Posted by Ross Battaglia
16. Feb, 2017
Bienvenue to the Alliance Française French Film Festival 2017, the largest of its kind outside France. With 716 screenings in Melbourne at six different cinemas, the festival is a celebration of the artistic superiority of contemporary French cinema. Unrivalled in the medium, Philippe Platel, festival artistic director, has carefully selected 45 films of cinematic genius, resulting in an eclectic mix of gritty coming-of-age narratives, whimsical romantic comedies and fanciful historical films that bring Versailles to the main screen.
Kicking off in Melbourne on Wednesday, 8 March to Thursday, 30 March, the festival features the crème de la crème of acting while welcoming a new generation of actors and directors to the stage. Giants of the small screen grace the festival with Oscar-nominated Isabelle Huppert starring in the gripping Things to Come, while Gérard Depardieu steals the spotlight in Saint Amour, and Marion Cotillard shines in It’s Only the End of the World. Hollywood’s jewel, Natalie Portman, and rising star, Lily-Rose Depp, star in Planetarium, playing two sisters travelling through pre-war Europe.
One movie that is sure to attract major buzz is The Dancer. Inspired by the true story of Loïe Fuller (played by the multi-talented SoKo), the film charts Fuller’s life from her obscure origins and complex relationship with her parents in the United States, to fulfilling her dream of performing at the Paris Opera and ultimately becoming a pioneer of modern dance, revolutionising the theatrical scene in late 19th-Century France. Fuller’s pièce de résistance is the ‘Serpentine’ dance, which astounds those closest to her by defying typical gender norms of that time. The dance itself, is breathtaking. SoKo, under the guiding directive of Stephanie Di Gusto, is in her element as an artist whose moment in the sun is fading, but whose body and mind will be pushed to the brink of ruin in her determination to remain a star.
Sharing the screen is Lily-Rose Depp, who yields sheer control in her portrayal of Isadora Duncan – Fuller’s object of unrequited desire – and perfectly encapsulates the seductive, manipulative and power-hungry dance prodigy. The film successfully unpacks the complicated relationship between Fuller and Duncan, one of competition, passion and betrayal, with SoKo and Depp playing off each other exceptionally well. The Dancer is more than a retelling of true events – it is a film that explores gender stereotypes, and identity.
For all the Francophiles out there, this year’s French Film Festival has something for everyone and we hope to see you there!
Alliance Française French Film Festival 2017,
Wednesday, 8 March to Thursday, 30 March
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