Vive le Difference! The Alliance Française French Film Festival across NZ

The Alliance Française French Film Festival finishes its Auckland run tonight with an adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, a movie that has had many spins on it over the years. In Mrs Hyde, a timid and eccentric school teacher Madame Gequil. Her life undertakes a dramatic change when a lightning strike unleashes a dark alter ego.

The Festival now heads off into the regions, so if you missed any movies during the Auckland run, make a dash for Palmerston North or Dunedin where the it runs until April.

Although the festival movies cover a range of themes, at the heart of all of them are human stories, refreshing in an age dominated by superhero blockbuster movies. The Dare to Love selection features movies that investigate love, loss, and disease and relationships with a distinctly French style

Jen-Luc Goddard fans have a double treat – a screening of his 1961 A Woman is a Woman, and the biopic Redoubtable, in the Iconic Artists section which also features Gauguin, a lushly filmed exploration of the artist’s arrival in Tahiti.

However, there is nothing that can match a French comedy, as anyone who has watched a Hollywood remake will attest, and there a treats aplenty for comedy lovers.

A highlight, and one most of us can relate to, is Les Exes, a story of five different couples and the trouble they have with their exes.

And no one does coming of age stories quite like the French, either. My favourite, Aurore tackles a new generation – a woman rediscovering love and life in our fifties when we think nothing lies ahead but the scrapheap, while in Ava, a teenager has to come to terms with losing her eyesight and what it will mean for her life ahead.

A hundred years on from its end, three films explore the first world war on a human level.: Les Gardiennes, See You Up There and Ceasefire. These aren’t grand war movies but tales of its impact on survivors and those that were left behind.

A range of documentary and feature films focus on stories of France and New Caledonia. A highlight is Faces Places which follows French New Wave Legend Agnes Varda, now in her eighties and a 30-somethig photographer JR on a journey across France. Varda was recently awarded an Honorary Oscar for her lifetime achievement as the first ever women director.

This is Our Land is a fascinating examination at the rise of far right in France, and no French Film Festival would be complete without Gerad Depardieu who features in Tour De France, who a road trip movie where is paired with a young gangster rapper as an unlikely chauffeur.

For true French film fans, The Graduation is a must see. It is a behind the door look at the judging process for film students wishing to enter Les Fermis, the world’s most prestigious film school in a cinéma-vérité-style documentary.

Find dates and venues for The Alliance Français French Film Festival here.