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Feel Your French: Bastille Day At The Burns

Jean Luc GodardJean Luc GodardFriday, July 13-----To celebrate Bastille Day (and the general love of all things French), the Jacob Burns Film Center, the prominent arthouse complex north of New York City, is hosting The French New Wave film series, reminding us all what it was about the French that we fell in love with in the first place. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, the French "Nouvelle Vague" (New Wave) was the most dynamic cinema on the planet. It literally exploded when a group of young Cahiers du Cinema critics-turned-filmmakers forged a revolutionary film language mixing a passion for experimentation, radical politics, and Hollywood genre movies. Francois Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard, Eric Rohmer, Claude Chabrol, Jacques Demy and Louis Malle became the most revered filmmakers of their generation, influencing fellow European directors and a legion of budding American film wanabees including Martin Scorsese, Robert Altman, Peter Bogdonavich, William Friedkin, John Cassavetes, Arthur Penn, Paul Mazursky, Francis Ford Coppola, Steven Spielberg and Woody Allen.

The series begins, appropriately enough, with the screening of BREATHLESS, the highly influential 1959 classic directed by Jean-Luc Godard and memorably starring Jean-Paul Belmondo and Jean Seberg. How many young American women were inspired to come to Paris to discover life, love and sex by the exploits of Seberg in this film. And if Jean-Paul Belmondo's lips are on the receiving end of your smooching, you could do far worse back in Sandusky, Ohio. The film's freewheeling style, relaxed acting and jump cut aesthetic continues to inspire visual artists in all media. Even in contemporary cinema, legions of filmmakers today, from Stephen Soderbergh to Quentin Tarantino to Lars Von Trier to Pedro Almodovar, still attest to the New Wave's deep impact on their work. The movies in this summer series run the gamut from sensitive drama to madcap farce to urgent sociopolitical critique, but they're united in having led cinema into a new era. They remain remarkably fresh and daring, still films that take a risk and make the audience work hard to connect the dots. There are no simple solutions or hackneyed finishes. The films prided themselves on their truthfullness, even while the filmmakers went to extremes to stylize and excite their imagery.

Umbrellas of CherbourgUmbrellas of CherbourgThe 400 BlowsThe greats are represented here: Francois Truffaut (THE 400 BLOWS, JULES AND JIM, THE SOFT SKIN, TWO ENGLISH GIRLS), Jean-Luc Godard (BREATHLESS, WEEKEND), Eric Rohmer (MY NIGHT AT MAUD'S, LA COLLECTIONNEUSE), Louis Malle (ZAZIE DANS LE METRO), Alain Resnais (LA GUERRE EST FINIE), Jacques Demy (UMBRELLAS OF CHERBOURG), Agnes Varda (CLEO FROM 5 TO 7, LE BONHEUR), Jacques Rivette (THE NUN), and Claude Chabrol (LES BONNES FEMMES, LES COUSINS).  The 21-film series runs this Bastille Day weekend (bring your baguettes) and through August 15th. The Burns gets "all froggy" and brings audiences a rare mid-summer Gallic treat. For more information on this and other film programs, log on to the Jacob Burns Film Center website:

Sandy Mandelberger, Film New York Editor

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The Ultimate Guide to the New York Film, Video and New Media Scene.

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