New-wave festival with old friends

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“IT’S going to be about young faces, new faces – a new wave,” enthuses Philippe Milloux, the director of the 23rd Alliance Française French Film Festival in Australia.

Well, not quite.

Followers of this festival will be pleased to hear that we’ve already spotted two appearances by Gerard Depardieu, not least opposite Catherine Deneuve in the closing night film, Truffaut’s 1980 “The Last Metro”, which is, according to Milloux, “as good as it was when I was 20”.

Or what about “And If We All Lived Together”, where Geraldine Chaplin, Guy Bedos, Claude Rich, Pierre Richard and Jane Fonda play people who’ve been friends for more than 40 years?

But Milloux is near enough to being right in promising new stories in new films with new stars for new fans. Very appropriate, as he predicts the Academy Awards success of “The Artist” will prefigure the reinvention of the French cinema industry, already pouring out more than 250 films a year and a tribute to the tax incentives of the Mitterrand era.

Now you can see the generational changes that resulted from that encouragement.

Take Daniel Auteuil, famous for his starring role in ”Jean de Florette” and now in this festival behind the camera as a director of “The Well-Digger’s Daughter and “Beloved”, where Chiara Mastroianni appears with her real-life mother, Deneuve.

There’s a lot to boast about. For one thing, the festival will again present the full program of 45 films in the national capital. But the pièce de résistance is the introduction of a Francophone element that sees countries such as Canada and Belgium represented in the program.

With this in mind, two special events will take place, “Nothing to Declare” on at 6.30pm, Tuesday, March 20 (GU Manuka), sponsored by the Royal Embassy of Belgium, including Belgium chocolate tasting session and free Belgium beer, and the film “Café de Flore”, at 6pm, Friday, March 30 (Arc Cinema), including a reception sponsored by the High Commission of Canada.


“The 23rd Alliance Française French Film Festival in Australia” at the National Film and Sound Archive and Greater Union Manuka cinemas, March 14-April 1. Bookings to or

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Helen Musa
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