Say 'bonjour' to the best of French cinema with Alliance Francaise French Film Festival (AFFFF) in its 30th anniversary.
That's 30 years of cross-cultural exchange through the medium of film, and for the past three years the man responsible for much of the festival's success has been its Artistic Director Philippe Platel.
“These past 30 years and particularly the past 10 years, the festival has become a big hit,” Philippe says. “Last year we attracted almost 185,000 spectators internationally, which is really amazing; it was our biggest year yet.”
“I'm in charge of the programming and I select the films, and I'm also in charge of invitations to the guests from Paris – directors and actors, and also Australian patrons from the cinema industry.”
In his time as Artistic Director (AD), Philippe has helped oversee several key developments for AFFFF as well as secure high-profile visitors. This year, Philippe has excelled himself by convincing acclaimed French director Jacques Audiard to come to Australia for the very first time.
“I am very happy because these past three years I succeeded in having really great guests each year – filmmakers and actors,” Philippe says.
“This year we have two amazing guests – Jacques Audiard and Gilles Lellouche. Jacques Audiard never came to Australia, he doesn't travel so often anymore and is just one of the most acclaimed film directors in the world, so I'm very, very proud of it.”
One of Philippe's top picks for the festival this year is Audiard's first-ever Western film 'The Sisters Brothers', shot in English with an American cast.
“I know that people don't expect to see French films in English and with an American cast when they go to the French Film Festival, but it's such an amazing film,” he says.
'The Sisters Brothers'
During his tenure as AD Philippe has also developed the programming of the festival to include a broader spectrum of content, including LGBT and genre films.
“I'm also trying to find a new focus on new things, on new genres,” he says.
“Last year we launched the first LGBT section to celebrate the marriage equality in Australia, and we still have an LGBT section in this year. This year I also added a section dedicated to genre films, which are the zombie films and thrillers, which the younger audience likes.”
At the 30-year mark for AFFFF, Philippe says Australians possess a true love for French cinema. More than that though, he believes the very basis of our international friendship lies in the history of Australian filmmaking, which funnily enough has its own French connection.
“125 years ago the first film done in Australia was done by a French-Australian collaboration,” Philippe explains.
“The Lumiere brothers when they invented cinema, in France, just one year after their first screenings they sent people all around the world to promote their technology and one of them, called Marius Sestier, filmed the first Australian film with an Australian partner [Henry Walter Barnett]. They shot the Melbourne Cup for the very first time .”
Alliance Francaise French Film Festival runs across various venues throughout March and April around the country. Click here for information on venues and dates.