest directors, have sculpted her character without ever exhausting its mystery. The preferred actress of Jacques Demy and André Techiné, her career has been punctuated by roles which have been especially created for her by filmmakers such as Luis Buñuel (with whom she made the classic BELLE DE JOUR), Roman Polanski, Marco Ferreri, Claude Lelouch, and François Truffaut, who directed her in THE LAST METRO, for which she received the Caesar, (France’s equivalent to the Oscar) for Best Actress. Director Regis Wargnier’s sweeping drama, INDOCHINE, saw her honoured with a second Caesar Award for Best Actress.

She has also worked with François Ozon (8 WOMEN), Manoel de Oliveira (I’M GOING HOME) and with Lars von Trier for DANCER IN THE DARK, which won the Palme d'Or at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival. Additionally, Ms Deneuve is a sough-after jury member at international films festivals: she co-chaired the jury of the 1994 Cannes Film Festival with Clint Eastwood and was jury head at the 2006 Venice Film Festival.

“We are incredibly honoured that an actor of Ms. Deneuve’s stature will be a guest of our Festival,” said Bruno Duparc, General Delegate of the Alliance Française in Australia. “Ms. Deneuve is the most outstanding ambassador we could possibly hope to have. She is French cinema!”

For more information, visit

www.frenchfilmfestival.org