Showcasing a curated selection of powerful films from the past that still resonate today, the Alliance Française Classic Film Festival celebrates the rich legacy of French cinema by dedicating each year to a figure who has made an outstanding contribution to the French film industry.
The 2019 edition pays homage to one of the most critically acclaimed and beloved icons of French cinema; Isabelle Adjani. Recognisable by her distinctive dark hair, porcelain skin and captivating screen presence, Adjani’s magnetic allure transcends time. She is most renowned for her emotionally raw performances, particularly in her portrayal of strong yet tragic heroines. Adjani has appeared in 30 films since 1970 and holds the record for the most César Awards won for ‘Best Actress’ (four of these films are included in this year’s line-up). Additional accolades achieved throughout her astonishing career, include a double Cannes Film Festival Award in 1981 for ‘Best Actress’, two Academy Award nominations for ‘Best Actress’ and a ‘Chevalier de la Légion d'honneur’ in 2010.
The Alliance Française and Studiocanal will be presenting the following programme:
ALL FIRED UP
Tout feu, tout flamme - 1982 (Action, Comedy)
Director: Jeau-Paul Rappeneau
Cast: Isabelle Adjani, Yves Montand
Both Adjani and Montand shine in this entertaining farcical thriller, enhanced by a great cast and an amazing soundtrack, composed by the famous French singer Michel Berger. Pauline (Adjani) is suspicious when her absentee father returns home, and it turns out that she was right to be. The charming Victor Valance (Yves Montand) has returned to Paris to scrounge for money. A very particular struggle emerges between the two and soon enough, both father and daughter are fending off mobsters.
Sunday 10 November – 1:45 for a 2pm start (Opening Session – Includes a glass of sparkling & a macaron on arrival)
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La Reine Margot – 1994 (Drama) - RESTORED VERSION
Director: Patrice Chéreau
Cast: Isabelle Adjani, Daniel Auteuil
Queen Margot was Chéreau’s greatest success, having won the ‘Jury Prize’ at the 1994 Cannes Film Festival and five César Awards, including Adjani’s fourth ‘Best Actress’ Award. It is 1572 and tensions between Catholics and Protestants are at an all-time high. A luminous Isabelle Adjani plays Marguerite de Valois, a Catholic woman forced to wed prominent Protestant Huguenot Henri of Navarre. This unleashes a complex series of events, culminating in the notorious St. Bartholomew's Day massacre. Raging with unbridled passion, sex and violence, Queen Margot is a powerful and provocative film.
Sunday 10 November – 4:30pm
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Possession – 1981 (Drama, Horror)
Director: Andrzej Zulawski
Cast: Isabelle Adjani, Sam Neill
Fascinating, unrelenting, evil, deranged and perverted, this psychological horror drama defies easy classification and was delivered by one of the most revolutionary filmmakers to emerge from Poland after World War II, Andrzej Zulawski. Adjani’s performance garnered both César and Cannes Film Festival Awards for ‘Best Actress’. After requesting a divorce from her husband with no obvious explanation, Mark (Sam Neil) is suspicious and sets out to uncover the truth. He decides to follow his wife Anna (Adjani), who displays increasingly disturbing behaviour. Eventually, Mark’s suspicions of infidelity give way to something far more sinister.
Sunday 17 November – 2pm
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ONE DEADLY SUMMER
L’été meurtrier – 1983 (Drama)
Director: Jean Becker
Cast: Isabelle Adjani, Alain Souchon, Michel Galabru
An adaptation of Sébastien Japrisot’s novel, this film garnered four Césars in 1983, including ‘Best Original Screenplay’ and ‘Best Editing’. It is spring 1976 and the alluring Eliane Wieck (Adjani) moves to a sun-drenched provincial town in Southern France, accompanied by her introverted mother and disabled father. Pin-Pon (Alain Souchon), a local car mechanic, instantly falls in love with her. They are soon married, however circumstances around Eliane’s arrival remain mysterious. What prompted the family’s move in the first place? Is Eliane really in love? Adjani delivers a captivating performance as a traumatised woman harbouring a terrible secret, which would earn her a second César.
Sunday 17 November – 4:30pm
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THE STORY OF ADELE H.
L’histoire d’Adèle H. – 1975 (Drama)
Director : François Truffaut
Cast: Isabelle Adjani, Bruce Robinson
After witnessing Isabelle Adjani’s superb performance in The Slap, director François Truffaut knew that she had to star in his next film, which was based upon the real diary of Adèle Hugo, daughter of renowned French writer Victor Hugo. At only 19 years of age, Adjani received great critical acclaim for this performance, garnering an Academy Award nomination and making her the youngest ‘Best Actress’ nominee ever at the time. In 1863, Adèle (daughter of renowned French writer Victor Hugo) is madly in love with British lieutenant Albert Pinson (Bruce Robinson). Despite the Lieutenant rejecting her affections, Adèle’s obsession grows and she eventually succumbs to her wild delusions.
Sunday 24 November – 1pm
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Camille Claudel – 1988 (Drama) - RESTORED VERSION
Director: Bruno Nuytten
Cast: Isabelle Adjani, Gérard Depardieu
Adjani hired Bruno Nuytten (with whom she shares a son) as director of this multi-award winning film. Set at the beginning of the 1880s, Isabelle Adjani co-produces and stars in this sensual and impassioned biopic, recounting the story of Camille Claudel and her tumultuous relationship with sculptor Auguste Rodin (Gérard Depardieu). Earning five Césars and Adjani a nomination for ‘Best Actress’ at the Academy Awards, this is not a film about sculpture so much as one about an ambitious woman who is driven to insanity and imprisoned by the societal conventions of her time.
Sunday 24 November – 3pm
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About Isabelle Adjani
Born on the 27th of June 1955 in Paris, France, Isabelle Adjani began acting at the age of 12. She started out acting in amateur theatre and at the age of 14 starred in her first motion picture, Le Petit Bougnat. In 1972, she joined the Comédie-Française where she made a name for herself in L’école des femmes (The School for Wives, Molière) in which she played the role of Agnès. She soon left the theatre to pursue a career in film. She had minor roles in several films before receiving modest success in the 1974 film La Gifle (The Slap). After seeing the The Slap, François Truffaut decided to cast her as a major role in his next feature L’Histoire d’Adèle H. (1975; The Story of Adèle H.). Playing Adèle Hugo, the daughter of Victor Hugo, whose obsessive unrequited love for a military officer lead to her downfall, brought her international fame. At just 19 years of age, Adjani was nominated for ‘Best Actress’ at the Academy Awards making her the youngest Best Actress nominee at the time – a record which she held for three decades!
Following this success, she went on to star in Hollywood films including The Driver (1978), which she only accepted to star in because she was a fan of Hill’s first film Hard Times (1975). During the 1970s and 80s she performed in French, English and German films including Possession by Andrzej Zulawski. Filmed in Berlin, this film won Adjani her first César award for her performance as a dangerous woman experiencing a nervous breakdown. It was for the French film L’Été meurtrier (1983; One Deadly Summer) that she won her second César, but which also caused a minor publicity scandal. While at the Cannes Film Festival to present the film in 1983, she caused a stir when she refused to pose for the paparazzi. As a consequence, when it was time for her to climb the famous steps, journalists all laid their cameras at their feet as a sign of protest, refusing to take her photo.
Beyond her work on screen, Adjani has also had a career in music and film production. In 1983, she surprised the world when she released her first album Pull marine written and produced by Serge Gainsbourg, and in 1988 she co-produced the biopic in which she also starred – Camille Claudel. She received her third César and second Oscar nomination for her role in this film, becoming the first French actress to receive two Oscar nominations.
Since 1970, Adjani has starred in more than 50 films. She still holds the record for the most César Awards for Best Actress which she won for Possession (1981), L’Été meurtrier (One Deadly Summer, 1983), Camille Claudel (1988), La Reine Margot (Queen Margot, 1994) and La journée de la jupe (Skirt Day, 2008). In 2010, she was made a Chevalier of the Legion of Honour (the highest order of merit in France) and in 2014 a Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters for her significant contribution to the arts
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