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NYC Film Festivals

Dahan, Dumont en Route for Rendez-Vouz

By Clémentine Gallot

Another March, another high point for French film in New York as the 12th edition of the Rendez-Vous with French Cinema series launches tonight at Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall. Featuring 16 contemporary titles -- all US premieres -- the program continues through March 11 at both the Walter Reade Theater and downtown at IFC Center. And while the opening-night selection La Vie en Rose / La Môme, Olivier Dahan's film biography of singer Edith Piaf, and Francis Veber's heavy closing-night comedy The Valet gives a somewhat conventional view of French cinema, that's not all there is to it; some of France's most interesting filmmakers -- including Bruno Dumont (whose movie Flandres stirred up controversy last year at Cannes), Benoit Jacquot (The Untouchable) and Christophe Honoré (Dans Paris) -- will be attending their films' American debuts.


Marion Cotillard as Edith Piaf in La Vie en Rose / La Môme, the opening-night selection of this year's Rendez-Vous with French Cinema series (Photo: Bruno Calvo)

"I select the films the old-fashioned way," wrote Film Society of Lincoln Center program director Richard Peña in an e-mail to The Reeler. "I see them in Paris, Cannes and New York and then figure out which ones I like and how they might fit together into a good program." Conceived in association with the legendary magazine Cahiers du Cinema just a few months after the Walter Reade Theater opened in 1992, the series came into its own in 1996 as a co-presentation with the French film marketing and outreach organization Unifrance.

"It seems to me that in 2007 we have achieved a very nice balance in the show," Peña added, citing the range from "auteurist" work like Dumont's to genre pictures (Tell No One, The Page Turner) and popular comedies (I Do!, The Valet). Most of the filmmakers will be present for discussions following the screenings. "I think we've always tried to make Rendez-Vous a series in which the broad spectrum of French film is presented, and this year I think we've come close to succeeding."

Also worth noting is the series' homage to the late French producer Humbert Balsan, who backed independent filmmakers like Claire Denis and Lars Von Trier; he died in 2005. "Humbert Balsan was a major force in French cinema as well as a dear friend," said Peña. "He contributed many, many films to our programs. We had been wanting to do a tribute to him, and the coincidence of Anne Aghion's documentary on him as
well as the release of Countdown, Sandrine Veysset's beautiful film and the last film on which Humbert worked before his death, made putting the tribute during this year's Rendez-Vous very attractive."

Rendez-Vous with French Cinema runs through March 11 at Lincoln Center and IFC Center; visit each venue's Web site for respective schedule and ticket information.

Posted at February 28, 2007 10:21 AM

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