French film festival 2023
Friday 12 May
CHILDREN/ FAMILY / FRANCE / 2022 / 109MINS / PG
Growing up among horses at her parents' stud farm, Zoé dreams of becoming a jockey and forms a deep bond with a young horse. A terrible accident threatens to end their racing careers, but they fight to reach victory together. A film that touches the heart and bewitches the senses, Ride Above transports audiences from their seats to the stables and glistening coastlines of Normandy, France. The story follows Zoé (Carmen Kassovitz), who dreams of becoming a great jockey just like her father Philippe (Pio Marmaï, The Trouble with You, AF FFF19). Throughout childhood our aspiring jockey forges a deep connection with her horses – but there is no bond quite like the love she shares with her best friend Belle Intriguante, her stables prize mare. When tragedy strikes and Zoé is left with a debilitating injury - the life she so carefully envisioned begins to slip through her fingers. Feeling devastated and not knowing where to turn next, Zoé pushes away her loved ones, hiding away from the world in her isolated cabin. Determined to help Zoé find trust in Belle Intriguante her beloved friend Seb (Kacey Motten Klein) courageously formulates a plan, but will it be enough to encourage her to ride again? Heart wrenching and honest, Ride Above is a tale of loss and triumph – a reminder that in the face of adversity the strongest barrier to achieving our dreams is often ourselves.
Friday 12 May
THRILLER / FRANCE / 2022 / 107MINS / M
Cédric Jimenez’s status as one of France’s most successful contemporary directors has been cemented with his captivating new thriller, an edge-of- your seat deep-dive into one of the most incredible manhunts in European history. After premiering to acclaim at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival, November stormed the local box office to become the most successful French film of the year (achieving a spectacular 2.4 million admissions).
Led by an all-star cast of iconic talent, November powerfully explores the perspective of the lead investigators of the French anti-terrorism services, working against the clock in the aftermath of the 2015 attacks across Paris. The unit led by Héloise (Sandrine Kiberlain) and her closest associates, Fred (Jean Dujardin, The Artist) and Inès (Anaïs Demoustie), having been caught off guard, assembles under immense pressure.
With the Interior Ministry pushing for results, and almost overwhelmed with the weight of the responsibility, they’re faced with the near- impossible task of catching the culprits before they can strike again... Focusing on the highly-charged pursuit – and the moral and ethical boundaries it pushes – rather than on the crimes themselves, Jimenez delivers breathtaking action and suspense.
Fans of The Bureau and the iconic ‘policier’ thrillers of the 70s should no.t miss November.
Saturday 13 May
DRAMA / FRANCE / 2022 / 122MINS / M
One of the most buzzed-about films of the 2022/23 awards season, the extraordinary narrative debut feature by acclaimed documentarian Alice Diop depicts the gripping story of a young novelist who is forced to confront her own complex family history as she attends a notorious murder trial.
Northeastern France, 2016. Rama (Kayije Kagame), a successful Parisian journalist and author, has travelled to the coastal town of Saint-Omer to document the trial of Laurence Coly (Guslagie Malanda), a well-educated young Senegalese Frenchwoman who is accused of abandoning her 15-month-old daughter on a beach at high tide. At work on a modern-day adaptation of Medea, Rama plans to incorporate Laurence’s story into her new novel, but the case affects her in unexpected ways and she soon begins to unravel over complex childhood memories and increasing uncertainty over her own impending motherhood...
Inspired by true events, Saint Omer is an arresting and profound film of constantly shifting layers; at once a tense courtroom drama, an inquiry into female agency, and a provocative examination of myth. Deservedly selected to represent France at the 2023 Academy Award®, Diop’s film is a must-see.
Saturday 13 May
COMEDY / FRANCE / 2022 / 99MINS / M
WATCH TRAILER HERE
Familial tensions, criminal hijinks and unexpected romance collide in the uproariously entertaining new comedy hit from the multi-talented Louis Garrel. Lyon, present day. When widowed marine biologist Abel learns that his impulsive mother Sylvie is once again re-marrying – this time to an inmate she met whilst teaching theatre in prison – he’s more than uncomfortable. Doubting that convicted burglar Michel (Roschdy Zem) is capable of staying out of trouble, Abel’s protective streak kicks in, and with the help of his best friend Clémence (Noémie Merlant), he begins tailing his new stepfather’s movements.
Their amateur sleuthing is quickly uncovered by Michel and triggers an unlikely – and bold – business proposition for them both... Joyfully paying homage to the great crime capers of the French New Wave, and partly inspired by events from his own life, Garrel’s witty and beautifully constructed film is a delirious mix of comedy, romance, suspense and action, with several twists too good to spoil.
Selected as the special Gala Screening to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the Cannes Film Festival - where it drew a thunderously positive response – this hilarious comedy aims to please, and does so effortlessly. Don’t miss it!
Saturday 13 May
WELLBEING / FRANCE / 2021 / 104MINS / M
Angèle (Eye Haidara) has always used her wit and intoxicating spirit to get through life – but when she finds herself on the bad side of a local gang, she must scramble to find an honest job. True to form, Angèle chooses to wing it, using her charm to enchant a wealthy mother, landing her first-ever role as a nanny – but could it be all too good to be true?
Connecting with the other nannies in the neighbourhood, she quickly begins to experience the degrading treatment and over-the-top lifestyles of the wealthy families firsthand. Angry and hopeless, Angèle makes a risky but courageous choice - to fight back. Along the way she meets a young lawyer, Édouard (Ahmed Sylla). As the connection between the two grows, Angèle finds herself torn between her feelings for Édouard and his line of work – struggling with his support of the wealthy, discriminatory people she is fighting against. When the going gets tough, will their differences threaten to tear them apart?
As the nanny’s mission becomes more complex, Angèle must keep her involvement a secret from her employer, all the while quietly enriching the lives of everyone that she meets. But as time goes on and the stakes become higher – will our super nanny be able to make the changes she so desperately wants to see in the world?
Sunday 14 May
COMEDY, DRAMA / FRANCE / 2022 / 101MINS / MA15+
WATCH TRAILER HERE
A film that will transport you from the gritty, high-rise “banlieues” of outer Paris to the gilded splendour of the Opéra Garnier – a dissection of genres in a world where opera meets rap in musical marvel – Tenor. Antoine, an aspiring young rapper from the suburbs of Paris, meets Mrs. Loyseau, an eminent teacher at the Paris Opéra. Stunned by the young man's raw talent, she introduces him to the world of opera.
Hilarious and uplifting performance as the duo work to navigate classical Opera and Tupac’s Greatest Hits together.
While delivering food, Antoine stumbles into a rehearsal room at the Opéra Garnier, instantly enchanted by the beautiful sound of a young soprano, he listens. As the privileged students attempt to belittle Antoine, he replies with a burst of song in his striking tenor voice catching the ear of Madame Loysau (Michèle Laroque) who offers Antoine the opportunity of a lifetime, to study under her tutelae. Antoine must now choose between his two loves - Opera and Rap, a choice which he knows his community may not support.
An unlikely pairing, both MB14 and Michèle Laroque deliver a hilarious, uplifting performance as the duo work to navigate classical Opera and Tupac’s Greatest Hits together. A story where opposites attract, Antoine and Mrs Loyseau are able to find common ground in the joy of expression, looking past labels and prejudice to create beautiful music.
Sunday 14 May
DRAMA / FRANCE / 2022 / 119MINS / M
WATCH TRAILER HERE
February 1974, regional France. When mild-mannered working class mother of two Annie (Laure Calamy) and her husband accidentally fall pregnant, they know they can’t afford to care for another child. Annie is introduced to a group of local women and doctors who offer both judgement-free support and family planning. Far from underground, the network defiantly refuses to hide from public view, even though their efforts are considered illegal across the nation. Annie is surprised by the camaraderie and conviction of her new friends, and through them, finds her mind opened to feminism and self-empowerment. Anchored by Calamy’s generous and hugely engaging performance, amid an exceptional ensemble cast of authentic, memorable characters, Lenoir’s ode to female solidarity tells a tale as important as ever, not only a compelling reminder of how things were, but also a warning of how they could yet be.
Sunday 14 May
DRAMEDY / FRANCE / 2021 / 95MINS / M
The irrepressible, larger-than-life Gérard Depardieu is renowned for bringing generous helpings of his own personality to any role, and in writer/director Constance Meyer’s deft, highly enjoyable new fable about an unlikely friendship, he not only takes this mantle, but runs away with it.
Paris, present day. Very much past his prime, once-famed actor Georges - overweight, boorish and misanthropic - is struggling with health problems and a reputation for being irascible and difficult to work with. While preparing for his latest role in a historical epic, Georges is thrown for a loop when his assistant unexpectedly takes leave, placing him dependent on Aïssa (Déborah Lukumuena) the security company’s appointed replacement. It’s a seemingly round-the-clock position - driver, secretary, bodyguard and babysitter - but Aïssa is not easily intimidated. Whilst life may have shaped the disillusioned star and his pragmatic, assured young helper in very different ways, a singular platonic friendship begins to take root...
Depardieu is at his sensitive best here, relishing the chance to wink at his public persona, and Lukumuena is completely up to the task as his foil. The chemistry between them is both riveting and moving, from the first shot to the last.
Thanks to our generous sponsors that made the Cairns French Film Festival 2023 possible.
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