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The French Invasion of New York

 

BLUEBEARD (Catherine Breillat) 

With French film master Alain Resnais kicking off the 47th edition of the New York Film Festival last evening with his Cannes Film Festival winner WILD GRASS, this year's event is another example of the New York audience love affair with French cinema. With French filmmakers and actors in town for the Festival, the premieres this week of Cedric Klapisch's PARIS and Anne Fontaine's COCO BEFORE CHANEL (starring Audrey Tautou), not to mention the on-going retrospective of the films of Juliette Binoche at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, New York is experiencing a semi-invasion of French film and culture (and probably an uncontrollable urge for a giant croissant and a huge cafe au lait). 

Other Gallic giants in this year's fest include: HADEWIJCH, directed by Bruno Dumont. The director has directed more than 450 commercials, shorts and documentaries. He is the director of such celebrated features as La Vie de Jésus, L'HumanitéTwentynine Palms and Flandres.  L'Humanité and Flandres were both awarded the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival. HADEWIJICH tells the story of a young girl, Celine (Julie Sokolowski), who is expelled from a convent for her excessive devotion to Christ.  Her passionate love of God, her rage and her encounter with two Muslim brothers, Yassine and Nassir, lead her, between grace and madness, off along dangerous paths.

WHITE MATERIAL, is directed by Claire Denis and stars iconic actress Isabelle Huppert.  In an Africa torn by civil war and strife, a white French family struggles to retain their dilapidated plantation while powerless and surrounded by a band of rebel soldiers. Claire Denis was born in Paris and raised primarily in Africa. She graduated from L'Institut des Hautes Études Cinématographiques. Her films include Chocolat, Man No Run, S'en fout la mortJ'ai pas sommeil, Nénette et Boni, Beau travail, Trouble Every Day, Vendredi Soir, L'Intrus, and 35 Rhums, which is currently playing at New York's Film Forum.

BLUEBEARD/LA BARBE-BLEUE, directed by Catherine Breillat, is a wicked dismantling of a fairy tale that tells the stories of two pair of sisters from different eras fascinated by the legend of Bluebeard, an ugly ogre of a man, whose wives disappear under mysterious circumstances.  As we know, fairy tales often contain values and moral lessons including attitudes toward sexuality, and, of course, sexual curiosity is often a theme in Briellat’s films.  In BLUEBEARD, it is the virginal sisters who find out who curiosity kills. Breillat is known for her distinctively personal films on sexuality, gender trouble and sibling rivalry including 36 Fillette, Romance, Fat Girl, Sex Is Comedy, Anatomy of Hell and The Last Mistress.

HENRI-GEORGES CLOUZOT’S INFERNO, written, produced and directed by Serge Bromberg and co-directed by Ruxandra Medrea, is a fascinating documentary taking us into the vison of French director Henri-Georges Clouzot and his never finished L'Enfer.  Reconstituted by Bromberg and Medrea from recently rediscovered rushes, test footage and new scenes of actors performing from the script, this attempt to imagine what Inferno might’ve been if Clouzot had not lost hold of the reins is a true marvel. Serge Bromberg was made a Chevalier of the French Order of Arts and Letters in 2002, and is considered one of the leading figures working in film restoration and television production. L'Enfer de Henri-Georges Clouzot is his first feature documentary.

The other French film showing over the next two weeks is 36 VIEWS OF SAINT-LOUP PEAK by Jacques Rivette, another French New Wave veteran with a long history of films at this seminal New York film event.

For more information on these and other fiilms at this year's Festival, visit: www.filmlinc.com

Sandy Mandelberger, Festival Dailies Editor

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

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