Benjamin Zeccola is CEO of Palace Cinemas, who run an ongoing slate of international film festivals across Australia throughout the year, including the French, Italian, Spanish, German, Scandinavian, British, Irish and Japanese Film Festivals. On this episode of Movieland, Benjamin talks about the humble beginnings and current strengths of his festival slate, the audience demand for such content, the challenges and rewards of sourcing and programming so much global product, and why Australia just may be the best country in the world for seeing European cinema on the big screen. This discussion will also form the basis for a future article in Metro Magazine and is posted with Metro’s permission.
Juho Kuosmanen’s COMPARTMENT NO. 6 is up there with Petite Maman as the best film thus far of 2022. I originally chose it at the Sydney Film Festival 2021 as armchair travel: when am I gonna take a train in the Arctic circle? As such it doesn’t disappoint: this is a film that really takes you places; the milieu is astonishing. But the characters are so richly drawn, and the performances so winning, I got a lot more than I bargained for. It’s rich, moving, funny and charming. It’s the kind of film cinemas are made for: watching it at home alone simply would not be the same. The visuals demand the big screen, the sound demands the big audio, and the story demands an audience: one falls for these characters collectively, incrementally, tangibly, audibly. It’s an experience. Don’t miss it.
My friend and colleague Octavia Barron Martin loved it too. Listen to us rave about it, and be a little more critical about episode 5 of HBO’s IRMA VEP, here on the Movieland podcast:
Now playing around Australia as part of the Alliance Française French Film Festival
Opening in Australian cinemas April 8
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From her very first scene in the very first episode of the French TV series Call My Agent, it was clear that Laure Calamy was a big comedic talent, destined for more than her supporting role in that very popular show. Bingo. She just won the César Award for Best Actress for her lead role in Caroline Vignal’s Antoinette in the Cévennes, a very slight, very light, very charming French countryside comedy whose success rests entirely on her shoulders. She’s not only in every scene, about half of them are with a donkey. She makes all of them work. Like Meg Ryan, Julia Roberts and Audrey Tatou, Calamy is a natural big-screen comedy star; like them, she has big dramatic chops in support.
The film itself is sunny and delightful (like Calamy). Antoinette is a Parisian teacher having an affair with a married man; when he goes on a trip with his family to the Cévennes, she follows, ill-advisedly, and ends up hiking with a donkey. Self-realisation follows.
Calamy nails every comedic beat but there are multiple moments of pathos and anguish which she also handles with seemingly effortless aplomb. She is a major screen presence. It is to the Césars’ credit that they’ve recognised this kind of performance, in this kind of film, for their Best Actress Award. Light comedy normally doesn’t get that kind of gong, unfairly. And talk about ‘backwards and in heels’: Calamy’s primary co-star is a donkey.