This Is the Most Diverse LineupMarch 13, 2015

Film enthusiasts in Sydney and Melbourne have something to plan until March 22. The French Film Festival kicked off a few days ago, and the organisers have something for everyone.

Artistic director Emmanuelle Denavit-Feller wanted this annual event to highlight the connection between France and Australia. But Sydneysiders and Melbournians who have attended the previous editions of the festival knew better. They have noted the following:

1. Hollywood produced more films, but France would not be far away. Two hundred French films a year. A huge figure. In fact, the 83 movies submitted for the Best Foreign Language Film category at this year's Academy Awards included twelve co-produced with France. One was "Timbuktu", a Mauritanian drama that earned a nomination.

2. French co-productions would offer diversity of styles, settings and subjects. It was different - and refreshing - than Hollywood pictures. Many were remade for the American audience, which would tell about its quality.

3. Many French actors and filmmakers have worked with Hollywood. Only a handful won the Oscar, but that might change after Marion Cotillard was nominated for "Two Days, One Night". She became the first actor to be nominated twice for a non-English feature.

This year's lineup includes David Oelhoffen's "Far From Men" (starring Viggo Mortensen of the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy), Celine Sciamma's "Girlhood", which gave the native of Pontoise a Best Director nomination in this year's Cesar Awards, and "Samba", the latest by Eric Toledano and Olivier Nakache, the directors of "The Intouchables".

If you're having second thoughts about attending this event, then it might be better to look for a copy of the following movies. It would change your mind:

"Beauty and the Beast" (1946) by Jean Cocteau. There have been many live-action versions of fairy tales, but not one came close to this adaptation of Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont's charming story. Could it be the gorgeous production design? Was it the hypnotic score? How about the dreamy script? It would be all - and much more.

"The 400 Blows" (1959) by Francois Truffaut. This bleak feature was a turning point in French Cinema. It marked the beginning of the New Wave, which would create a ripple. But those who have seen too many movies knew that. Truffaut's debut feature, which won the Cannes Film Festival Award for Best Director, was somber and tender, which was somehow refreshing back then.

"The Umbrellas of Cherbourg" (1964) by Jacques Demy. Expect to be captivated by Michel Legrand's music, which followed a young couple in love. But the French-Algerian war would test them. Don't expect a Hollywood ending.

"Black and White in Color" (1976) by Jean-Jacques Annaud. The scathing depiction of French colonists in West Africa during World War I amused moviegoers, but there was something else. It revealed our penchant for discrimination, which would make us uneasy.

"Jean de Florette" (1986) by Claude Berri. This adaptation of Marcel Pagnol's novel followed two farmers who were looking for the source of water in rural Provence. It was an illustration of how greed would bring out the worst out of anyone. It was also a journey of hope.

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