Festival News

Planetarium Director Rebecca Zlotowski Announced as Festival Guest

We are delighted to announce director Rebecca Zlotowski will travel to New Zealand to present her stunning feature film Planetarium at selected screenings in Auckland and Wellington.

Rebecca Zlotowski has a reputation for films of emotional depth and striking visuals. Taking us back to the height of studio cinema, Planetarium showcases opulent costumes and stunning cinematography. Starring Natalie Portman and Lily-Rose Depp, two sisters who have the ability to contact ghosts and perform as psychic mediums, the film is set at the close of the 1930s in Paris. There, in the city of light, they catch the eye of film producer Korben (Emmanuel Salinger) who becomes obsessed with the idea of filming the supernatural. The sisters become embroiled in the world of cinema, blissfully unaware of the worldwide turmoil of the years to come.

After graduating from the prestigious Ecole Normale Supérieure and being a French Language and Literature agrégée, Rebecca Zlotowski joined the famous Paris film school La Fémis where she encountered other distinctive filmmakers such as Teddy Lussi Modeste, Jean-Claude Brisseau, Philippe Grandrieux, Antoine d’Agata (with whom she will collaborate on a future project), and Lodge Kerrigan. Selected at the 2010 Cannes Critics’ Week, her first directorial effort Belle Epine won the Prix Louis Delluc as well as the Critics’ Award for Best First Feature Film. Three years later, Grand Central was selected at the Un Certain Regard in Cannes. Planetarium is Zlotowski’s third feature film.

Rebecca Zlotowski will present her film at the Wellington screening on 12 March at Embassy Theatre. A Q+A will follow the screening, moderated by writer and reviewer Brannavan Gnanalingam. She will also introduce her film in Auckland on 13 March at Rialto Cinemas Newmarket. A Q+A will follow the screening, moderated by film distributor Jill Macnab (Vendetta Films).

Rebecca Zlotowski’s trip to New Zealand is made possible thanks to support from UniFrance, Alliance Française New Zealand, and the Embassy of France in New Zealand.

Tickets are now available from screening venues and the Planetarium film page.

Spotlight on a Sponsor: TV5MONDE

To celebrate our 2017 Festival sponsors, we are continuing our ‘Spotlight on a Sponsor’ special on our blog to introduce the people behind the brand. This week, we are pleased to present our wonderful Sponsor TV5MONDE.

Alexandre Muller, Managing Director of TV5MONDE Asie Pacifique, sat down to answer our short questionnaire and give us some insight into the company.

What is your favourite way to enjoy fine French cinema?
I believe there is only one-way to enjoy fine French cinema: BIG screen.

Which French films are you hoping to see in the 2017 programme (contemporary or classic)?
Juste la fin du monde (It’s Only the End of the World) by Xavier Dolan featuring Nathalie Baye, Vincent Cassel, Marion Cotillard, Léa Seydoux and Gaspard Ulliel and Planetarium, by Rebecca Zlotowski featuring Natalie Portman, Lily-Rose Depp, Emmanuel Salinger and Louis Garrel, are amongst the two movies that I am hoping to see in this year’s programme.

How does your company bring a French touch to New Zealand?
TV5MONDE Pacific offers several French films and series slots throughout the day. People are thus able to enjoy French cinema and dramas all around the year – it is a way to complete Alliance Française French Film Festival offer! TV5MONDE also offers a tour of French savoir-vivre in the fields of gastronomy, luxury, travel, fashion, home, garden, and design. You can discover French territories and lands only by watching our programmes!

If you could dine with any French star, who would you choose?
I was fortunate enough to have the pleasure of dining with several French Stars already. Nevertheless Sophie Marceau will definitely be the one I’ll choose amongst them all!

What are you most looking forward to at the 2017 Alliance Française French Film Festival?
I am sure the organisers have been working hard to ensure that this year’s Festival hits all the right notes. I’m looking forward to being surprised, enchanted, thrilled or simply moved!!

Focus on Female Filmmakers

This year, we are proud to shine a spotlight on the brightest female stars of the directing world. This is reflected in the numerous works featured in this year’s line-up which have been crafted by supremely talented female directors.

In the Festival programme section Women to the Fore, viewers are invited to experience a diverse selection of stunning cinema, focussing on the ubiquitous presence of strong female voices in French cinema today. Outside of this section, the programme features a further six films by women, from rising talents such as Rebecca Zlotowski (Planetarium) to Festival favourite Emmanuelle Bercot (150 Milligrams, Standing Tall).

Planetarium (Planétarium)
Director: Rebecca Zlotowski

Rebecca Zlotowski’s Planetarium tells the story of two young mediums in Paris in the 1930s. Zlotowski, famed for visually striking and intricately presented films such as Grand Central, creates another cinematic delight with Planetarium. Deservedly being screened out of competition at the Venice International Film Festival in 2016, Zlotowski’s directing crafts a masterful film of supreme emotional depth and vivid imagination.

Ogres (Les Ogres)
Director: Léa Fehner

Ogres follows the highs and lows of the eccentric life of a travelling troupe of performers. Léa Fehner’s unique personal voice is obvious in this big-hearted and energetic offering, and she features several members of her own family in the cast. Inspired by her own background in her family’s circus troupe, Ogres is a magnificent example of a talented female director bringing her past to life.

From the Land of the Moon (Mal de pierres)
Director: Nicole Garcia

Nicole Garcia presents a gripping tale of repressed femininity and personal liberation in From the Land of the Moon. Featuring a dazzling performance by Marion Cotillard, the film screened in competition at Cannes in 2016. A clear choice for the Festival’s Women to the Fore programme section, Garcia creates a razor-sharp portrayal of societal constraints on the romantic and emotional development of a young woman.

150 Milligrams (La fille de Brest)
Director: Emmanuelle Bercot

Arguably one of the line-up’s most suspenseful thrillers, Emmanuelle Bercot delivers a forceful masterpiece in 150 Milligrams. One of Festival Patron Peter Calder’s top picks, 150 Milligrams was featured in the Official Competition of the San Sebastian International Film Festival 2016. This tale of one woman’s struggle to take on a Pharmaceutical giant is a stunning directorial work from Bercot, focussing on feminine courage and the capacity for change.

Standing Tall (La tête haute)
Director: Emmanuelle Bercot

Bercot’s second offering of the Festival is also a top pick from Peter Calder. Confronting and thought provoking, Standing Tall draws on Bercot’s own experiences with her family’s interaction with the juvenile court system. Bercot’s audacious juxtaposition of gritty reality and moments of true joy highlights her astounding ability to vividly connect to a viewer and retain tension and suspense for the entire span of a film.

In Bed with Victoria (Victoria)
Director: Justine Triet

Justine Triet’s In Bed with Victoria is a true example of the ability of a female director to subvert expectations and make her unique mark on a genre. Due to Triet’s assured and sophisticated directing, romantic comedy is refined in this side splitting comedy. Featured as the Critics’ Week opening night film at Cannes in 2016, In Bed with Victoria is a true delight.

Baden Baden
Director: Rachel Lang

It is not often that a directorial debut is simultaneously hilarious and beautifully complex, but Rachel Lang achieves this in Baden Baden with the assurance of a seasoned director. Following a young woman’s journey through the ups and downs of one unforgettable summer, Lang’s treatment of themes of love lost and the desire for identity elevate this simple tale to a true example of free spirited and confident directing.

Just to be Sure (Ôtez-moi d’un doute)
Director: Carine Tardieu

Following such gems as The Bélier Family and Rosalie Blum, the Festival is thrilled to feature a World Premiere within its line-up. Carine Tardieu’s delightful romantic comedy Just to be Sure is a touching and humorous exploration of family tension and the search for identity, convincingly directed and charmingly performed. Tardieu is also responsible for The Dandelions which featured in the 2013 line-up, making her one to watch in the directorial field.

The Woods Dreams are Made of (Le bois dont les rêves sont faits)
Director: Claire Simon

In this superb documentary, Claire Simon observes the stories of the people she encounters in a huge park outside Paris. She invites us to see what she sees as openly and non judgementally as she does. Simon demonstrates a unique and thought provoking view of our industrial world and commercialised society, reinforcing the strength of feminine perspectives in French cinema.

Things to Come (L’avenir)
Director: Mia Hansen-Løve

Mia Hansen-Løve’s Things to Come is a moving illustration of new identity and rebirth after loss. Inspired by her relationship with her own mother, Hansen-Løve boldly treats the complexity of mature life as a woman, and skilfully navigates themes of feminine self-fulfilment and self-knowledge. Hansen-Løve deservedly gained the Silver Bear for Best Director at the Berlin International Film Festival 2016, making her a key role model for future female directors, and a sign of the strong female presence among film accolades today.

We look forward to sharing the joy of French cinema with you from 1 March – 12 April 2017 in 12 cities across New Zealand. Visit our Dates and Venues page for details and see our Films page for the full 2017 line-up.

Spotlight on a Sponsor: Aircalin

To celebrate our 2017 Festival sponsors, we are continuing our ‘Spotlight on a Sponsor’ special on our blog to introduce the people behind the brand. This week, we are pleased to present our wonderful Sponsor Aircalin.

Angela Hallett sat down to answer our short questionnaire and give us some insight into the company.

What is your favourite way to enjoy fine French cinema?
Going to the Alliance Française French Film Festival. With so many movies to choose from it is going to be a busy time trying to fit as many in as possible.

Which French films are you hoping to see in the 2017 programme (contemporary or classic)?
With the French being such good movie-makers, there is always something thought-provoking to see in all genres but I particularly like comedy and drama, so Penny Pincher and Mercenary respectively are two that I am looking forward to seeing.

How does your company bring a French touch to New Zealand?
Aircalin is the international airline of New Caledonia….a little piece of France in the South Pacific, a less than 3 hour flight from Auckland.

If you could dine with any French star, who would you choose?
Gérard Dépardieu because I think it would be a very entertaining dining experience!

What are you most looking forward to at the 2017 Alliance Française French Film Festival?
Seeing French culture lit up on screen and being transported through all different emotions we meet in life.

The 2017 Programme is Now Online

After months of preparation, viewing and selecting films, liaising with partners and much detailed planning, we are excited to have arrived at the moment when we officially announce the full programme.

This year’s Festival will truly explore one language, and a world of emotions, and there is plenty in store with 36 films presented over 6 weeks in 12 cities across New Zealand.

With award-winning titles, numerous female-directed features, and slapstick comedies, the 11th edition of the Alliance Française French Film Festival will feature some of France’s top stars and shine a light on up-and-coming talent. We’ve highlighted a few must-see films.

Just to be Sure (Ôtez-moi d’un doute)
Having presented the International Premieres of some superb French jewels in the past, 2017 is no exception, marking the world debut of writer-director Carine Tardieu’s wonderfully funny Just to be Sure (Ôtez-moi d’un doute), starring François Damiens (The Bélier Family, AF FFF 2015) and Cécile de France (La Belle Saison, AF FFF 2016).

Fans of classic French cinema will enjoy a fresh look at classic film genres with the Classics Remixed section of the programme, which pairs musical comedy The Umbrellas of Cherbourg with Julie and the Shoe Factory, and the film noir Le Doulos with Dark Diamond.

From the Land of the Moon (Mal de pierres)
The Festival has the pleasure of presenting From the Land of the Moon (Mal de pierres) as an exclusive preview before the national New Zealand release.
Based on Milena Agus’ novel of the same name, Marion Cotillard gives a luminous performance as Gabrielle, giving a voice to the torments of a repressed life, and Louis Garrel (also in Two Friends and Planetarium) excels his charms as dashing war veteran André.

You can explore the full 2017 programme on the Films page, and get your copy of the print programme from Festival venues and your local Alliance Française following delivery. Tickets will be on sale through Festival screening venues in the coming days. For more information, head to our Ticket Info page.

Festival Patrons Share Their Picks of the Programme

With the full programme reveal only a week away, we want to share one final sneak peek of what’s to come in the 2017 Festival by revealing our Festival Patrons’ picks. Peter Calder and Antonia Prebble took great care in selecting their top two films from the programme, and we hope you’ll be just as enthusiastic about these fantastic titles.

Peter Calder’s Festival Picks

“I fell in love with Catherine Deneuve and the movies on the same day, when, still a teenager, I saw Buñuel’s Belle de jour.

French cinema has been a staple of my moviegoing diet ever since, which seems fair enough, since France is where a movie was first screened, in March 1895 (the men behind it, Auguste and Louis Lumière, later decided it was a fad that would not catch on).”

Standing Tall
“The lustrous Deneuve features in one of my two picks as must-see films in this festival. In La tête haute, she’s fierce and magnificent as a youth court magistrate who becomes something of a foster mum to a troubled teenager. The film, which scrupulously avoids the bland pieties to which the genre is prey, has a steely heart: it does not allow us, as an audience, to remain disengaged from the social problems it depicts. And it is fuelled by an awesome performance by 19-year-old Rod Paradot as the tormented adolescent.”

150 Milligrams
“Fans of the irresistibly effervescent Danish actress Sidse Babett Knudsen, the central figure in the political drama Borgen, will enjoy her performance in La fille de Brest, which adapts a true story about a doctor in a provincial hospital who took on Big Pharma and the lumbering behemoth that is the French civil service.”

Antonia Prebble’s Festival Picks

“It is my great pleasure to be an ambassador for the Festival once again this year. Having watched a wide selection of films from the programme I can confidently say that French cinema is alive and well.”

The Unknown Girl
La fille inconnue is a simple yet sophisticated film that follows a young doctor who is haunted by the death of a stranger that she feels she could have prevented.
The film is told in an unadorned manner, but what elevates this film is the stunning performance of lead actress Adèle Haenel. She is simultaneously raw and held – and always intelligent. She has a grace and humility to her that is quietly captivating and, as she is in almost every scene of the film, she serves to make the otherwise straightforward plot utterly compelling.”

The Odyssey
“The second film that I would recommend is L’Odyssée, a biopic that charts the life and career of Jacques Cousteau.

Cousteau, the man, is revealed to be a complex individual whose unrelenting ambition makes life difficult for those close to him. I came away feeling enriched from learning about the extraordinary life of this extraordinary individual and inspired to watch more of Cousteau’s own films.”

The full programme will be available online from 7pm on Thursday February 2, with print programmes available from screening venues the following day.

We look forward to sharing the joy of French cinema with you from 1 March – 12 April 2017 in 12 cities across New Zealand. Visit our Dates and Venues page for details.

For further information, keep an eye on your inbox, and our official online channels.