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The 18th edition of the French Film Festival tours Australia through March and April, offers laughter, drama and melancholy – and lots of great French stars.

The Singer, a poignant romance starring Gérard Depardieu as a faded, middle-aged dance hall vocalist who falls for an unhappy woman half his age, played by the enchanting Cécile De France (Russian Dolls, The Spanish Apartment And Around The World In 80 Days), opened the 2007 Alliance Française French Film Festival last week.

Welcomed at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival, The Singer (Quand j’étais chanteur) is a melancholy romantic comedy. “Gerard Depardieu gives an exquisitely soulful performance in The Singer, a deceptively simple, yet affecting film about the poetry of love, the burden of loneliness and the thrill of a May December romance,” says Louise Keller. The film is one of 25 new features having their Australian debut at this year’s Festival, which will screen around Australia throughout March and April 2007. (See below for dates & venues.)

The Festival, now in its 18th year, attracted over 65,000 attendees in 2006 also features performances from screen luminaries such as Isabelle Huppert, Patrick Bruel, Jean Rochefort, Charlotte Rampling, Isabelle Nanty, Romain Duris, Guy Marchand, Daniel Auteuil, Isabelle Carré, André Dussollier, Lambert Wilson, Nathalie Baye, Jacques Perrin, Charlotte Gainsbourg and the legendary Danielle Darrieux.

Other Festival highlights singled out by Jean Jacques Garnier, Artistic Director of the Festival, include:

I DO (Prête moi ta main)

A huge box office hit in France, this delightful comedy, starring Alain Chabat and Charlotte Gainsbourg, introduces us to Luis (Chabat), a 43 year-old happily single man, whose mother and five sisters decide that he should be married, whether he wants to be or not. Realizing they won’t be dissuaded, Luis sets about ‘hiring’ a fake fiancée (Gainsbourg) who will cruelly dump him at the altar, thereby ensuring that nobody will ever ‘dare’ mention the word ‘marriage’ to him again!

TWICE UPON A TIME (Désaccord parfait)
Starring the timeless Charlotte Rampling and French cinema icon Jean Rochefort, this engaging comedy looks at two famous people – Alice, a London stage actress and Louis, a cult film director – who may or may not rekindle their relationship which ended inexplicably 30 years earlier.

THE COMEDY OF POWER (La comédie du pouvoir)
From director Claude Chabrol comes a drama based on the experiences of Judge Eva Joly, whose 7-year investigation into fraud and bribery at the French oil company Elf Aquitaine, uncovered a web of corporate deceit. The incomparable Isabelle Huppert stars as a steely judge who decides to investigate charges of corruption within a huge multi-national company; a decision that ultimately turns her life upside down.

THE PAGE TURNER (La tourneuse de pages)
The talented young daughter of a butcher has her dreams of becoming a concert pianist dashed when she fails a key music exam after being distracted by the thoughtless behaviour of one of the jurors. Several years later, she finds herself employed in that same juror’s household, with the possibility of revenge at her fingertips… Starring Catherine Frot, who helmed the 2005 Festival favourite, ME AND MY SISTER, and Déborah François of L’ENFANT fame.

OSS 117: CAIRO, NEST OF SPIES (OSS 117: Le caire, nid d’espions)
Based on author Jean Bruce's character OSS 117 who was created in 1949 and featured in no less than 265 novels and seven movies between 1956 and 1970, OSS 117 is a sparkling, witty spy caper starring comic favourite Jean Dujardin as the intrepid secret agent - a cross between James Bond and Maxwell Smart - who finds himself in 1950’s Cairo investigating a colleague’s mysterious demise.

MY BEST FRIEND (Mon meilleur ami)
The latest film from acclaimed director Patrice Leconte, stars Daniel Auteuil as François, a friendless antique dealer, whose business partner challenges him to introduce her to his best friend…within just ten days. Desperate not to lose the bet, François enlists the help of a charming taxi driver (Dany Boon) to pose as his ‘buddy’.

National dates for the 2007 Alliance Française French Film Festival are:

Sydney: Wednesday 7 March to Wednesday 21 March
Canberra: Thursday 15 March to Wednesday 21 March
Melbourne: Tuesday 20 March to Tuesday 3 April
Brisbane: Thursday 22 March to Wednesday 28 March
Adelaide: Tuesday 27 March to Monday 2 April
Perth: Thursday 29 March to Wednesday 4 April

For updates, see the official Festival site at: http://www.frenchfilmfestival.org/

Published March 15, 2007

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I Do - Prête moi ta main

Twice Upon a Time - Désaccord parfait

My Best Friend - Mon meilleur ami

Change of Address - Changement d'adresse

Orchestra Seats - Fauteuils d'orchestre

The Comedy of Power - La comedie du pouvoir

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