The Alliance Française de Sydney is keeping Aussie Francophiles in fine fettle with its latest cinema program. Six months on from the 2015 Alliance Française French Film Festival – a celebration of contemporary cinema from France – the language and cultural centre is mining its country’s rich cinematic history to bring a season of classic films to Sydney.

Timeless star Catherine Deneuve has been chosen as the focus of the retrospective. Her vast and varied body of work – dating from the late–‘50s to present day – has resulted in a diverse program of six carefully chosen films.

“We wanted to showcase films that represent Deneuve’s career,” says Patricia Noeppel-Detmold, the Alliance Française de Sydney’s cultural events and festival manager. “So we chose films of different genres, directors and times.”

See Deneuve all-singing, all-dancing in opening night film The Young Girls of Rochefort, in which she stars alongside her sister Françoise Dorléac and Gene Kelly. This 1967 film has been newly restored and is Noeppel-Detmold’s highlight. “The colours look absolutely beautiful,” she says,

Deneuve is a young, starry-eyed lover in 1964 musical The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, and a repressed homemaker turned afternoon prostitute in Luis Buñuel’s surrealistic classic Belle de Jour.

There’s also crime drama, A Cop, from 1972 and the epic Indochina (which earned Deneuve an Oscar nomination when it was released in 1992). From 2010 there is comedy Potiche, in which Deneuve stars opposite Gérard Depardieu.

Film writer and the festival’s patron, Garry Maddox, will introduce selected films to put them in the context of Deneuve's career.

Noeppel-Detmold hopes this will be the first of more classic film festivals to come and considers French cinema one of the next best things to actually being in France. “You’ve got the landscape, culture, food, wine and fashion … it’s one of easiest ways to immerse yourself.”

Alliance Française Classic Film Festival runs at Event Cinemas George Street and Hayden Orpheum Cremorne from September 3–6.

afsydney.com.au