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ALLIANCE FRANCAISE FRENCH FILM FESTIVAL 2012 – LAUNCH

TWO KINDS OF WAR BOOKEND THE 23rd FESTIVAL
Opening night (March 6) at the 2012 Alliance Francaise French Film Festival (March 6 - April 9)– and the official French Oscar entry for 2012 – is Valérie Donzelli’s Declaration of War, a contempo drama about a young couple defiant in the face of a baby with brain tumour; the Fest will close with Francois Truffaut’s 1980 classic, The Last Metro, starring Gerard Depardieu and Catherine Deneuve.

Between the two films, the 23rd festival of French films promises some fascinating films, and not all about war. Love, of course, has a lot to do with it: Nobody Else But You, The Art of Love. Silence of Love, Romantics Anonymous, Goodbye First Love and a few more give the festival menu a solid section about man’s insatiable appetite for romance.

The Festival program was launched in Sydney in November at the Alliance Francaise HQ, with champagne and fois gras on the 13th floor, and a handsome presentation.

Urban Cinefile will publish a Preview of the festival in February; in the meantime, here is a selection from the program, which is presented in thematc sections: It Happened In Your Neighbourhood, It Must Be Love, The Power and The Passion, Beware Talent!, Happy Families, Sex Drugs and rock’n’roll, A French Touch Around the World, Not Only For Kids and A Life for the Arts.

LA GUERRE EST DÉCLARÉE (DECLARATION OF WAR)
DIRECTOR: Valérie Donzelli
CAST: Valérie Donzelli, Jérémie Elkaïm, César Desseix, Gabriel Elkaïm
Premiere at Critics Week, Cannes 2011
Based on real-life events experienced by filmmaker Valérie Donzelli and co-star/writer Jérémie Elkaïm, DECLARATION OF WAR tells the powerful story of a young Parisian couple suddenly dragged from their carefree existence by an unexpected twist of fate.

Beautiful Juliette (Valerie Donzelli) and dashing Romeo (Jérémie Elkaïm) are two insouciant souls whose electric first encounter and rapid storybook romance is quickly followed by the birth of a child. But their lives are transformed overnight when a visit to their pediatrician results in a shocking verdict: their infant son Adam has a brain tumour.

LE DERNIER MÉTRO (THE LAST METRO)
DIRECTOR: François Truffaut
CAST: Catherine Deneuve, Gérard Depardieu, Jean Poiret
Paris, 1942. Paris is under the Nazi occupation. Catherine Deneuve plays Marion Steiner who is left to manage a small theatre company, the Montmartre, when her Jewish husband Lucas is forced into exile under the German occupation of Paris. Marion stars in the company’s new play, The Disappearance, alongside Bernard Granger (Gérard Depardieu), a womanizing, but talented actor who is also a member of the Resistance. As Bernard’s passion for Marion grows, emotional complications arise.

A BOUT PORTANT (POINT BLANK) 2010
DIRECTOR: Fred Cayavé
CAST: Gilles Lellouche, Roschdy Zem, Gérard Lanvin, Elena Anaya
If he wants to see his wife and unborn child again, Samuel has got to act fast. When Nadia (Elena Anaya) is kidnapped before his very eyes from their apartment one night, Samuel, a nurse-in-training whose career is on the up, finds himself entangled in a web of violent chaos. The fate of his wife becomes linked to that of a most-wanted criminal, Sartet, whose life Samuel saved only hours earlier.

PRÉSUMÉ COUPABLE (PRESUMED GUILTY)
DIRECTOR: Vincent Garenq
CAST: Phillippe Torreton, Noémie Lvovsky, Wladimir Yordanoff, Raphaël Ferret
In this chillingly raw account of one of France’s most famous miscarriages of justice, writer-director Vincent Garenq (Baby Love) tells the true story of Alain Marécaux, an average family man from a small village in the north of France who, along with 17 other people, was wrongly accused and jailed for paedophilia in 2001.

POUPOUPIDOU (NOBODY ELSE BUT YOU)
DIRECTOR: Gérald Hustache-Mathieu
CAST: Jean-Paul Rouve, Sophie Quinton, Guillaume Gouix
Rousseau is a bestselling crime novelist from Paris. Candice Lecoeur thinks she is the reincarnation of Marilyn Monroe. The two will meet but only after Candice has been found dead. Cause of death: suicide by sleeping pills. But Rousseau is the only one who doesn’t buy it.

LES NEIGES DU KILIMANDJARO (THE SNOWS OF KILIMANJARO) 2011
DIRECTOR: Robert Guédiguian
CAST: Ariane Ascaride, Jean-Pierre Darroussin, Gérard Meylan, Marilyne Canto
Premiere at Un Certain Regard, Cannes 2011
Michel and Marie-Claire lead a happy life. They have been in love for over thirty years, have a devoted family, a close circle of friends and although Michel has just lost his job on the docks, they remain content. In fact, they have an anniversary looming and host a gathering with all of their friends who surprised them with a gift of money and tickets for an African safari.

But their lives are changed in an instant when two masked men break into their home, beat them, tie them up, take their credit cards and demand the money they received at the party, revealing that the culprit is someone they know. Shockingly, Michel discovers that Christophe, a young dockie who was retrenched around the same time, is the perpetrator and that this was a brutal act of revenge.

LA CONQUÊTE (THE CONQUEST)
DIRECTOR: Xavier Durringer
CAST: Denis Podalydès, Florence Pernel, Bernard Le Coq, Hippolyte Girardot
This part fictional, part factual biopic gives an account of the rise of President Nicolas Sarkozy to power. The film opens on the night of Sarkozy’s election victory,
6 May 2007.

Flashing back and forth between Sarkozy’s victory and his five years of struggle leading up to this point, Durringer divides the film into two strands. One involves the breakdown of his marriage to Cécilia (Florence Pernel), who has grown to despise politics subsequently becoming distraught by the state of their lives, which she compares to a reality television show. The second strand reveals his struggle for respect within the Union for a Popular Movement as he is competing with power-hungry peers.

LA FILLE DU PUISATIER (THE WELL-DIGGER’S DAUGHTER) 2011
DIRECTOR: Daniel Auteuil
CAST: Daniel Auteuil, Kad Merad, Sabine Azéma, Jean-Pierre Darroussin,
Astrid Berges-Frisbey, Nicolas Duvauchelle.
Daniel Auteuil makes his directing debut with this remake of Marcel Pagnol’s 1940 film of the same name.

It’s the beginning of the Second World War. Patricia (newcomer Astrid
Berges-Frisbey) is young, beautiful and the apple of her adoring father’s eye. A chance encounter with Jacques Mazel (Nicolas Duvauchelle), a seductive and handsome pilot from a bourgeois family, leads to a fleeting romance. They meet but twice. No sooner have the pair fallen in love, Jacques is sent off to fight in the war, leaving Patricia behind – and pregnant.

TU SERAS MON FILS (YOU WILL BE MY SON)
DIRECTOR: Gilles Legrand
CAST: Niels Arestrup, Lorànt Deutsch, Patrick Chesnais, Nicolas Bridet
We do not choose our parents, nor our children!
Niels Arestrup is cast as Paul de Marseul, the owner of a presitigious château and winery in Saint-Émilion, who is dismayed at the prospect of his bookish son, Martin (Lorànt Deutsch) taking on the family vineyard. Winemaking requires creativity, persistence, and technical know-how matched with an equal amount of passion for the job. Frankly, Martin just hasn’t turned out to be the son Paul dreamed of. When he discovers a suitable successor in Philippe (Nicolas Bridet), the son of his steward François (Patrick Chesnais), Paul feels his prayers have been answered. He showers Philippe with attention and praise, neglecting his own son. But an unexpected
tragedy occurs.


RIEN À DÉCLARER (NOTHING TO DECLARE)
DIRECTOR: Dany Boon
CAST: Dany Boon, Benoît Poelvoorde, Julie Bernard, Karin Viard
French/Belgian Co-Production
In Courquoin, a Franco-Belgian border village during the 1993 elimination of the Franco-Belgian borders, fiercely nationalistic Belgian customs officer Ruben Vandevoorde (Benoît Poelvoorde) detests all things French and is utterly dismayed when made to join a flying Franco-Belgian customs squad formed to combat a major drug trafficking ring.

On the other side of the border, Ruben’s mild-mannered French counterpart, Mathias Ducatel (Dany Boon) is secretly in love with Ruben’s sister whom he dreams of marrying. Determined to win the respect of her controlling brother, Mathias surprises everyone when he volunteers to partner Ruben in his quest to hunt-down the drug traffickers, and in so doing, gain his consent to marry his sister. But whether Ruben’s ingrained bigotry can be swayed, remains to be seen!

Published December 15, 2011

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Declaration of War

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PERTH: 21 March - 9 April


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