The French Film Festival turns 15 this year. Over the years it has grown in popularity, providing an opportunity for lovers of French cinema to see a range of films having their Australian premiere. This year is no exception as 17 films will screen between now and 30 March, with only a handful slated for a general release later in the year. All films are in French with English subtitles. The full program for the festival can be viewed online at www.frenchfilmfestival.org.

The opening night film is Jean-Paul Rappenau’s comedy Bon Voyage starring Isabelle Adjani, G?rd Depardieu, Virginie Ledoyen, Gr?ri D?ng? and Yvan Attal. comedy Bon Voyage received 11 C?r nominations for 2004, including Best Film, Screenplay, Director, New Actor and Cinematography. Set during World War II, it’s a sophisticated spoof of a French farce and was France’s selection for the 2004 Academy Awards.

Depuis qu’Otar est parti (Since Otar Left) is the feature debut from documentary maker Julie Bertucelli. The film won the Critics’ Week Grand Prize for best film at Cannes in 2003. It is based on a true story and centres on the lives of three generations of women and is set in Georgia, a country in the former Soviet Union. It is a gentle tale of love and loss and is considered to be one of the most subtly resonant French films screened in the festival in recent years.

Les Invasions Barbares is Montr? writer-director Denys Arcand’s second film in French since 1989. It has already won many awards including Best Actress and Script at Cannes in 2003 and Best Foreign Language Film at this year’s Oscars. In recent years, Arcand has been best known for having directed Jesus of Montr? but some readers may remember his 1986 film Le D?in de L’Empire Am?cain (The Decline Of The American Empire) which looked at a circle of intellectuals whose liberal ideas fell into disarray while they sought refuge from ennui in unimpeded sexual activity. It was one of the most successful foreign films of its time. Les Invasions Barbares reunites the characters of Le D?in and looks at their lives 17 years later. It is not necessary to have seen the earlier film to appreciate this exploration of the universal themes of love, faith, family and death.

It’s not everyday that a feature-length animation in French receives two Academy Award nominations alongside the likes of Finding Nemo. Les Triplettes de Belleville (The Triplets Of Belleville) did just that and despite not winning either of the Oscars, the media attention will encourage more people to discover its charms for themselves. French-Canadian writer-director Sylvain Chomet’s film carries you into his darkly comic world where selfishness, cruelty and corruption reign supreme until they are fought by Madame Souza and the Triplets of Belleville. The soundtrack is seductive and the film wonderful.

INFO Tickets: Palace Academy Twin and Palace Norton Street are each selling tickets only for their own screenings. Tickets for both venues can be purchased from MCA ticketing using all major credit cards. Call 9645 1611 between 9:30am and 4pm weekdays only. Tickets are also available securely online at www.frenchfilmfestival.org.

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