Interview: The Alliance Française French Film Festival's Thirtieth Anniversary
With the Alliance Française French Film Festival beginning this week, we thought we’d chat to Audrey Lureau, the managing director of the festival, to get her take on the best on offer this year, the festival’s 30th anniversary, and the endearing legacy of French film. The festival is running from the the 13th of March until the 10th of April, so be sure to get out and check out what’s on offer. You can find the festival’s list of films, venues and special events on their website.
How did you decide your picks for this year? Were you looking to showcase anything in particular? Or provide a broad range of films?
We wanted the 30th Edition of the Festival to be the richest and biggest festival selection so far. This year’s festival showcases 54 movies from Comedy to Drama, including, documentaries, horror, thriller, family movies and animation.
Any personal favourites from the list?
Three films stand out for me: In Safe Hands which throws us deep into the milieu of the French social assistance services; Genesis, a beautiful story capturing the singularity of first love; and Amanda, a beguiling family drama, which also serves as a divine valentine to the beauty and eccentricities of Paris.
Were there any films you wish could have made the list that you couldn’t put on?
The Trouble with You is the festival's opening night film. I was wondering why this film was chosen as the flagship film with which to begin the festival?
Starting the Festival with a comedy was a gift we wanted to offer to the public. Because an anniversary is a festive time, we wanted to celebrate it with brilliant actors and a great director! The Trouble with You is definitely a comedy you won’t forget and was one of the biggest audience hits of Cannes 2018. The Opening Gala at Paradiso Cinema on Wednesday 13th of March will be fantastic night with a lot of entertainment, great prizes to win and a huge after party at Connections Club! You won’t want to miss it! Get your tickets here
The festival is celebrating its thirty-year anniversary. How do you think the festival’s selections and French film in general have changed over this period?
It has continued to become more inclusive and diverse. For the past two years, the festival has included new categories such as “Danger Sphere” which celebrates the artistry of several emerging young filmmakers alongside the legends of French film. This year these including Dominique Rocher (The Night Eats the World), Coralie Fargeat (Revenge), Elsa Amiel (Pearl), Yann Gonzales (Knife+Heart), Cécila Rouaud (Family Photo) and Lukas Dhont (Girl).
Other categories include “Across Borders” which showcases outstanding films from Switzerland, Canada and Belgium. As well as “Paris Snapshots”, “Summertime” and “Paris Fashion Week”, which give us some amazing films honouring some of France’s top fashion Icons. These include Olivier Meyrou’s controversial yet exquisitely drawn portrait of France’s last great fashion designer, Yves Saint Laurent (Celebration: Yves Saint Laurent) and Yann L’Hénoret’s film, shot across a six-month period, following the conception of the ultra-luxe Fashion Freak Show cabaret of Jean Paul Gaultier (Jean Paul Gaultier: Freak and Chic).
Any particular films showing this year that you recommend for someone new to French film?
Sink or Swim. A film about a disparate group of 40-somethings – all in the throes of mid-life crises - who decide to form a males-only synchronised swimming team. Sink or Swim is an unashamedly French take on the challenges of 21st century masculinity with thematic comparisons to 1997’s hugely successful British comedy, The Full Monty.
French film remains popular throughout the English-speaking world. I was wondering why you think French film in particular has remained so highly regarded?
France has a long tradition in making films and we have come a long way since the Lumieres Brothers. Our world is so diverse, French Films reflect this diversity, this openness and awareness.