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Event Series Event Series: 22nd Annual French Film Festival

22nd Annual French Film Festival

Presented by Alliance Française of Armidale Inc. Experience the best of French cinema with a selection of films across 3 days!

10 May, 5.30pm – Opening Night (optional drinks in the foyer)

10 May, 6.30pm – Bonnard, Pierre & Marthe – Vincent Macaigne and Cecile de France enrapture in Bonnard, Pierre & Marthe, the beautiful and transporting new historical drama from multi award-winning director Martin Provost (Séraphine, The Midwife) about the turbulent love story between the famous post-Impressionist painter and his lesser-known – but highly influential – wife.1893. When aspiring French painter Pierre Bonnard (Macaigne) – a protégé of Claude Monet – meets Marthe de Méligny (de France), he has no idea that this self-proclaimed aristocrat will become the cornerstone of his life and work. From this moment, though she appears in over a third of his work, she’s more than just a muse; together over five decades, the couple will explore creative fulfillment, love and jealousies that challenge the standards of the time, as the film interrogates the great mystery around their relationship. Provost’s vision for this material is clear and concise; what may appear as a traditional account of its subjects soon moves beyond conventions and evolves into something much more resonant and profound.

11 May, 11.25am – Abbé Pierre: a Century of Devotion –  Featuring a revelatory performance from Benjamin Lavernhe (Delicious’, ‘C’est la vie!), writer/director Frédéric Tellier’s sweeping and deeply-affecting new historical epic charts the extraordinary life of the titular priest and humanist (1912-2007) who, throughout a tumultuous span of modern history, advocated for those most in need whilst frequently placing himself in peril and at risk of ostracisation from the church. Born in Lyon, the fifth of eight Catholic children, Henri Grouès (Lavernhe) plans to join the monastery, only for WWII to intervene. Learning of the persecution of Jews and patriots, he joins the French Resistance to help those fleeing oppression by the Gestapo, himself forced to use several false identities to avoid capture. As “Abbé Pierre”, by which he will then be known, Henri is exposed to the devastation of war, but also bears witness to the compassion and strength of brotherhood and the liberation of Paris; he emerges from the maelstrom a changed man. Accompanied by his Resistance ally and confidante Lucie Coutaz (an excellent Emmanuelle Bercot), Abbé Pierre is destined to live many lives and face multiple battles: as a revolutionary, a state representative, the founder of the Emmaus network of housing shelters and a national icon, but always answerable to history and his fellow man. A major word-of-mouth sensation and box office success in France in late 2023, Tellier’s grand, big-budget production features a stirring soundtrack by The National’s Bryce Dessner, but is truly elevated by the remarkable Lavernhe, who is widely tipped for César recognition for his stellar performance. Spanning 70 years of recent history, ABBÉ PIERRE is an uplifting and memorable drama that – in capturing the feelings, doubts and contradictions of an inspirational man – speaks eloquently to the concerns of our current era.

11 May, 2.30pmA Difficult Year – The wildly entertaining new comedy from irrepressible filmmaking duo Éric Toledano and Olivier Nakache (The Intouchables, C’est la vie!), A Difficult Year stars Pio Marmaï and Jonathan Cohen as two compulsive spenders who get much more than they bargained for when they try and scam their way out of trouble. Both in debt up to their necks, Albert (Marmai) and Bruno (Cohen) have turned to a community worker (Mathieu Amalric) to try and help get a grip on their lives. However at one of their group sessions, they stumble into an adjoining meeting room hosting a gathering of young social activists, led by a vivacious organiser (the fabulous Noémie Merlant).Attracted more by the free beer and chips than the group’s struggle against consumerism and protection of the environment (whilst acknowledging the hugs are quite nice), Albert and Bruno join the movement without any particular conviction, but soon sense an opportunity… if they don’t get arrested first. Expertly poking fun at their characters while simultaneously honouring them, A Difficult Year delivers both laughs and pathos in spades, thanks to the directors’ ongoing faith in humanity’s desire to change. With of-the-moment resonances to Australia’s social and ‘cozzie livs’ concerns, it’s a must-see entertainment.

11 May, 7.25pm – Jeanne Du Barry – The lavish new historical drama from writer/director Maïwenn (Mon Rois, Polisse), Jeanne Du Barry is freely inspired by the life of the titular rags-to-riches social climber, a working-class woman who became the mistress of King Louis XV, played with taciturn command by Johnny Depp in his first French-language speaking role. 18th Century, pre-Revolution France. Jeanne Bécu (Maïwenn), the illegitimate daughter of a monk, hungers for culture and pleasure, and is determined to escape her commoner upbringing. With charm and sharp wit, she builds a reputation as a skilled courtesan and her benefactor, the Comte du Barry (Melvil Poupaud) grows rich through her amorous encounters. Wishing to present her to the widowed King (Depp), a renowned womaniser, the Comte orchestrates a meeting through the influential Duke of Richelieu (Pierre Richard).For Jeanne and Louis, it’s intoxication at first sight; soon the King, rediscovering his appetite for life, anoints her as his new favourite. Unapologetically ignoring propriety and etiquette, with the help of his valet La Borde (a scene-stealing Benjamin Lavernhe), Louis moves her into his Versailles palace, sparking both derision and scandal… and jeopardising relations with the newly-arrived Marie Antoinette (Pauline Pollmann), the Austrian queen-in-waiting… Finding mordant delight in the intrigues and rituals of high court life, Jeanne Du Barry is a visual feast – sumptuously filmed in 35mm on location at Versailles and featuring majestic costumes and production design. In tracing a passionate woman, guilty only of trying to rise above her station, Maïwenn delivers an exuberant and sensitive portrait of class, ambition and both the rewards and risks of living in the public eye.

12 May, 11.25am – The Three Musketeers: D’Artagnan – Alexandre Dumas’s thrilling and beloved classic novel The Three Musketeers has spawned multiple adaptations since its publication in 1844, but none have approached the scope and spectacle of this wildly entertaining, blockbuster two-film production from director Martin Bourboulon, who assembles an all-star cast for the first French cinematic treatment in over 30 years. Set in the early 17th century kingdom of France, the opening instalment D’ARTAGNAN follows a spirited young swordsman, Charles D’Artagnan (François Civil), on his journey from Gascony to Paris to join the King’s elite Musketeers of the Guard. Along the way, he narrowly escapes death whilst heroically saving a woman from being kidnapped. In his efforts to enlist, D’Artagnan manages to offend the sensibilities of three of the most formidable Musketeers in the ranks, Athos (Vincent Cassel), Porthos (Pio Marmaï) and Aramis (Romain Duris)…But D’Artagnan soon wins them over, and his dedication to help his newfound friends and serve King Louis XIII (Louis Garrel) will lead him not only into the path of the mysterious Milady de Winter (Eva Green) and the Queen’s consort Constance (Lyna Khoudri), but the heart of a conspiracy where the future of the nation itself is at stake…France’s biggest box-office success of 2023, Bourboulon’s magnificent production – lavishly produced with a budget of over €70 million – is both respectful of its source but enriched with contemporary touches; the film is chock-full of humour, romance, palace intrigue and pulse-pounding action. The Three Musketeers: D’Artagnan unquestionably delivers as a smart and hugely-involving big-screen experience for all ages. Audiences are assured of lining up for the thrilling conclusion, MILADY, within moments of the end credits.

12 May, 2.10pm – Out Of Season – Two of contemporary European cinema’s brightest stars – Guillaume Canet and Alba Rohrwacher – are electric together in award-winning writer/director Stéphane Brizé’s achingly tender and charming new romance about two former lovers who unexpectedly cross paths in a sleepy holiday town. It’s winter. Approaching his 50th birthday, successful screen actor Mathieu (Canet) is facing a crisis of confidence; just weeks out from his much-anticipated stage debut, he has fled rehearsals to check into a luxury health spa on the Brittany coast, leaving both the play’s perplexed director and his wife back home in Paris. But being a major A-list celebrity, it’s impossible for Mathieu to lay low… recognised everywhere he goes, the hotel staff and fellow guests are both ecstatic and intrigued about his presence, and the requests for selfies never end. Then suddenly, Mathieu receives a text message from Alice (Rohrwacher), a woman he’d dated fifteen years prior, who’s heard he’s in town; she’s now a wife and mother who by chance lives nearby. They agree to meet for lunch, each evidently torn by the manner in which they parted… Beautifully written, Brizé’s elegant and wryly funny story of choices made and what might have been is distinguished by the exquisite chemistry of Rohrwacher and Canet, who deliver deeply-felt performances of subtlety and restraint. Drawing comparisons with such humanist and emotionally affecting works as David Lean’s ‘Brief Encounter’, Sofia Coppola’s ‘Lost In Translation’ and Celine Song’s recent ‘Past Lives’, Brizè’s intimate and affecting film is a delight from beginning to end.

12 May, 4.45pm – Iris and the Men – After the smash-hit international success of ‘Antoinette In The Cévennes’, writer/director Caroline Vignal and the fabulous Laure Calamy reunite for a comedy about reignited desire in the modern age. “They’re not”. This is how Iris (Calamy) answers her doctor when she is asked how things are going with her husband (Vincent Elbaz). The words slip from her mouth like a brutal realisation: how long has it been since they last made love? Yet everything else is great: her partner loves her, they have two happy daughters, she runs a successful medical practice, lives in a beautiful apartment and has the best friends one could hope for… But soon Iris will be turning 50. It is a stranger who whispers the seed of an idea: “Take a lover”. So she dares open Pandora’s box, and hesitantly registers herself on a dating app. Immediately, men start to appear, as if it were raining… So begins this cheeky, joyous and conversation-starting delight, in which Calamy completes her transformation from quirky character actress into unadulterated comedic star.

May 10
5:30 pm - 9:30 pm
$10.00 – $84.50
02 6772 2856
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02 6772 2856
Belgrave Twin Cinema
145 Dumaresq Street
ARMIDALE, NSW 2350 Australia
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