As a lover of all things French (OK, maybe not so crazy about the snails and frog’s legs), the sound of spoken French is like music to my ears. It’s just the most beautiful language in the world and I could listen to it all day. Brisbane is about as far removed from Paris as you can get, and unfortunately there isn’t a French quarter where you can just hang out and hear the language being spoken. So every year I flock to the Alliance Francaise French Film Festival to get my booster shot of vitamin F.
Held over 8 weeks across 8 cities, this is the biggest film festival on the Australian cultural calendar. It’s also the largest festival of French films outside of France. The annual line-up includes a collection of carefully curated contemporary French films from a variety of genres so there’s something for everyone. There are also opening night galas and special film screenings.
With so many great films on offer, it can be hard to decide which one (or ones in my case) to watch. I tend to gravitate towards feature films, comedies, films about food, and of course, anything starring the wonderful Omar Sy (of The Intouchables fame – if you haven’t seen this film, I can’t recommend it highly enough. It’s simply incredible and remains one of my all-time favourite films). Well, this year’s festival includes Samba, the latest offering from the directors of The Intouchables starring Omar Sy and Charlotte Gainsbourg. Samba is a Senegalese hotel dishwasher who aspires to become a chef. Having lived in France illegally for 10 years, he is finally offered the opportunity to begin his training as a chef but an administrative error results in him being ordered to leave France. With the help of his immigration case worker (Gainsbourg), Samba tries desperately to stay in France. I won’t give the ending away but I really loved this movie – it was charming, funny and gave me a glimpse of the harsh reality of life faced by illegal immigrants.
Other movies I plan to check out include Gemma Bovery, Girlhood, and Saint Laurent. For the full line-up, head to www.affrenchfilmfestival.org/schedule. Which ones have you seen or would like to see?
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