The 33rd Alliance Française French Film Festival opens around Australia in March. This year’s selection includes many films for people with a taste for social justice themes.
The hard-hitting courtroom drama, Goliath is based on real life struggles against the French agricultural pesticide industry. It weaves together multiple storylines to demonstrate how legal struggles depend on activism outside the courts.
Gilles Lellouche stars as the world-weary lawyer whose life is consumed in a battle against a pitiless corporation.
However, Goliath’s real scene stealer is Pierre Niney as the steely, emotionless corporate consultant who leads the company’s PR campaign. Rarely is psychopathic evil played with such oily charm, intelligence and subtlety.
Un Autre Monde (Another World) also gives a caustic look at the inner workings of corporate capitalism. It caused quite a stir when it was released in France earlier this year.
Actor Vincent Lindon plays a regional factory executive who has dedicated his life to the company, at the cost of his personal relationships. He maintains a respectful bond with the workers while appeasing his bosses and their American overlords.
When he is required to lay off workers he is confronted with the moral consequences and is backed into a corner.
Ouistreham (Between Two Worlds) features one professional actor, Juliette Binoche and a cast of women cleaners. The story is based on a bestselling non-fiction book, Le Quai de Ouistreham (published in English as The Night Cleaner).
A journalist gets a cleaning job on a ferryboat out of the port city of Ouistreham. Secretly, she is taking notes on all her workmates in preparation for a book, but comes to experience solidarity with them.
For a totally different feel there is the youthful love story, Twist à Bamako (Mali Twist) set in 1960’s post-colonial Mali. Inspired by the revolutionary hopes of national freedom, it is the story of a young socialist activist, Samba, doing political organising in the countryside.
There he meets Lara, a woman who has been forced into marriage. Together they flee to the city, vengefully pursued by Lara’s husband. As they seek solace in the modern influences of rock and roll and the twist the realities of neo-colonialism arise.
The story’s personal, political and cultural elements are an allegory for the hold of reactionary ideology corrupting Mali. Today, Mali is facing an Islamist uprising and competing neo-colonial interventions from France and Russia, so Twist à Bamako could not be more timely.
Authentik is a biopic showing the rise of the French hip-hop duo, Suprême NTM.
In the early 1990s, rap music was virtually unknown in France, but violence between cops and Black and Muslim kids was rife. So, when Suprême NTM erupted out of the tough neighbourhood of Seine-Saint-Denis it was like a lightning bolt.
The film “highlights the gritty, dark and sometimes violent style of the band who harnessed their hardcore approach to speak out against racism and later advocate for non-violent protest”.
More information about the Alliance Française French Film Festival can be found at affrenchfilmfestival.org.