A guide to French cinema in Melbourne

French cinema is a treasure trove of cultural gems, from the poetic realism of the 1930s to the quirky charm of the Nouvelle Vague to the gritty violence of contemporary French horror movies. French films are vibrant, creative, unusual and captivating (at least, the good ones are). Watching French films is one of the finest ways to strengthen your knowledge of French history and culture, hone your listening and accent and boost your general language skills. It’s also a damn fine way to spend an evening out.

Brigitte Bardot in Jean-Luc Godard's Le Mépris (1962).

Brigitte Bardot in Jean-Luc Godard’s Le Mépris (1962).

We may be on the other side of the world to the Hexagone, but that doesn’t mean we can’t immerse ourselves in French cinema right here in Melbourne. Here are some of the best ways to go about it:

Cinema Nova.

Cinema Nova.

Cinema Nova

A stone’s throw from the uni campus, Nova usually shows a couple of French or Francophone films at a time. They always get the Palme d’or winner too, so you can keep up with what’s in favour at Cannes each year.

Palace Cinema, Como.

Palace Cinema, Como.

Palace Cinemas

Similar to Nova, Palace shows a lot of popular films, but selects them carefully; you can usually trust their choices, even if you don’t know much about the film you’re going to see. They often screen the year’s biggest French films. Plus every March, they host…

The Melbourne French Film Festival

This is the biggest French film event in the city, and each year the selection gets bigger and bigger. A lot of mediocre romantic comedies do tend to make their way into the program, but  do your research and you can discover many wonderful films. I always look forward to that time of year when I get my little festival guide book,  pore through what’s on offer and circle my choices. They are generally very numerous.

Eva Mendes and Denis Lavant in Léos Carax's Holy Motors (2012).

Eva Mendes and Denis Lavant in Léos Carax’s Holy Motors (2012).

The Melbourne International Film Festival

The biggest cinema event in Melbourne never fails to deliver a sophisticated selection of French films. I’ve been consistently impressed with how many retrospectives they’ve done of fascinating French filmmakers, from Jean Epstein to Léos Carax. This is probably the best place to discover what’s new and fantastic in the French film world.

Jean-Paul Belmondo and Jean Seberg in Jean-Luc Godard's A Bout de Souffle (1960).

Jean-Paul Belmondo and Jean Seberg in Jean-Luc Godard’s A Bout de Souffle (1960).

The University of Melbourne

A tiny little plug for the subject I’m overjoyed to be teaching this semester: French Cinema: The New Wave and Beyond, with Dr Andrew McGregor. Come join us to watch a range of beautiful and crazy films and chat about them in French! This is always a really popular and loved subject.

Do you have another suggestions for enjoying French cinema in Melbourne? Please share in the comments.

By Gemma King.

Photo credits:

  1. The Gorgeous Daily
  2. B Wired
  3. Cinema Treasures
  4. Holy Motors, Léos Carax
  5. A Bout de Souffle, Jean-Luc Godard
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About frenchatmelbourne

Students, alumni and friends of the Melbourne University French Studies Network

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