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Rendezvous with French Cinema Series Brings Us New Titles By World-Class Directors

french cinThis year's installment of the Rendezvous with French Cinema series, The 19th edition -- presented by the Film Society of Lincoln Center and Unifrance Films -- annually showcases a slice of contemporary French film of the previous year.

Running from March 6th through the 16th, 2014, this festival features several interesting new works at three venues: The Film Society, the IFC Center and BAMcinématek.

In François Ozon's Young & Beautiful, a gorgeous 17-year-old — Marine Vacth, in a striking, quasi-Bressonian performance — decides to become a call-girl. The director's films are consistently stylistically accomplished and this is no exception — his handling of camera-movement, camera-placement, composition for the frame, and editing are remarkable.

Ozon, working from his own screenplay, achieves some unexpected pathos and his refusal to explain his protagonist is admirable, although I would have appreciated greater artistic ambition here, as I would regarding the director's other films.

The digital image in Young & Beautiful is mostly handsome although some sensuality is attenuated in scenes with bright light. The sphinx-like Charlotte Rampling has a memorable cameo and the great French actress, Nathalie Richard, is featured in a small role. A final bonus is the expressive use of several Françoise Hardy songs on the film’s soundtrack, each one marking a passage of time.

In Jacques Doillon’s Love Battles, from the director’s own screenplay, a young woman engages in a series of erotic and romantic confrontations with a man whom she has fixated upon. Doillon is faithful to his austere conception and risks tedium in the pursuit of artistic honesty and refusal to charm but this certainly has many of the impressive qualities that distinguish the director’s original body of work.

The intertwining of aggression and hostility with vulnerability and tenderness is remarkable here and the female lead, Sara Forestier, gives an especially compelling performance. The film is shot in a relatively loose style, with a lot of handheld shots, generating an unusual intimacy. The use of a digital format, however, proves to be a serious liability as the copious bright sunshine in the film washes out the image due to the narrow range of contrast.

Agnès Jaoui's entertaining Under the Rainbow is about, among other things, a romance between a music student and the daughter of an industrialist, interspersed with fairy-tale elements. Working with her regular writing partner, Jean-Pierre Bacri — who brilliantly co-stars with Jaoui here — the filmmaker has constructed an clever screenplay with excellent dialogue. The mise-en-scène, however, is undisciplined, lacking the  elegance of an earlier feature like Look at Me. This weakness is further compounded by the inadequacies of the digital format.

love-battles-resizedSerge Bozon's eccentric Tip Top follows the investigation by two Internal Affairs operatives into the murder of an immigrant Algerian informant. The unusual tone here is engaging and it’s pleasurably disorienting effect is enhanced by delightful, comic performances by Isabelle Huppert and Sandrine Kiberlain, in the lead roles. The director's style is formally controlled and characterized by abundant visual wit although the formal splendors are hampered by the deficiencies of the digital format. (The intriguing Bozon was the subject of a Film Society retrospective a few years ago.)

Bertrand Tavernier's Quai d'Orsay observes the circus-like atmosphere in which a newly hired young speechwriter attempts to please his employer, a Minister of foreign affairs. Thierry Lhermitte gives a bravura performance as the manic politician but Niels Arestrup as the chief deputy is even more impressive. 

Quai d'Orsay is not without interest but does not rise to the level of the director's best films, such as Coup de Torchon or Captain Conan. The absorbing classicism that opens the film settles into a somewhat routine conventionality for most its length. Here, again, the reliance on a digital format lamentably diminishes the visual texture.

For more information go to:

Film Society of Lincoln Center
70 Lincoln Center Plaza
New York, NY  10023

IFC Center323 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10014

30 Lafayette Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11217

Open Roads—New Italian Cinema 2013

Director Marco Bellocchio
Open Roads — New Italian Cinema
June 6 - 12, 2013
You can’t fault the Film Society of Lincoln Center for bringing back Marco Bellocchio’s Dormant Beauty (which was first screened during Film Comment Selects in February 2013) as part of the latest edition of Open Roads — New Italian Cinema: this is an important, typically idiosyncratic film on a timely subject from a true cinematic master.

Read more: Open Roads—New Italian Cinema 2013

Banff Centre Mountain Film Festival World Tour: Films That Go Sky High


The Banff Centre Mountain Film Festival World Tour is returning to New York City for its 23rd year on Sunday, May 15th and Monday, May 16th at Peter Jay Sharp Symphony Space (2537 Broadway, New York, NY 10025). The Banff Centre Mountain Film Festival is the foremost mountain themed film festival and is now in New York as part of the Banff Centre Mountain Film Festival World Tour hits the road. These are films that cover the beauty, adventure, and importance of mountains around the world. Each evening features a different film menu of cinematic works from around the world.

Films include: 

  • FOLLOW THE LIGHT2021, France, 4 minutes
    Filmmaker: Pierre Henni, Commencal
    Advisory: General
    From sunsets over dramatic landscapes to the illumination of hot air balloons and the warm ambience of Turkey, immerse yourself in this colorful adventure with riders Kilian Bron, Pierre Henni, Pierre Dupont and JB Liautard.

    2020, France, 13 minutes
    Filmmaker: Andy Collet, Marc Augey, Alex Hamelin, PVS Company
    Advisory: General
    After two months of confinement, freeskiing prodigy Ben Buratti finds himself alone on his home mountain of La Clusaz.
    (Tour Edit), 2019, Switzerland, 55 minutes
    Filmmaker: Roman Droux, Memox
    Advisory: Coarse language; violence
    Two adventurers engage in close contact with grizzly bears in Alaska experiencing first-hand the struggle for survival and dramatic fighting scenes. Driven by a desire to explore the unknown, the film tells a personal story of wilderness, framed through breathtaking footage of these amazing creatures.
    2021, USA, 5 minutes
    Filmmaker: Max Romey
    Advisory: General
    Inspired by a picture book, Max Romey heads to a remote beach on Alaska’s coastline in search of marine debris. What he finds is a different story altogether.
    2020, USA, 18 minutes
    Filmmaker: InLightWorks Productions
    Advisory: General
    Pasang Lhamu Sherpa Akita is a certified international high mountain guide, an accomplished mountaineer, humanitarian, and a mother. She reflects on her personal highs and lows and rediscovers for herself just how much the mountains mean to her.
  • EM
    2021, Canada, 14 minutes
    Filmmaker: Alexa Fay, Sophie Claivaz-Loranger
    Advisory: Coarse language
    Emilie Pellerin has spent most of her adult life travelling the world. She has honed her skills on the rock and has become one of the world’s best on-sight climbers. Now she’s ready to push her level on her hardest trad route yet, La Zébrée, a spectacular 5.14a overhanging crack in Quebec.
    2019, UK, 20 minutes
    Filmmaker: Alastair Humphreys
    Advisory: General, non-sexual nudity
    Alastair Humphreys, inspired by Laurie Lee’s book “As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning”, sets out on his most terrifying journey yet - walking through Spain, earning money for food by playing his violin, being distinctly unmusical.


This year's will have no general admission with individual seats being reserved, so plan to buy your tickets ahead of time.

To learn more, go to:

Banff Centre Mountain Film Festival World Tour
May 15 - 16, 2022

Peter Jay Sharp Symphony Space
2537 Broadway
New York, NY 10025

War, Climate Change, & Music: Rendez-Vous with French Cinema 2022

The Horizon

With a lineup of 23 films, the 2022 installment of Rendez-Vous with French Cinema festival arrives at Lincoln Center. Running March 3 to 13th, the festival features essential new films from returning favorites Christophe Honoré, Arnaud Desplechin, Mathieu Almaric, and Jacques Audiard, as well as exciting films from up-and-coming talents Emilie Carpentier, Vincent Maël Cardona, Rachel Lang, Leyla Bouzid, and more with stories of pain, passion, and romance.

In Rise, directed by Cédric Klapisch, ballerina Elise (Marion Barbeau) suffers two injuries at the same time: a devastating fall on stage that leaves her injured and unable to dance for up to two years, and her partner suddenly and humiliatingly breaking up with her for another dancer. Initially devastated, Elise slowly rebuilds her life while redirecting her efforts to contemporary dance in the troupe of real-life Israeli choreographer Hofesh Shechter, playing himself.

Secret Name, directed by Aurélia Georges, is set against the harsh front lines of World War I, as a former sex worker who’s now a nurse, Nélie Laborde (Lyna Khoudri, The French Dispatch), is given the unexpected chance to start a new life when one of her patients, Rose Juillet (Maud Wyler), is seemingly killed by invading German troops and Nélie assumes Rose’s identity and leaves the field of battle for the north of France, where the well-off Eléonore de Lengwil (Sabine Azéma) lives. 

Set in 1980s Brittany, Magnetic Beats, directed by Vincent Maël Cardona, two brothers operating a post-punk pirate station named (in homage to Joy Division) Radio Warsaw both fall for single mother Marianne, just before one of the brothers has to begin his compulsory year of military service abroad in Berlin.

Emilie Carpentier’s debut feature The Horizon follows 18-year-old Adja (Tracy Gotoas), a girl disconnected from her community—indifferent to climate change and mocking the efforts of activists to oppose construction of a new mixed-use facility. But when she grows closer to classmate Arthur (Sylvain Le Gall)—an earnest activist and fellow intern at a nursing home—Adja begins to find a sense of purpose in political engagement, drifting away from her shallow group of friends. 

Along with the lineup of films, free talks include a sit-down with filmmakers Claire Denis and official Guest of Honor at this year’s Rendez-Vous Jim Jarmusch, in an extended conversation about their decades-spanning careers; Juliette Binoche and Déborah Lukumuena, meeting to discuss their professional trajectories and creative influences; and “Working the image : a French-American look at cinematography,” a special panel organized in partnership with French In Motion and the Gotham Film & Media Institute and bringing together French and American filmmakers and cinematographers to discuss their varied inspirations, creative philosophies, and artistic practices.

To learn more, go to:

Rendez-Vous with French Cinema 2022
March 3 - 13, 2022

Film at Lincoln Center
70 Lincoln Center Plaza #4
New York, NY 10023

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