Offering a glorious respite from the challenges facing the world, the Alliance Française French Film Festival 2021 is an invitation to take “a journey to France” as it celebrates love and strong women.
Having begun in early March and running to Sunday 4 April for its luminous 32nd season, the Festival’s 37-film program offers cinephiles a breath of fresh air through a joyous celebration of French culture.
Since the festival commenced on 4 March, the program has been well received by Canberrans, with a number of screenings selling out.
With the 2021 festival being the first for Karine Mauris as artistic director, she said it was a “big challenge” for her to select the 37-film program.
“The way I was thinking was that for the moment I would like to propose ‘a journey to France’, because I know it’s impossible to travel right now,” she said.
Featuring a rich array of genres and even countries of origin – with films also produced in Tunisia, Syria, Canada and Belgium – the program sets out “to show France as she is now, in all her diversity”.
Another multicultural film in the program depicting modern France’s diversity is Canadian/French biopic, Aline.
Inspired by the extraordinary life of globally renowned Quebecker singing sensation Céline Dion, Aline tells the story of a 1980s teenager who, coming from humble beginnings, sees her powerful voice propel her onto the world stage to become an international pop sensation.
The movie covers Dion’s music, her life to date, and her love for her recently deceased husband; and is a celebration of French language, French music and strong women.
“When we present a French movie, it’s not always about romance and love,” Ms Mauris said. “I love to take people and bring them to places they’ve never gone before. It’s to give your emotions a journey and to surprise you, too. I want people to see something different also.”
Opening night of the festival featured a world premiere of the highly anticipated Eiffel, an inspiring, captivating tale about one of France’s most iconic structures, centred on the love story between engineer Gustav Eiffel and a woman from his past, Adrienne Bourgès.
Scheduled to premiere in France in May, Eiffel was made over four years and is set amidst the backdrop of the famous tower’s conception and construction during Paris’s Belle Époque ahead of the 1900 World Fair.
Alongside the opening night world premiere of Eiffel, the festival has premiered eight other films.
“It’s not often we have a world premiere, but because of Covid they have been postponed in France,” Ms Mauris said.
“Also, because of the Australian public, filmmakers know that if their movie works in Australia, it will work in the rest of the world.”
French cinema has long been revered, having influenced generations of filmmakers across the world. Known for their distinct form of storytelling, uniquely-drawn characters and use of obscure filmmaking techniques, Ms Mauris said French cinema stands out from the rest.
“They give us positivity and discover something new. Compared to blockbuster American movies, our characters are not superheroes, they are more magnificent losers,” she said.
“They are so different than what we see in the blockbusters; they lie, they are sometimes not beautiful, but the French people love them, and they present them with so much tenderness and no judgement, and I love that.”
With the 2021 festival being the 32nd in Australia, Ms Mauris said French cinema has long resonated with Australian audiences.
“I know that Australians love France, they love romance and are also very interested in the lifestyle in France, the joie de vivre,” she said.
The Alliance Française French Film Festival 2021 is on now at Palace Electric Cinema, New Acton, until 4 April; affrenchfilmfestival.org
This article was created in partnership with Alliance Française. For more information on sponsored partnerships, click here.