The Alliance Française French Film Festival returns to Perth from March 9 to April 6, with over 40 films to choose from.
This year’s program boasts a talented and diverse line-up of ambassadors eager to celebrate the profound impact of French cinema on their careers, both personally and more broadly in the field of filmmaking. Ambassadors include blockbuster film director Phillip Noyce, acclaimed screen and theatre director Shannon Murphy, and internationally recognised filmmaker Samantha Lang
Courage, generosity, equality, and team spirit are recurring themes that demonstrate France’s determination to address contemporary challenges in a positive context.
Of key note is the exhilarating new film by Xavier Giannoli, Lost Illusions, an adaptation of Balzac’s classic novel about a young idealist who learns that anything can be bought and sold. Epic in cinema scope, it is lavishly set in 1821, where a handsome yet poor poet Lucien displays his high ambition. Failing to make a name for himself in his provincial hometown, he naively follows his married patroness to the glamorous beau monde of Paris, entering a society far more dangerous than he first thought. Funny, dark, romantic and extravagant, Lost Illusions is the perfect French cinema escape.
Other superb films that ought to be on your radar include a line-up of legendary French actors, including Juliette Binoche, Gerard Depardieu and Catherine Deneuve: Fire, Farewell, Mr Haffmann, Maigret, and Peaceful.
Above all, you must see the remarkable tale based on a true story, Goliath, intelligently directed by Frederic Tellier. A politically charged thriller that bravely tackles the corruption of a powerful multinational company hiding environmental truths about their pesticides – and the human carnage their products may cause – Goliath is one of those movies that provokes discussion of human rights and the preservation of our environment. Both these issues are increasingly sacrificed over profit-hungry companies that collectively behave in an unscrupulous and immoral manner, while innocent people continue to suffer.
Patrick (the amazing Gilles Lellouche, also starring in this year’s Farewell, Mr. Haffmann), is a most passionate Parisian lawyer specialising in environmental law. He is compelled to fight on behalf of small-time farmers who demand justice for a desperate victim of an unspeakable tragedy. Mathias is a high-ranking, hard-edged lobbyist (Pierre Niney, Black Box) who doggedly rallies his industry against all of Patrick’s honest attempts to bring the truth to light. Patrick is equally determined to win his civil case for his mistreated clients who cannot sustain any more painful losses of life.
The acrimonious battle between the two opponents, delivers some of the finest dramatic performances, moving the audience to feel every crushing emotion, after every blow to Patrick’s efforts to thwart his hope for an impossible win. Yet, it is heroic tenacity and courage to hold onto a glimmer of hope to fight the fight of his career, metaphorically David against Goliath, that earns the film’s title and our respect.
One of the most fascinating aspects of the story reveals just how far giant conglomerates will go to control the public narrative to meet their own ends.
In one scene, where Mathias crosses into immoral darkness, he orders his team to manipulate social media to damage reputations by violently trolling Patrick’s firm, defaming his good will, and abusing his clients across all media platforms, and unveiling just how powerful fake news can be in ruining people’s lives. Watching such a conniving process unravel Patrick’s case, rendering him helpless, is scarily unnerving as we realise how political events today are charged under equally malicious attacks, such as Ukraine under Russian military assault by power-hungry narcissist Putin. The Russian government is fear mongering-amidst severe social media propaganda as Putin outrageously disregards any truth other than his own megalomaniac agenda.
Goliath is an intelligent, provocative film that will leave you aching for social justice, barracking for all the underdogs who are bravely fighting impossible wars not just on the battle fields but in their own backyards. Environmental issues where products are linked to have carcinogenic life-effacing affects are a universal problem, and Tellier and his social activists show we need to continue shouting loudly for the good of our all our futures.
The Alliance Française French Film Festival in Perth runs from March 9 to April -April 6, 2022 at Palace Cinemas, Luna and Windsor theatres.
To build your watch list and bag your tickets to enjoy the crème-de la-crème of contemporary French film, head to affrenchfilmfestival.org.