Natalie Portman and Lily-Rose Depp star as psychic sisters in Planetarium, the highlight of this year’s Alliance Française French Film Festival program.

Since 1990, the Alliance Française French Film Festival has invited Australian audiences to embark on a voyage of discovery through the most sophisticated, vibrant and daring films from France.

This year’s festival is no exception, opening with The Odyssey, director Jérôme Salle’s epic examination of the chaotic life of celebrity oceanographer Jacques Cousteau, starring the impossibly handsome Lambert Wilson as Cousteau (and the brilliant Audrey Tautou as his wife, Simone).

A Bun in the Oven, writer-director Nadège Loiseau’s debut feature about a reluctant 49-year-old mother-to-be (played by French comedy star Karin Viard), will end the festival on a hilarious and emotional note.

In between, we’ll get plenty of big stars and must-see stories, including two films starring 2017 Best Actress Academy Award nominee Isabelle Huppert (Things to Come and Souvenir), two films starring Marion Cotillard (It’s Only the End of the World and From the Land of the Moon), a slapstick showcase for Juliette Binoche in Slack Bay, a great role for the ubiquitous Gerard Depardieu in Saint Amour, and an environmental documentary co-directed by Inglourious Basterds star Mélanie Laurent, Tomorrow.

Fans of The Intouchables, one of the biggest French films of all time, will be thrilled to see that film’s star, Omar Sy, team up with James Thierrée (Charlie Chaplin’s grandson) in Monsieur Chocolate, the rise-and-fall story of a former slave who becomes the first popular Afro-Cuban artist on the French stage.

Those looking for a crash course in French filmmaking will love Bertrand Tavernier’s A Journey Through French Cinema, a tribute to greats like Francois Truffaut and Jean Renoir, as well as the unsung heroes you might not have heard of.

But the most popular film on the program will, surely, be Planetarium starring Natalie Portman — the favourite to win Best Actress at this year’s Oscars — and Lily-Rose Depp (the daughter of Johnny Depp) as psychic American sisters travelling through pre-war Europe. Portman and Depp’s performances are being billed as “intense, terrifying and provocative”, and the festival programmers are obviously expecting a big turn-out for this one, with 14 sessions on sale now.

The Alliance Française French Film Festival will be held at Palace Centro and Palace Barracks from Thursday 16 March to Sunday 9 April; for more info and tickets, visit affrenchfilmfestival.org.