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French film festival makes surprise comeback

by Bernard O'Shea

Great news for those who want to lap up some French scenery and culture – the French Film Festival, Australia’s biggest foreign language film festival, will resume on Bastille Day, July 14th, having had to halt abruptly in March when cinemas were closed under the COVID-19 preventative measures. It will run for three weeks until August 4 .

While it will now be a pared down version of what was originally envisaged, there is a lot to look forward to: 28 films will feature in seven cities: Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra, Adelaide, Perth and Byron Bay. The original program had 49 films/documentaries and two TV shows screening in eight cities and four “satellite locations”.


The opening night film will be the fabulous La Belle Époque, which I saw earlier this year and highly recommend – more info here.  I will try to see as much as I can, so look out for coverage of films on the French film page of My Five Romances.

The cute picture up top is from Donne-Moi Des Ailes (Spread Your Wings), which is one of the films that will be screened. It’s about a teenager who is addicted to video games and is banished by his exasperated mother to the beautiful wetlands in Camargue. There, with no wi-fi to feed his addiction, he starts to bond with his father, an ornithologist who is has a preposterous plan to train a gaggle of newborn geese to adopt a safer route for their first migratory flight to Norway. And someone has to lead them from the front on a microlight!

What, where and when?

The festival is presented by the Alliance Française Australie, which has 30 centres around Australia, in association with the Embassy of France in Canberra, Unifrance films and Palace Cinemas.  Look out for screening times on the festival’s official website.

Last year it drew a record 195,000 spectators (up 11,000 on the previous year), and for the 31st edition in 2020 it had grand plans: two more host cities – Ballarat and Bendigo in Victoria – were added to the line-up, and there were also sessions for Hobart, Parramatta and Avoca Beach. Hopefully, those venues will be involved again next year.

The Spanish film festival had to be cancelled this year – it was scheduled for April – but there’s a chance that the Italian festival might go ahead. We’ll keep you posted. M5R

Photo courtesy of the Alliance Française.

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