The Alliance Française French Film Festival is back for its 31st edition, with the 2020 season set to screen at Palace Cinemas (Raine Square and Paradiso) and Luna Palace Cinemas (Windsor Cinema and Luna on SX) from Wednesday, March 11 until Wednesday, April 8.

Celebrating his fourth year as Artistic Director, Philippe Platel has spent the past 12 months reviewing hundreds of films to select the 49 features and documentaries, along with two thrilling television shows that form this year’s programme, many of which will be screening in Australia for the first time.

The 2020 line-up has a strong emphasis on social engagement and altruistic endeavours. These qualities are depicted in films such as the multi-award-winning Les Misérables, Ladj Ly’s searing snapshot of corruption and simmering tensions in modern-day Paris; School Life, a comedy/drama set within a Saint Denis high school; Invisibles, which follows the unorthodox antics taken by an illegal women’s shelter to avoid closure; Oh Mercy!, a darkly compelling exposé of the human condition as observed by a police chief in Northern France; and the poignant rural drama, In the Name of the Land, starring Guillaume Canet as a farmer battling to maintain his dignity in the face of incessant setbacks.

In times of social, environmental and political uncertainty, cinema also looks to heroic figures for inspiration, a trend which is echoed via themes ranging from space travel (Proxima and How to Become an Astronaut); fairytale princes (The Lost Prince and Donkey Skin), political leaders (Alice and the Mayor and Savages); submarine soldiers (The Wolf’s Call) and spirits (Zombi Child).

High on the list of 2020 highlights is the international premiere of director Martin Provost’s How to Be a Good Wife. Set at a time when women were still expected to be largely subservient, this delicious comedy stars the luminous Juliette Binoche as the pristine head of a housekeeping school who, when faced with adversity, takes her first steps towards emancipation.

There’s also the hotly anticipated La Belle Époque, which tells the story of Victor (Daniel Auteuil) a disillusioned man who is given the opportunity to relive the great love-affair of his youth, and the whimsically romantic Notre-Dame – shot before last year’s horrific fire – about an architect who wins a competition to redesign the Notre-Dame esplanade; a movie which, given events of the past year, is now considered visionary.

And in celebration of its 50th anniversary, the Festival will present a restored version of the aforementioned, Donkey Skin, a luscious fairy-tale musical from legendary New-Wave director Jacques Demy, featuring a soundtrack by Michel Legrand and starring the eternal Catherine Deneuve who headlines four films in this year’s programme.

The Alliance Française French Film Festival screens at Palace Cinemas Raine Square (Perth CBD), Cinema Paradiso (Northbridge), Luna Palace Cinemas Windsor (Nedlands) and Luna on SX (Fremantle) from Wednesday, March 11 to Wednesday, April 8. For tickets and more information head to affrenchfilmfestival.org.

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