“Making Films in France,” roundtable with Karin Albou (director); Ourida Mostefai, Boston College; Sylvie Toux, Brown University
“The Films of Claire Denis,” roundtable with Grégoire Colin (actor); Roger Mayer, Brown University; Michael Silverman, Brown University.
“Cinema and Society,” roundtable with Dominique Cabrera (director); Dominque Arel, Watson Institute, Brown University; Maurizia Natale, Rhode Island School of Design; Peter Uvin, Watson Institute
Aid el Kébir
directed by Karin Albou, Algeria/France 1998, 35 minutes
In eastern Algeria, a family prepares for the feast of sheep. The father, who is dying, wants his youngest daughter, Hanifa, to marry. In this ambience of domestic morbidity, Hanifa must make a difficult personal choice
cast Faitha Berber, Soria Moufakkir, Smaïl Mekki, Hichem Mesbah, Nina Tahar
The Banned Woman
La femme défendue
directed by Philippe Harel, France 1997, 100 minutes
Adultery might seem like a tired subject, but here its banality is surpassed by the subtlety of the script and the quality of the mise-en-scene. A French comedy-drama filmed with a subjective camera, the film presents the first-person point-of-view of a married man as he meets, flirts with, seduces, and falls in love with a beautiful young woman.
cast Isabelle Carré, Natalie Conio, Philippe Harel, Julien Niedergang, Sophie Niedergang
directed by Claire Denis, France 1988, 105 minutes
Visually breathtaking and emotionally haunting, this stunning directorial debut by Claire Denis presents a side of 1950s Africa – and of youth – never before captured on film. France Dalens, the daughter of a colonial official, has returned to trace her past. Soon, the rush of sights, sounds and smells sweep her back to her childhood, to a desolate land of harsh, haunting beauty. Stifling isolation and sexual frustration create an undercurrent of tension that threatens to explode as an assortment of Europeans pass through their sun-baked outpost.
cast Guilia Boschi, Isaach de Bankole, François Cluzet, Richard Courget, Beatrice Dalle, Alex Descas
Le beau travail
directed by Claire Denis, France 1999, 90 minutes
Inspired by Melville’s Billy Budd, Beau Travail is the most provocative film yet by Claire Denis, an exploration of a special, very enclosed male world through its rituals, codes and barely contained emotional conflicts. In the east African enclave of Djibouti, the men of a small French Legion outpost spend their days in isolation. Barely older than his charges, Sergeant seems a perfect Legionnaire, running his troop like a well-oiled machine until the arrival of new recruit, Sentier, threatens to upset the delicate balance that is his life.
cast Grégoire Colin, Richard Courcet, Denis Lavant, Michel Subor
I Can’t Sleep
J’ai pas sommeil
directed by Claire Denis, France 1994, 97 minutes
A Latvian in Paris, a couple of homosexuals, an old lady’s murderer, some African immigrants, a hotel manager protecting the young Latvian, a transvestite who performs at a local night club, crime, and assorted odd occurrences all come together in the complex plot of Claire Denis’ third film, her follow-up to No Fear, No Die.
cast Richard Courcet, Béatrice Dalle, Alex Descas, Vincent Dupont, Yekaterina Golubyova, Patrick Grandperret, Irina Grjebina, Line Renaud, Sophie Simon
I Stand Alone
Seul contre tous
directed by Gaspar Noé, France 1997, 93 minutes
Gaspard Noe’s feature film debut is a harsh portrait of contemporary French life. Seul contre tous centers around a middle-aged unemployed butcher who is trying to salvage a life that has long been on the skids. As his hopes of finding work are crushed, his bitterness towards the world begins to take on frightening proportions. Motivated by racism, misogyny and a hair-trigger temper, the butcher seems ready to blow at any minute. Be forewarned, a journey inside this man’s mind, as difficult as it is to watch, will change the way you see French culture forever. Awards: Critics Week, Cannes.
cast Martine Audrain, Blandine Lenoir, Frankyle Le Pain, Philipp Nahon
In The Land of Deaf
Au pays des sourds
directed by Nicolas Philibert, France 1994, 99 minutes
Anyone who has ever journeyed to the “land of the deaf” has been struck by the silent signs with which deaf people express themselves. With their profound deafness in common, the children and adults featured in this film communicate their dreams and thoughts through signs. Philibert focuses his camera on group of schoolchildren who are learning how to communicate in a world where they must read lips and speak words. Au pays des sourds has won countless international prizes at festivals around the world from San Francisco to Bombay to Vancouver and Valladolid. Awards: Golden Gate Award documentary
Late August, Early September
Fin Août, début Septembre
directed by Olivier Assayas, France 1998, 112 minutes
Originally given the title of “Snapshots,” Late August, Early September captures the experience of a group of thirty-something Parisians and their slow passage out of painful adolescence. When an old illness begins to take its toll on one of the group, the others are forced to take notice that time is passing and they are growing older.
cast Mathieu Almaric, Jeanne Balibar, François Cluzet, Virginie Ledoyen
directed by Cédric Kahn, France 1998, 120 minutes
Martin, a philosophy professor, is undergoing a mid-life crisis. Through a set of strange circumstances, he meets a girl who was responsible for driving an old painter to his death. Fascinated by the story of her relationship with the old man, Martin slowly succumbs to her charms. But as their relationship continues, she only seems to become more and more enigmatic, alternating between alluring innocence and utter indifference, fueling his inexorable destruction.
cast Maurice Antoni, Charles Berling, Arielle Dombasle, Alice Grey, Sophie Guillemin, Robert Kramer
Life on Earth
La vie sur terre
directed by Abderrahmane Sissako, France 1998, 61 minutes
Part of the series “2000 Seen By,” this film offers a unique look into the culture of Mauritania, a community rarely seen on film. On the eve of the 21st century, Sissako, an African filmmaker living in France returns to his native village of Sokolo where the coming of the millennium has aroused little interest. Free from the frenzy of the year 2000, Sissako’s pilgrimage home offers an oasis of peace and simplicity.
cast Nana Baby, Bourama Coulibaly, Abderrahmane Sissako, Mohammed Sissako
Nadia and the Hippos
Nadia et les hippopotames
directed by Dominique Cabrera, France 1999, 102 minutes
In winter, 1995, during a massive transportation strike, Nadia and her six-month old son leave Paris in search of the father. Encounters with a group of strikers lead to a personal-cum-political odyssey in which the government’s labor policies are seriously questioned.
cast Laurent Arnal, Ariane Ascaride, Pierre Berriau, Michel Bony, Marilyne Canto, Thierry Frémont, Philippe Fretun, Olivier Gourmet, Nadj Hamou-Medja, Sasha and Ruben Nakache
Nenette and Boni
Nénette et Boni
directed by Claire Denis, France 1996, 90 minutes
Nénette and Boni, is a thoroughly engaging tale about sibling bonds. Set in working-class Marseilles, the film focuses on a sister and brother who are brought together following the death of their mother. Denis brings both pathos and more than a small measure of humor to bear in portraying their conflicted feelings for each other, toward their parents, and about their own needs and desires. Awards: Golden Leopard, 1996 (Lucarno), Golden Bayard, 1996 (Namur).
cast Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi, Grégoire Colin, Alex Descas, Jamila Farah, Vincent Gallo, Alice Houri, Gérard Meylan, Jacques Nolot
No Fear, No Die
S’en fout la mort
directed by Claire Denis, France 1990, 97 minutes
Dah, an African immigrant, and Jocelyn, a West Indian man hook up to supply and train fighting cocks for a sleazy French saloon owner. The two live in the back of the club, and while Jocelyn trains the birds, Dah becomes entangled with the owner’s mistress. Soon all four are cast into a violent circle of gambling, desire and agony, spinning out of control.
cast Isaach de Bankolé, Jean-Claude Brialy, Alex Descas, Solveig Dommartin
Same Old Song
On connaît la chanson
directed by Alain Resnais, France 1998, 120 minutes
In this tribute to the British screenwriter Dennis Potter, the legendary director Alain Resnais of Hiroshima mon amour has created a film about a circle of friends who express their secret desires by breaking into snatches of popular songs. The film shows Paris and Parisians at their best and worst, all the while lip-synching to tunes by France Gall, Johnny Haliday, the rock group Telephone, or Maurice Chevalier. The story follows six intertwined characters as they try to find happiness in the great city of lights. Awards: Best Film, César, Cannes 1998
cast Pierre Arditi, Sabine Azéma, Jean-Pierre Bacri, André Dussolier Agnès Jaoui, Lambert Wilson
Those Who Love Me Can Take the Train
Ceux qui m’aiment prendront le train
directed by Patrice Chéreau, France 1998, 122 minutes
A visually striking film in its hand-held cinemascope photography. United by their love for a deceased man, an array of colorful personalities converge on the train to his burial. Love, sex, fidelity, drug addiction, and suicide become topics of conversation on their four hour journey. The aftermath, in the mansion of the dead man’s brother, attains revelatory proportions and evokes the kind of emotion that only talented directors can achieve. Awards: Best Director, César, Cannes, 1998
cast Charles Berling, Dominique Blanc, Valéria Bruni-Tedeschi, Marie Daems, Pascal Gregory , Sylvain Jacques, Bruno Todeschini, Jean-Louis Trintignant, Roschdy Zem
Tomorrow and Again Tomorrow
Demain et encore demain
directed by Dominique Cabrera, France 1998, 79 minutes
Images of a life, country, and an era scarred by doubt as a troubled and questioning woman takes a camera and films her everyday life. This autobiographical film is an intimate piece of reality – painful, yet filled with hope; a sensitive portrait of the artist behind the camera.
cast Dominique Cabrera