French Film Festival Round Up
Have you ever done a movie marathon? Do you think it means numerous films one after the other or just a lot of films over a short period of time? This year I decided to go to every film of the Newcastle Alliance Français Film Festival. So without checking what the films were about I purchased tickets for every film and hoped for the best! My weekend was free as my husband took our two boys away for a sporting event, so with time to myself I attended each movie with just enough time between films to catch a bite to eat for lunch and dinner. I really enjoyed being able to see all the films, but by the end of the weekend I felt exhausted and emotionally drained due to viewing films with subjects I usually wouldn’t have chosen to see.
The 2017 Alliance Français French Film Festival has well and truely wound up but many of the films are still being enjoyed in Australian cinemas as stand alone French feature films so we review all the films as shown in the Newcastle Festival for your information.
Watching films is a great way to help you learn a new language and often you will meet other people who have a similar interest and this can lead to helping each other learn to speak your new language also. The festival’s audience this year grossed around 145,500 admissions and the Alliance Français describes their Festival as follows:
“With an ever growing number of attendees, the Alliance Française French Film Festival is a major French annual event, which continues, each passing year, to attract more lovers of cinema. Since 1990, the Festival has showcased a selection of the latest sophisticated, vibrant and daring films from France, inviting Australian audiences to embark on a fantastic voyage of discovery.
The Alliance Française is an international cultural NGO, which was formed in 1883 in Paris by a group of influential figures in the fields of science and literature, including Louis Pasteur, Jules Verne and Ferdinand de Lesseps. Today, as a global network of more than 800 Alliances Françaises in 135 countries on all 5 continents, it promotes French culture to the global community and fosters innovative projects and French language teaching. Through its cultural activities, it has a strong focus on creativity in various domains such as Science, Gastronomy, Fashion and, of course, the Arts.”
The cities around Australia often have a different line up of films with the major cities usually showing more films than regional cities. Alliance Français Newcastle chose a diverse range of films trying to cater for all viewers in the six films. Following is a round up of the films shown in Newcastle. This round up will also help you in choosing a DVD to hire or purchase for enjoyment or language learning. I find my local JB Hi-Fi stores have a good selection of foreign films and in the past I have found many films featured in the Film Festival for purchase instore.
L’ Odyssée – The Odyssey
It is 1943 and the eccentric ambious naval officer Cousteau dreams of adventure. His magnificant new invention of the Aqua-Lung promises him just that. Now able to breathe underwater for long periods of time, Cousteau … is the first to create underwater films that dazzle audiences worldwide. (Newcastle Alliance Français)
The Odyssey is the story behind the charismatic adventurer, explorer, film maker and conservationist Jacques-Yves Cousteau. This very classy period depiction of the life of Jacques-Yves Cousteau is a ‘warts and all’ biography of the world leader of marine research. Marine inventions now allows a film viewer access deep under the ocean to witness what most of us will never see with our own eyes. The tragic tense opening scene moves quickly to the tranquil earlier days of Cousteau and his family at the cuspt of his world adventures in the famous Calypso.
I personally felt the underlying tension of the emotional rollercoster of the Cousteau’s family life and business, which made me appreciate the marine technology and advances in conservation everyone now benefits from, as a result of their determination in overcoming personal and business challenges and risks. The invention of the Aqua-Lung and an underwater camera has allowed us an amazing insight into the ocean’s depths and the abundant life that exists below the surface of our earth’s oceans, and the underwater scenes in this movie are incredible.
This is a beautiful film that will leave you in awe of this larger than life man and his family that had such a burning desire to protect the world’s oceans and its diverse sealife. Cousteau’s legacy of the monitorium on mining in the Antarctic and later the Antarctic Treaty are powerful reminders of what is possible when you campaign for good from a position of knowledge. The Oceanographic Museum which is home to the Mediterranean Science Commission, and built on the mythical Rock of Manaro, is over 100 years old and is also known as the Jacques Cousteau Museum as he was the driving force behind the dynamic displays and was director from 1957 to 1988.
This film has a lot of spoken English and the haunting piano music stood out as a strong feature of the soundtrack for me.
I thoroughly recommend this movie for the well written storyline, period costuming, beautiful soundtrack and amazing cinematography.
Adventure: 122 mins PG > Direcor: Jerome Salle > Starring: Lambert Wilson, Pierre Niney, Audrey Tautou, Vincent Heneine
Belle and Sebastian 2: The Adventure Continues
Set in 1945 Sebastian waits for the return of his friend Angelina, whom he has not seen for two years. When the plane carrying the young woman to her small village in the Alps is reported to have crashed in the mountains, Sebastian is convinced that Angelina is still alive. Along with his faithful dog Belle, Sebastian embarks on the most dangerous adventure of his life. (Newcastle Alliance Français)
Belle and Sebastian 2 is the second movie with the characters of Sebastian, an adventurous boy and his dog Belle. The mountain scenes are spectacular with most of the film appearing to be set in the Alps. The story follows Sebastian setting off to rescue his friend Angelina, whose plane crash has caused a wide spread forest fire. As usual the main character, being a child, does not do what is safe and listen to any adults but sets off, regardless of impending disaster, to rescue his friend. Being a child’s film with a PG rating, of course all ends well, but not without drama! Thank goodness the childhood folly ends well. I really enjoyed the authenticity of the props and costumes in the forest scenes with the fire fighters.
Something that will linger with me from this film is the spectacular scenery with its immense blue skies and deep green foliage. I recommend this film for adults and children 8 years and above. It may even inspire you to take up mountain trekking in the Alps, the views are so breathtaking.
This movie is entirely in French with English subtitles.
Adventure: 97 mins PG > Director: Christian Buguay > Starring: Félix Bossuet, Tchéky Karyo, Thierry Neuvic, Margaux Châtelier
The Midwife – Sage Femme
Claire is a wonderfully gifted midwife. But over the years her sense of pride and resonsibility have started to clash with the efficiency driven methods of modern hospital. She has started to question her skills and the life she has chosen. Out of the blue, she recieves a call from Béatrice, the extravagant mistress of her deceased father, who wants to meet again after 30 years. (Newcastle Alliance Français)
Catherine Deavue plays Béatrice the older “other” woman trying to make peace with those whose lives she feels she’s destroyed before her time runs out. Life is complex for Claire a hardworking mother facing job loss and a developing but uncertain romance even before her dead father’s mistress shows up and starts placing demands on her. This dramatic melodrama explores life’s sudden shifts with the relationship between reckless Beatrice and orderly Claire being the main focus. I love the way that Claire graciously accepts life’s sudden shifts, takes pleasure in her family and keeps herself grounded by spending time at her garden/vegetable plot on the river’s edge.
A dramatic film with two terrific French actresses sharing the screen strongly – Recommended for adults and mature children. French with English subtitles.
Drama: 117 mins PG > Director: Martin Provost > Starring: Catherine Deneuve, Catherine Frot, Olivier Gourmet, Mylène Demongeot
Mal de Pierres – From the Land of the Moon
1950’s France. Gabrielle is convinced that true love exists, consisting of wild excitement and unending feverish emotion. Her conservative rural family enlist José, a poor Spanish bricklayer to marry her and turn her into a respectable woman. When Gabrielle meets André, a lietenant wounded in the Indochina War, at a health retreat, her body and mind erupt with the feelings she has craved for so long, as she is determined to preserve this at any cost.
With the sexual revolution more than a decade away, a female who challenged the norms was ostracized from polite society or married off to the first comer, like Gabrielle’s shameless country girl burning for sexual fulfillment. A film of strong emotions and undying love that demonstates that mental fragility comes in many forms and is not easily understood or treated. Patience and love is the chosen therapy of José who does everything for Gabrielle and then more! I think the best thing about this film is Marion Cotillard’s performance. Period costuming is well done and the scenes showcasing the Swiss clinic high in the Alps are stunning. ‘Violin heavy’ is how I would describe the soundtrack with the film ending in a conservative fashion with a satisfying twist.
Film is in French with English subtitles. This film will not suit everyone – best seen by those that love drama and are intrigued by complex emotions.
Drama: 120 mins MA15+ > Director: Nicole Garcia > Starring: Marion Cotillard, Louis Garrel, Alexa Brendemuhl, Brigitte Rouenaslk
Heal the Living – Repares les Vivants
In Normany, Simon a young surfer is put on life support after a serious car accident and his parents are faced with an unthinkable decision. Meanwhile, in Paris, Claire receives the traumatic news that her degenerative heart condition is worsening. Only an organ transplant can save her life. Through the turbulent events of the next 24 hours, we witness the painstakingly delicate processes which connect the fates of these two people.
Well, a more dramatic film I have never seen and I have never before seen so many patrons exiting a theatre unable to watch anymore. I joined the exodus and left the film 3/4 way through. I explain however that this film is very well done and sympathetically and professionally tackles the difficult subject of youth death, middle aged ill health and organ donation. I am squeamish with medical procedures and tend to be soft with highly emotionally challenging topics so this was not really for me, however, I say again that it was extremely well done. The soundtrack is so powerful that it adds yet another level to the already dramatic subject.
I would only recommend this movie for adults who can handle medical procedures, emotional death scenes and serious health issues.
Drama: 100 mins MA15+ > Director: Katell Quillevere > Starring: Tahar Rahim, Emmaneulle Seignor, Anne Durval, Bouli Lanner
Radin! – Penny Pincher!
Forty-something and single, violinist Francois Gautier’s driving motivation in life is to never spend a cent. His waking moments are spent divising ways to maximise his profits and minimise his loses. But within the space of 24 hours his life is forced in a new direction when he falls in love with his orchestra’s new cellist, Valérie and the sixyeen year old daughter he never knew about arrives on his doorstep.
Dany Boon plays comedy roles very well and has a knack of making even facial expressions comical. His character, Francois Gautier’s obsession with never spending a cent more than necessary sees him eating out of date food, living in the dark, hitching lifts and basically making his life way more difficult than it needs to be. Relationships with those around him, neighbours and work colleagues etc, are strained and probably would never have changed except that he falls in love with his orchestra’s new cellist Valérie, (who he must try and impress without spending a cent), and his unknown teenage daughter who suddenly enters his life.
Fun, lighthearted and with a sentimental twist at the end this movie it is rated M for mature audiences and was a welcome relief, being the last film I watched of the movie marathon weekend of the Newcastle Alliance Français French Film Festival.
Comedy: 89 mins M > Director: Fred Cavaye > Starring: Dany Boon, Laurence Arné, Noémie Schmidt, Patrick Ridremont
So there you have it … the six films that made up the Newcastle French Film Festival of 2017. If you are interested in watching French Films to improve your language skills then I suggest you search for your local Alliance Français and see what they have planned in their events calendar; go to JB Hi-Fi or similar and check out the foreign films section or jump onto Netflix or Youtube to see what is available to watch. I am currently watching a French childrens cartoon series entitled ‘The long Long Holiday’ where Ernest and Colete visit their grandparents in Normandy and end up staying with their grandparents during the Nazi occupation of France during WWII.
I hope you find this helpful in your journey of enjoying and/or learning French. To check out more French films that you might enjoy, read these reviews also:
Happy watching and until next time … Au revoir Annette xx
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