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:: Spotlight :: 2009 Alliance Francaise French Film Festival

By: Carmine Pascuzzi

PARIS 36 (Faubourg 36), the enchanting hit retro musical from director Christophe Barratier, whose Le Choristes won hearts and plaudits world-wide, has been selected to open the 20th annual Alliance Française French Film Festival, which will launch in Sydney on March 4, 2009. PARIS 36 will screen courtesy of Sony Pictures and tells the tale of a group of performers determined to keep their beloved theatre from closing, amidst the increasing turbulent days of Paris circa 1936.

The line-up for the 2009 Festival will feature as many as forty new films and documentaries and is proudly supported by Tefal, the acknowledged world-leader in non-stick cookware, who will once again be the event‘s major sponsor.

The intrinsically romantic lure of all things Gallic, saw this year’s Festival attract over 77,000 patrons to 433 sessions across the country. And with non-French viewers representing 82% of those 77,000 patrons, it would appear that Australia’s ‘grand affaire‘ with French culture will continue to be an affair to remember!

In 2008, Catherine Deneuve, the living embodiment of French cinema, visited Australia as the event’s guest-of-honour, and we look forward to confirming details of guests for the 2009 Festival in the weeks to come. And, as in previous years, France‘s foremost actors, including Vincent Cassel, Juliette Binoche, Jean Reno, Emmanuelle Béart, Ludivine Sagnier, Vincent Lindon, Jean-Pierre Darroussin, Charles Berling, Virginie Ledoyen, Laetitia Casta, Daniel Auteuil, André Dussolier, Miou-Miou, Patrick Timsit, Sandrine Bonnaire, Albert Dupontel, Jean Dujardin, Lambert Wilson, Chiara Mastroianni, Richard Berry and the inimitable Gérard Depardieu will weave their magic on audiences who will be able to savour their latest films at ten locations throughout the nation.

2009 Festival highlights include:

SUMMER HOURS (l‘Heure d’été)
Director: Olivier Assayas (Starring Juliette Binoche & Charles Berling)
Two brothers and a sister prepare to farewell their last links with childhood when their mother’s death leaves them with the painful task of relinquishing the family home and her personal belongings, including a valuable art collection.

PUBLIC ENEMY NUMBER ONE: PART 1 and PART 2 (L’ennemi public no. 1)
Director: Jean-François Richet (Starring Vincent Cassel & Ludivine Sagnier)
Spanning several decades, this gripping saga covered by two films, tells the true story of notorious French gangster, Jacques Mesrine, brilliantly portrayed by Vincent Cassel.

A CHRISTMAS STORY (Une conte de Noël)
Director: Arnaud Desplechin (Starring Catherine Deneuve & Jean-Paul Roussillon)
In the French provincial town of Roubaix, three generations of a gorgeously fractious dysfunctional family gather for Christmas in the knowledge that their mother has been struck by cancer which may or may not be cured by a bone marrow transplant. Bickering, past grudges and unforseen romantic complications make for a festive weekend with unpredictable results.

SHALL WE KISS: (Une baiser s’il vous plaît?)
Director: Emmanuel Mouret (Starring Virginie Ledoyen & Emmanuel Mouret)
Emilie, an attractive textile designer, visiting Nantes, accepts a ride with local man Gabriel and before long both are sharing dinner. But when Gabriel attempts a good night kiss, Emilie rebuffs him, explaining her reluctance with a story which unfolds about the trouble that ensued when two of her best friends succumbed to the age-old question, “Shall we kiss?”

Director: Fabien Onteniente (Starring Franck Dubosc, Emmanuelle Béart & Gérard Dépardieu)
Didier Travolta is an unemployed, forty-something disco fan that still lives at home and has a son whom he hasn’t seen for a while. When his wife threatens to withhold holiday custody of their son unless his prospects improve, Didier sets out to win a dance-contest with the grand prize of two free tickets to Australia. But many years have passed since his dancing heyday. Will disco rise again…?

Director: Robert Guédiguian (Starring Ariane Ascaride & Jean-Pierre Darroussin)
Set in the gritty streets of Marseilles, a kidnapping forces three middle-aged friends to revisit their criminal past when a long-hidden act of violence comes back to haunt them.

FAMILY VALUES (Affaire de famille)
Director: Claus Drexel (Starring André Dussollier & Miou-Miou)
A look at the violent consequences faced by a middle-class family, as seen from three different points of view

LOVE ME NO MORE (Deux jours à tuer)
Director: Jean Becker (Starring Albert Dupontel, Marie-Josée Croze & Pierre Vaneck)
On the eve of his 42nd birthday, Antoine, an advertising executive, subjects his wife, children, friends, co-workers, and complete strangers to a brutal honesty that leaves the recipients shocked to their core. But things are not what they seem, in this latest film from renowned director Jean Becker.

THE GREAT ALIBI (Le grand alibi)
Director: Pascal Bonitzer (Starring Miou-Miou, Lambert Wilson & Valeria Bruni Tedeschi)
Every weekend, Senator Henri Pagès and his wife entertain guests at their beautiful country mansion. But when one of their guests, a renowned psychoanalyst and consummate womanizer, is brutally murdered, his wife, discovered by his corpse, with a smoking gun still in her hand, would appear to be the ideal culprit…or is she?

National Dates for the 2009 Alliance Française French Film Festival are:
Sydney : March 4 - 19 - Palace Academy, Palace Verona & Palace Norton Street
Melbourne : March 5 - 20 - Palace Como, Palace Balwyn, Palace Westgarth & Kino Cinemas
Canberra : March 18 - 29 - Greater Union Manuka
Brisbane : March 19 - 29 - Palace Centro
Adelaide : March 26 - April 5 - Palace Nova Eastend
Perth : March 25 - April 5 - Cinema Paradiso

The official 2009 Festival website is here

For more information, visit