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The Reeler Blog

The French Delegation

By Clémentine Gallot

For a month typically associated with horror films and the dawn of award season, this October offers one of the year's most significant surges of French cinema New York has seen in a while. For obvious starters, the ongoing New York Film Festival features selections by Claude Chabrol (A Girl Cut in Two), Eric Rohmer (The Romance of Astrée and Céladon), Catherine Breillat (The Last Mistress) and Valeria Bruni Tedeschi (Actresses), closing Oct. 14 with the stirring, stylish Persepolis. A Franco-Iranian, black-and-white animated film about a young girl growing up in Tehran during the Iranian revolution (adapted from Marjane Satrapi's graphic novel series), the film was the Cannes Jury Prize winner last May.

Pardon my... you know: Noémie Lvovsky and Mathieu Amalric in Valeria Bruni Tedeschi's NYFF selection Actresses (Photo: Wild Bunch)

Also this weekend, however, French Institute Alliance Francaise's Crossing The Line Fall Festival will screen "outsider movies" (Once Upon A Time and Ode Pavillonaire) selected at the Centre Pompidou, the Parisian equivalent of MoMA. The Institute also offers a weekly series of films with scores by Alexandre Desplat, including A Hell of a Day, The Singer, The Queen and Read My Lips -- the latter of which Desplat will present in person Oct. 30.

Out at the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens, curator David Schwartz and Cahiers du Cinema's chief editor Jean-Michel Frodon have co-curated a program celebrating director Arnaud Desplechin (Oct 6-14). "I met Jean-Michel in March, and this was an opportunity to work with him again," Schwartz told The Reeler. "Plus, Les Cahiers have always appreciated American cinema." And while Frodon was in New York last spring to launch an English-language online version of France's most prestigious film review, he will return to kick off a 3-week Cahiers du Cinema US tour featuring Desplechin on the East Coast (in New York and Harvard) and Olivier Assayas in Berkeley. "The goal of the series," Frodon told The Reeler via e-mail, "is to show the movies that Les Cahiers defend, to discuss them with the filmmakers and to share a reflexion about cinema with those directors -- who will show other films than just theirs."

Desplechin, 46, who chronicled the drama of the Parisian bourgeoisie until his more recent, intimate works will screen La Sentinelle, My Sex Life... or How I Got Into an Argument, Esther Kahn and discuss his 2004 feature Kings and Queens. He paired his work with some of his favorite features (Truffaut's underappreciated 1971 effort Two English Girls) and films that have influenced him: perhaps unsurprisingly, Cassavetes' Faces; and Summer Interlude by Bergman, with whom he shared an obsession for theater. There will also be a new print of Alain Resnais' Je t'aime, Je t'aime, rarely shown in the States.

"France still has a very healthy and strong film industry," said Florence Almozini, curator of BAM's New French Films series. "[But] not all these films will make it into the US, so it's no surprise if most titles are quite unknown here." Welcoming most of the filmmakers to Brooklyn, the series will introduce fresh faces of Gallic cinema like Laurent Achard (Demented) and Philippe Faucon (The Betrayal); a screening of Je t'aime... moi non plus: Critics and Artists -- a documentary shot at Cannes by Pulp Fiction and Henry & June actress Maria De Medeiros -- will be followed by a panel discussion featuring Dave Kehr, Dennis Lim, Melissa Anderson and other New York film critics. "I loved Emmanuelle Cuau's film (Very Well, Thank You)," Almozini added. "It's very well-directed with a lot of dry humor and has great actors like Sandrine Kiberlain and Gilbert Melki. I also find it very representative of the contemporary French society -- a critique of the new political regime in France."

Director Michel Spinosa, who last presented a film in New York 10 years ago, rounds out the program with his psychological drama Anna M. "[He] got an incredible performance from the actress, Isabelle Carré," Almozini said. "She is as riveting as Isabelle Adjani in Truffaut's Adele H and is one of most amazing new French actresses today."

Posted at October 4, 2007 7:55 AM

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