Arts Review

34th Alliance Française French Film Festival

The 34th Alliance Française French Film Festival

Palace Barracks and James Street Cinemas

15th March-12th April 2023


Dr Gemma Regan


Oo La La, the Fabulous 34th Alliance Française French Film Festival is Finally Here!


The French are renowned for their flair for life, fizzy champagne, fabulous food and fantastic films. French films are unique,  some may not have a beginning, or even an end but is rare to ever see a boring French film. There will be nudity, gorgeous people, sex and it may be bizarre but rarely of poor quality. French filmmakers excel in their cinematography producing breathtaking scenes and this year is no exception with Belle and Sebastian: The Next Generation; Notre Dame on Fire; On the Wandering Paths; and the classic Luc Besson’s 1988 drama, The Big Blue.


Filmmaking is a massive industry and a main export from France, producing over 300 films a year with over a quarter of them directed by women, more than double the number in Hollywood! The 34th Alliance Française French Film Festival has something to suit every taste with most genres covered amongst 39 films screening this year at the Palace Barracks and Palace James St Cinemas in Brisbane from March 15th-12th April 2003. 


The Alliance Française French Film Festival is held annually across Australia as the largest French film festival outside of France. 153,000 people attended the festival last year with the two Palace cinemas in Brisbane fired up for you to fraternise with the French. The 39 films are screened during the day and evening at both Palace cinemas enabling you to relax in the cinema French-style with a glass of wine and some nibbles from the bar. Every film is subtitled in English for the non-French speaker and within seconds you forget you are watching a foreign language film. 


If you would like to brush up on your French for next year’s festival, Alliance Française also offer lessons for every level with 27 centres in Australia. They have a worldwide network of 834 centres that promote France and its unique and envied culture.


The Australian premiere of Mascarade (Masquerade) for the Opening Night Gala was packed and the Champagne Lanson 1760 was free flowing, provided by the valued sponsors of the festival. There was an eclectic mix of French residents, students and devotees to French film and the French live music in the foyer of the Palace Barracks cinema had customers dancing and partying with joie de vivre. 


Mascarade is one of the 39 festival films selected by the exuberant Karine Mauris, the Cultural Attachée of the French Embassy and the Artistic Director of the Alliance Française French Film Festival. Chosen after her watching over 100 French films within a couple of months and attending the 2022 Cannes Film Festival. This woman knows her French films and she has selected some corkers!  


Mascarade was an official selection of the 2022 Cannes Film Festival, directed by the brilliant Nicolas Bedos.  It is set on the beautiful Côte d’Azur and is a mystery, drama, romance, thriller and drama all rolled into one tasty patisserie. The two protagonists Adrien (Pierre Niney, Black Box, AFF 2021) and Margot (Marine Vacth, If You Saw His Heart, FFF2018) are cut from the same cloth, beautiful and insecure, yet eager to marry an older partner to gain their wealth and status. 


After a salubrious tête-à-tête they team up to take two unwitting rich consorts, the widowed rich actress Martha (Isabelle Adjani, The World is Yours, AFF 2019) and the suave, happily married realtor, Simon (François Cluzet, The Kitchen Brigade, FFF2018). Conspiracies abound and and as always in French movies the plot is inscrutable to the final curtain. It is definitely one to see with many screenings in both cinemas.


Another strong recommendation by Mauris and also myself is the bizarre and quirky zombie movie Coupez! (Final Cut), directed by the Oscar winner Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist). At a media preview viewing Mauris had warned us that we were going to be confused and may want to leave the cinema, but that she was going to lock us in and after 30 minutes it would all make sense. How right she was! 


You are confronted with an onslaught of comical violence, missed cues and bad acting, pretty much any film student’s movie. But is is so worth it! The one and a half hours is a joy-ride of comedy, chaos and calamities with gore to rival Wes Craven. It is a film you will never forget and is so well contrived that it is unique! An absolute MUST SEE!


There are also special event showings which include a complimentary alcoholic drink and a delicious French food box prepared by sponsors Banette, who have French bakeries at the West End and Rosalie. The animated film The Black Pharaoh, The Savage and The Princess has a special screening on the 21st March at Palace St James to celebrate Harmony Day. The iconic 1988 Luc Besson’s Le Grand Bleu (The Big Blue) is a retro-cult classic selling more than a million tickets in France alone is also part of the festival with a special event screening at the Palace Barracks on the 22nd March. 


Arrête Avec Les Mensonges (Lie With Me), directed by Olivier Peyon has a special screening with food, drink and entertainment for AF PRIDE week on the 28th March at Palace James St. If you are a foodie with a sweet tooth a giant chocolate sculpture to be eaten will be in the foyer of A Taste of France at the special screening of À La Belle Étoile (Sugar and Stars) on Sunday the 19th March.


The Closing Night at the Palace Barracks is the Australian Premiere of the bittersweet comedy-drama En Roue Libre (Freestyle) on April 12th served with an alcoholic drink and a food box. It is a heartwarming romantic tale with an anxious Louise (Marina Foïs, Savages, AFF 2021) trapped in her car by a paralysing fear until she is confronted by Paul (Benjamin Voisin, Man Up, AFF 2021), a car thief who unwillingly takes her on a road trip as he makes his getaway. An unlikely evolving romance transforms both of their lives as Paul drives them both in a chaotic journey to the South-West Coast.


This is only an annual event so get online at to see one or many of the 39 movies, and grab the opportunity this month to experience the fabulous uniqueness of French film at the Alliance Française 34th French Film Festival


Vive le Cinema Français!



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