By Martin Vedris

SYDNEY: Stand by for a month of French culture as Australian cities are overcome by the 20th Alliance French Film Festival presented by Tefal, which runs from 4 March to 5 April with 400 screenings of over 35 films in cinemas across the country.

The Alliance French Film Festival presented by Tefal commences 4 March in Sydney and this year the festival will celebrate its 20th Anniversary with a special function held at the National Art School prior to screening.

According to Groupe SEB, the Australia Tefal distributor, the festival’s opening night will premiere Paris 36, a film directed by Christophe Baratier and stars Gérard Jugnot, Colvis Cornillac and Kad Merad.

Gerard Jugnot will be a special guest on the Gala Evening for both Sydney and Melbourne. The movie reportedly has been very well received since its initial screening in France and according to Groupe SEB it is critically acclaimed for its strong performances and emotive story telling.

Groupe SEB is the Gold sponsor of the Alliance French Film Festival. The festival is the largest outside of France and one of the most popular film festivals in Australia.

“The Festival has a very strong following here,” said Groupe SEB managing director, Wivina Chaneliere.

“It has been in Australia for now 20 years and it continues a strong tradition in screening popular French Films.”

The film festival generally attracts over 80,000 attendees every year and numbers are up each year as awareness grows.

This year the French Film Festival will aim to present a richer and diverse selection of popular French Films to capture the imagination and essence of French cinema. The selections will cover a number of genres including comedy, romance, drama, action and short documentaries.

“This diversity reflects the broad appeal of the French cinematic experience in Australia and the growing consumer interest for cultural events,” said Chaneliere.

This year’s Festival will feature a strong line up of artists including Juliette Binoche, Vincent Cassel, Virginie Ledoyen, Catherine Deneuve, Daniel Auteuil, Mathieu Amalric, Emmanuelle Beart, Gerard Depardieu, Gérard Jugnot, Ludivine Sagnier, Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi.

Groupe SEB will also undertake a consumer promotion to support its sponsorship initiative.

All consumers who purchase a Tefal product between the 1 March and 16 May will have a chance to win a number of prizes. The major prize being offered is a return trip to France for two as well as other prizes including kitchen makeovers, electrical and cookware prizes — the total prize pool is valued over $50,000.