The first two months of any film year is dominated by awards talk.  It’s a chance to celebrate / argue about the best films of the year.  Studios tend to release very few big releases at this time of the year also.  They’re saving up for the American summer.


We’re now in March, the Oscars are over and it’s time to move on.  The first big film festival of 2010 is about to start – the Alliance Française French Film Festival.  It kicks off on March 17 (this Wednesday) and runs for two weeks.


I love my French cinema.  Some of my favourite French films over the past decade include Persepolis, The Diving Bell & The Butterfly, The Class, Amelie, The Spanish Apartment, Russian Dolls, The Triplets Of Belleville and The Man On The Train.


I even tried taking a few French classes back in 2003.  I only lasted a few weeks but I deserve a pat on the back anyway (at least I tried).  And of all the places I’ve been in the world, Paris is still my favourite city.  Here’s a few snapshots from when I was there in 2004 including me outside the Musee du Cinema (trying to re-enact the famous 1968 student riots illustrated in The Dreamers).


Matt In Paris
Matt In Paris

Anyway, back to this year’s festival.  It’s now in its 21st year here in Australia and there are a whopping 43 movies being screened.  For most, this will be the only chance you’ll get to see them in Australia.  A handful will get a limited cinema release down the track but the others will not (as it’s not profitable to do so).


Here in Brisbane, the festival is spread across the Palace Centro and Palace Barracks (two excellent venues).  Ticket prices are $16 for adults and $14 for most concessions.  You can get small discounts by buying a 5 or 10 film pass.  A few films are a little more expensive (because they include drinks and/or entertainment).  You can get the full list of films on the website (which details on how to book) at


To make things a little easier, I’ve scoured through the program and have picked out the one film which interests me most from each night.  Below are the blurbs from the Festival website which tell you more about each film.  Hopefully there’s something to tickle your fancy.  If you’re tired of the same old films in your traditional multiplexes, he’s a chance to open your eyes to something new.


You can click on each title to find out more and view a few pictures.


Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Micmacs – 6:30pm Palace Centro ($50 including after party)


A thrilling comedy from the director of Amelie centring on a group of misfits as they plan to bring down two big arms manufacturers.  Bazil (Dany Boon) is a man down on his luck following an accident that's left a bullet lodged in his brain, with a good chance that he could die at any moment.  The story of his revenge is populated by a ragtag of characters with unique foibles and abilities.


Thursday, 18 March 2010

Legal Aid – 6:45pm Palace Centro


An honest young lawyer sees his life radically change when he meets a more experienced lawyer, who will 'educate' him.  But one day, Marsac spills the beans: he didn't take Lahoud on for his legal skills, but because of his uncanny resemblance to one of his notorious clients, and that Marsac's interest in him is far from benevolent.


Friday, 19 March 2010

Anything For Her - 6:45pm Palace Centro


With a loving, stable marriage of many years, a devoted son and a quiet life in suburban France, life feels supremely happy for Julien and Lisa. Then one morning, police burst in and inexplicably arrest Lisa for a murder she appears to have no knowledge about. Unwilling to endure the time it will take to sort through French bureaucracy and reeling in turmoil, Julien resorts to a desperate plan of action...


Saturday, 20 March 2010

LOL – 8:45pm Palace Barracks


In text messaging, LOL means "Laughing Out Loud", but here it's also the nickname of 14-year-old Lola, who is returning to school after summer break. It's no laughing matter for her though when her boyfriend reveals that he has cheated on her over summer, leading her to hesitantly move on to his best friend Mael. Meanwhile her divorced mother Anne is secretly again seeing her father. In a world of virtual communication, faceless technologies, and oblivious parents, LOL is a tongue-in-cheek take on female self-perception and relationships.


Sunday, 21 March 2010

I’m Glad My Mother Is Alive – 8:00pm Palace Centro


Thomas is four years old when his teenage-mother gives him up, along with his infant half-brother, and the pair are adopted by a couple who wish to leave the boys' past well behind them. However, while his brother grows up with no desire to delve into his past, Thomas cannot let go. Unbeknownst to his adoptive parents, he tracks her down, firstly as an angry adolescent taken aback by what he finds – and later as a young adult.


Monday, 22 March 2010

No Pasaran – 6:30pm Palace Barracks


Maxence Lafourcade, a peaceful single man, raises pigs in the Pyrénées. His life takes a radical turn when he learns that a highway is going to cut through his farm. To confront the mayor and his project, he must join forces with the 'local American', Peter Konchelsky. This retired, cynical lawyer adopts the farmer's cause, while his stunned daughter, Scarlett, looks on. She's an eccentric artist, and in Maxence she discovers an unexpected human model.


Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Every Jack Has A Jill – 6:30pm Palace Barracks


Twenty-six-year old Chloé lives by herself in between an invasive neighbour, a petty-minded colleague and a preachy kind of employee at a DVD rental store. It is a life that doesn't live up to her expectations. And yet a random course of events changes her luck. One day she stumbles upon a suitcase of young American Jack, who has won a vacation to Paris. As Jack is trapped inside his hotel with no money, clothes or French-language skills, Chloé falls in love with his belongings and, feeling fate has brought them together, sets out on a search to find him...


Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Someone I Loved – 8:30pm Palace Barracks


Recently dumped by her cheating husband, Chloé and her two young daughters are spirited away to a remote cabin by her father-in-law, Pierre. Over the course of the night, Pierre shares an important secret with her. He reveals his illicit affair with a woman he met in Hong Kong 20 years ago, and for whom he didn't dare abandon everything, choosing instead a safer and more familiar path. Reflecting on his choice and its dramatic consequences, he attempts to help his daughter-in-law understand and overcome her pain.


Thursday, 25 March 2010

Wild Grass – 6:45pm Palace Centro


Director Alain Resnais delivers a career-crowning masterpiece with this delightful roundelay, based on Christian Gailly's novel "The Incident", about the fate-altering ripples triggered by a lost handbag.  The purse belongs to Marguerite, a dentist who flies airplanes as a hobby. Georges, an eccentric married man discovers it – and soon finds himself infatuated with the purse's owner, even though he hasn't met her. Resnais observes their elaborate dance of attraction and rejection, hesitation and impulsiveness with all the wisdom of an artist who loves his characters and revels in their misadventures.


Friday, 26 March 2010

Father Of My Children – 6:30pm Palace Barracks


Film producer Grégoire Canvel has it all – a wife and three delightful daughters he adores and a stimulating job that he's devoted to. On the surface he seems invincible, maintaining humour and charm as he tirelessly juggles the never-ending demands of his company with his domestic responsibilities. But when Grégoire's reserves, financial and emotional, reach a dramatic cracking point, his wife Sylvia and children are forced to cope with the repercussions...


Saturday, 27 March 2010

Welcome – 8:45pm Palace Barracks


17-year-old Bilal has spent the last three months travelling illegally across Europe in an attempt to reunite with his girlfriend in England. The difficult journey is almost over when he finally reaches the far northern coast of France, and can literally see his destination from across the Channel. But it's here that his journey comes to an abrupt halt. Spurred by his dream, with all legal options exhausted, Bilal decides he'll swim across. Here he meets Simon who impulsively risks everything by taking Bilal under his wing.


Sunday, 28 March 2010

Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky – 8:00pm Palace Barracks


The opening sequence sets the film's grand tone by unfolding one of the great artistic scandals in its original venue: the 1913 premiere of revolutionary composer Stravinsky's radically modernist ballet, Rite of Spring, at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées. Seven years later, rendered penniless by the violently negative reaction to his work, Stravinsky accepts the newly successful Chanel's offer to lodge him, his wife and four children, in her new villa 'Bel Respiro' in Garches. And so begins their frenzied liaison, paralleled by revolutionary ideas – the designer's desire to transform women's fashions and the composer's redefinition of musical taste.


Monday, 29 March 2010

One For The Road – 6:30pm Palace Barracks


Hervé, the head of a press agency, is traveling fast down a road headed in only one direction: self-destruction. He is an alcoholic, and his drinking is wrecking his marriage, family and career. In desperation and still in denial, he checks into a detox clinic in Geneva, his last-chance saloon. There he meets a group of fellow sufferers and one person in particular, a young woman named Magali (Mélanie Thierry), who help him to see life other than through the bottom of an empty bottle.


Tuesday, 30 March 2010

In Your Arms – 6:30pm Palace Barracks


Louis was abandoned by his mother when he was only a few weeks old. Now sixteen, he wants to know where he comes from and despite the reluctance of his adoptive parents he heads south to find the mother he's never known. Totally thrown by this unexpected visit, florist Solange violently rejects the child she never desired and had forgotten for so long. But Louis perseveres, and in the midst of this turmoil he searches for, and finds himself. Stumbling between obstacles and small victories, a fledgling but luminous relationship develops between Louis and his mother.


Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Gainsbourg – 7:30pm Palace Centro


The Festival's Closing Night Gala for 2010 is graphic novelist Joann Sfar's audacious directorial debut, an amusing and fantastical biopic of the debonair Serge Gainsbourg.  This surreal and evocative record of Monsieur Gainsbourg (Eric Elmosnino) - iconic singer, poet, writer, actor and general provocateur - traces his youth growing up in 1940s Nazi-occupied Paris, through to his transformation into the hard-living showman, enfant terrible and successful songwriter during three decades.


Hopefully I’ll see you at the Festival!