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French Film Fest launches with César boost

The Alliance Française French Film Festival (AFFFF) held its launch in Auckland Wednesday evening, treating attendees to a screening of Guillaume Nicloux’s US-shot Valley of Love (pictured, top) and, for those wilting from the humidity, other rejuvenating treats courtesy of sponsor L’Oréal.

A couple of hours after that launch, Valley of Love was one of seven titles from this year’s festival line-up picking up nominations back home at France’s primary gongfest, the César Awards. Valley of Love took three nominations, including ones for the lead actors of a film that’s almost a two-hander, Gérard Depardieu and Isabelle Huppert.

Xavier Giannoli’s AFFFF title Marguerite tied for the most nominations at this year’s Césars, collecting 11. Jacques Audiard’s 2015 Palme d’Or winner Dheepan, also an AFFFF pick, received nine César nods. Maiwenn’s Mon Roi (Best Actress winner at Cannes last year for Emmanuelle Bercot) took eight César nominations. All three titles’ nominations include Best Film and Best Director.

Courted, for which Sidse (right) has a Cesar nod as Best Actress

Courted, for which Sidse Babett Knudsen (right) has a César nod as Best Supporting Actress

The César awards will be presented 27 Febraury (NZ time), which should allow the AFFFF to get some publicity out of the winners while the festival is still playing Auckland and Wellington and ahead of its trips to smaller centres.

This year is the tenth edition of the AFFFF here and it will deliver a whopping 35 features plus – in what’s becoming a popular programming move for festivals in recent years – the opening episodes of a couple of TV series. Anglo-French co-pro title The Last Panthers is one of the two.

French speaking Kiwi actress Antonia Prebble has five selections in the programme in her role as festival patron. Her picks include Venice-premiered Courted, from which subtitle lovers will recognise César nominee Sidse Babett Knudsen from her time as the feisty Danish PM in Borgen.

Bookending the AFFFF line-up are Julien Rappeneau’s Rosalie Blum, which will have its international premiere when it opens the Wellington leg of the festival, and Marcel Carne’s 1939 gem Daybreak (Le Jour se Leve) closing the festival.

The 2016 Alliance Française French Film Festival will play in 12 cities, opening in Wellington on 17 February and Auckland on 25 February.

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