7 Films to see at the Alliance Française French Film Festival 2015

Wednesday 25 February 2015

7 Films to see at the Alliance Française French Film Festival 2015

A highlight on New Zealand’s film festival calendar, the Alliance Française French Film Festival returns for 2015. Screening at venues around the country from February 19 until April 29 (find out when the festival will be stopping off in your town here), it’s time to dust off your high school French and immerse yourself in the best of French cinema. With 40 films in the festival, this year’s programme is the biggest ever. Here are seven films we recommend booking in advance.

3 Hearts

Starring Charlotte Gainsbourg, one of the most talented and versatile actors of her generation, 3 Hearts is a story about falling in love and the cruelty of fate. Marc (Benoît Poelvoorde) meets Sylvie (Gainsbourg) one fateful evening after he misses his train back to Paris. They spend the night wandering the streets together and arrange to meet again at a specified time, without exchanging contact details. Unfortunately Marc misses their date and while searching for Sylvie he finds Sophie, not knowing that she is Sylvie’s sister. By the time fate brings Marc and Sylvie together again, it is too late. Gainsbourg also stars in the festival’s closing night film Samba, another recommended watch.



Beauty and the Beast

Director Christophe Gans brings new life to this classic fairy tale, with acclaimed young actor Lea Seydoux (Blue is the Warmest Colour) as Belle and Vincent Cassel as the Beast. This retelling is heavy on the special effects, bringing new thrill to the gothic romance and is as far from Disney as you can imagine. It is worth watching for the extravagant costumes and set design alone.



Eden

Set in the early days of French electronic music pioneers Daft Punk and Cassius, Eden is the semi-autobiographical tale revolving around aspiring DJ Paul – a character based on the director’s real life brother. With a storyline spanning two decades, we follow Paul’s introduction to garage music in 1992, through to his career as a full-time DJ: setting up club nights with his mates and travelling the world. With a Daft Punk-heavy soundtrack and cameos from French music legends La India and Tony Humphrey, Eden is as much a film for electronic music lovers as it is for those who need an introduction to the scene.



Handmade with Love in France

It seems every year the French Film festival features a new fashion documentary, and this year’s selection is Handmade with Love in France, a film that celebrates the Parisian artisans who create fabulous haute-couture outfits for the likes of Dior, Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent. Since the industrial revolution, the demand for these artisans have been dwindling and now there are only a few left. Handmade follows four of these craftsmen as they create their intricate pieces of clothing and accessories, and asks: what will happen to the art of fashion once they are all gone?



May Allah Bless France

Celebrated French rapper, author and spoken word artist Abd Al Malik makes his directorial debut with an adaptation of his 2004 autobiography of the same name, which chronicles his upbringing in the crime- and drug-ridden streets of Strasbourg and his discovery of hip-hop music and conversion to Islam. Shot in stark black and white by celebrated cinematographer Pierre Aïm (La Haine, Welcome to the Sticks), May Allah Bless France won the International Critics’ Award at the Toronto International Film Festival 2014.



Moomins on the Riviera

Originally released on the 100th anniversary of Tove Jansson’s birth, Moomins on the Riviera brings Jansson’s Moomin characters to the big screen in this hand-drawn Finnish-French production. The film follows the Moomins as they leave their peaceful homeland for the French Riveria, where (as it always does) adventure awaits. Dazzled by the bright lights of the lifestyle of high society, the unity of the Moomins is threatened in what is a cautionary tale about the trappings of materialism and being obsessed with image. This charming and meaningful film will resonate with the whole family.



The Bélier Family

Already being named as the next big French hit, The Bélier Family is about a deaf and mute farming family with a 17-year-old daughter who can not only hear and speak, but sing, beautifully. She joins the choir on a whim after seeing her crush do the same, and the singing teacher soon recognizes her talent. She is encouraged to attend a prestigious music school in Paris, far from home. Newcomer Louane Emera’s performance as the lovelorn teenager, struggling with the responsibility of acting as translator between her parents and the hearing world, is a standout.



You can see the full programme on their website: frenchfilmfestival.co.nz

Bon festival!