11 July 2023

A taste of French cinema, motoring and wine in Wagga - the French Film festival is back

| Dione David
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Still from November showing a policeman looking into the distance

November delivers a thrilling deep dive into “one of the most incredible manhunts in European history”. Photos: AF FFF.

The “Quatorze Juillet” (14 July) – the French national day also known as Bastille Day – has become synonymous with one thing in the Riverina, according to Alliance Francaise de Wagga Wagga President Sue Savage.

She knows locals who put the French Film Festival into their calendars well in advance.

“We’ve been running it for 16 years, which is a remarkable achievement for a regional city,” Ms Savage says.

“People know to mark the second half of July for this event.”

Still from Masquerade with a red-haired woman in a red sequinned dress holding champagne

Pierre Niney, Isabelle Adjani and Francois Cluzet are electric in Masquerade.

Hitting Forum 6 Cinemas this week, opening night beckons you out of the house with delicious cheese and pate from local delicatessen Knights, canapes and wine.

Wagga’s French Film Festival will launch with the same film as the major cities – Masquerade.

Starring the biggest and best French actors of the moment – Pierre Niney, Isabelle Adjani and Francois Cluzet – it is a film about lust, money and the manipulation of very rich people on the French Riviera.

It’s described as scandalous, very entertaining and “very French” – the ideal opening night film.

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This year there will be nine films in total, all of which will be screened at least twice.

This includes Sugar and Stars, a film based on the true story of champion pastry chef Yazid Ichemrahen and starring influencer Riadh Belaiche.

“He is working hard to overcome adversity. He’s had a difficult youth and the system is stacked against him,” Ms Savage says.

“It shows how he made a name for himself as a patissier in spite of it all. It’s very inspiring.”

Still from Two Tickets to Greece showing Olivia Cote, Kristin Scott Thomas and Laure Calamy sitting on a chaise

Olivia Cote, Kristin Scott Thomas and Laure Calamy star in the wildly entertaining comedy Two Tickets to Greece.

The program is supported by local business sponsorship from Forum 6, the French bakery Artisan Baker, Knights delicatessen, Topsy Turvey Newsagency and Wagga Motors.

On display will be a Renault RS Arkana – an SUV coupe which is the ideal display vehicle for the French Film Festival, according to Wagga Motors Renault Dealer Principal Richard Braid.

“It oozes luxury with large screen displays and a chic interior,” he says.

Mr Braid says the festival program title that has his attention is the unmissable thriller November.

Billed as “an edge-of-your-seat, deep dive into one of the most incredible manhunts in European history”, it follows the lead investigators of the French antiterrorism services in the aftermath of the 2015 Paris attacks.

“The French Film Festival is the perfect winter event – a chance to cosy up and watch a movie … and I love a good crime thriller.”

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Forum 6 Manager Craig Lucas says it’s hard to pick a favourite from the stellar lineup, which includes films that aren’t yet on general release.

“It’s very exciting to get to see them before they’re released across Australia, and a great chance to see films you wouldn’t normally see,” he says.

“There’s a variety of genres including dramas, comedy, thrillers, romance and a children’s title.”

Ms Savage says the French Film Festival is done a little differently in Wagga.

“It’s a collaboration between the Alliance Francaise de Wagga Wagga, Forum 6 and our amazing sponsors,” she says.

“We’re fortunate to have a cinema that’s so obliging and happy to work with us to do this each year, and local businesses that are supportive.

“They make it possible for Wagga Wagga to get a taste of this beautiful culture without having to travel to big cities.”

The French Film Festival Wagga Wagga will take place from 14 to 25 July at Forum 6 – see the full program and book tickets here.

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