Roundtable with Olivier Assayas, film director; Maggie Cheung, actress; Marc Cérusuelo, CNRS, Paris; Kent Jones, Film Comment; Gavin Smith, Film Comment; Michael Silverman, Brown University
Roundtable with Thierry Michel, film director; Nancy Jacobs, Brown University; other guests TBA
African Cinema and Political History
Roundtable with Thierry Michel, film director; Dominique Arel, Brown University; Reda Bensmaia, Brown University; Philip Rosen, Brown University
Winston Tong en studio
directed by Olivier Assayasx, France 1984, 10 minutes
Shot in Brussels, this is a short documentary on the recording of the first solo album of Winston Tong, singer of the American rock group Tuxedomoon.
Laissé inachevé à Tokyo
directed by Olivier Assayasx, France 1982, 22 minutes
A woman comes back from Tokyo, where she was working on her book. Someone is waiting for her, strange things happen. Her past and her present get mixed up together. Maybe she had an adventure in Tokyo. Or maybe everything is part of a novel that somebody is writing, or nobody will ever write. A stylish short film in black and white, and one of the first works of Assayas.
A New Life
Une nouvelle vie
directed by Olivier Assayas, France 1993, 120 minutes
Tina is a young warehouse worker in a supermarket. She is in love with Fred and she is planning to marry him, but she still lives with her mother Nadine, a lonely woman who is financially supported by her old lovers. When Nadine suddenly dies, Tina feels completely displaced and she decides to look for her father Ludovic, whom she never knew. But she first meets her half-sister Lise, and Constantin, an odd man who was Ludovic's lawyer. Before their father comes back, Tina and Lise will have a week to observe each other, lie to each other, and discover each other's secrets. An emotionally draining film about the hardships of family relations.
cast Sophie Aubry, Judith Godrèche, Bernard Giraudeau, Christine Boisson, Philippe Torreton, Bernard Verley, Antoine Basler
directed by Chantal Ackerman, France 2000, 118 minutes
Ariane lives with Simon in his large Parisian apartment. Simon wants to know everything about her. He follows her around the city, has her accompanied when she leaves the apartment and questions her incessantly. He is aware of Ariane’s preference for women. His suspicion of her double life only exacerbates his melancholy, his impotence and certainly his desire for her. Inspired by Proust’s short story La Prisonnière, textured by a Hitchcock-esque obsession and Rachmaninov’s The Island of the Dead, Chantal Akerman has created an elegant and soulful meditation on desire, obsession, love and pain..
cast Stanislas Merhar, Sylvie Testud, Olivia Bonamy, Liliane Rovère, Françoise Bertin, Aurore Clément
The Carriers Are Waiting
Les convoyeurs attendent
directed by Benoît Mariage, France 1999, 94 minutes
Roger, a press photographer in an uneventful factory town, longs to make his mark on the world. When a local merchants’ group sponsors a competition for setting world records, Roger drafts his reluctant son, Michel, to try for the most door-openings in 24 hours. Erecting a door jamb in the back yard and hiring an American-style trainer, Roger feels assured of victory. But Roger’s single-minded quest for success leads to unexpected, potentially tragic results as he pushes his passive family toward a lifestyle for which they seem unprepared. Director A llouache moves the story effortlessly between broad comedy, family drama, and pensive lyricism, all the while keeping the humanity of his characters in the fore of his stark black and white images.
cast Benoît Poelvoorde, Morgane Simon, Jean-François Devigne, Bouli Lanners, Philippe Grand’Henry, Dominique Baeyens
directed by Olivier Assayas, France 1994, 92 minutes
In the outskirts of Paris two teenagers fall in love. Gilles is suffocated by an over-protective father who refuses to accept the coming of age of his son. Christine is in the middle of a conflict between her parents. Frustrated and rebellious, Gilles and Christine decide to escape their oppressive lives by running away. Living on the margin of society, these two teenagers develop a profound and touching relationship. In Cold Water, Assayas beautifully captures the emotions and anxieties of adolescence.
cast Virginie Ledoyen, Cyprien Fouquet, Laszlo Szabo, Jean-Pierre Darroussin, Dominique Faysse, Smail Mekki
directed by Olivier Assayas, France 1986, 95 minutes
Yvan, Anne and Henry are three young friends who live together and who have in common a passion for rock music. They break in to a music store to try to steal instruments that they need for their own band. The owner of the store reacts to the robbery, pulls out a gun, and the three friends end up killing him. Even though the police don’t suspect them of the homicide, that incident will mark their life. The first feature film of Olivier Assayas, Désordre is shot with a measured, sober style, whose pattern of essential dialogues and meaningful silences characterizes a highly peculiar debut.
cast Wadeck Stanczak, Ann-Gisel Glass, Lucas Belvaux, Remi Martin, Corinne Dacla, Simon De La Brosse
HHH: A Portrait of Hou Hsiao Hsien
directed by Olivier Assayas, France 1997, 91 minutes
A documentary on the Chinese filmmaker Hou Hsiao-Hsien, winner of the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival in 1989. Hou escorts Assayas, his interpreter and the camera crew around Taipei and to the village outside the capital, talking about himself and his work. In an old quarter of the city, he visits the neighborhood where he grew up, and talks to people who knew him as a child.
directed by Laurent Cantet, France 2001, 100 minutes
Director Laurent Cantet’s first feature film makes great use of his cast of non-actors to tell the story of a son, Frank, (Lespert — the only cast member with acting experience) who returns home to work in upper management at the factory at which his father toils on the plant floor. The institution of the 35-hour work week in France has brought tensions between management and labor to a fever pitch. Frank, in an idealistic effort to make things right, constructs a simple worker’s survey which is subsequently turned by upper management into an excuse for more lay-offs, including Frank’s father. Human Resources is one of the most critically acclaimed French films of the year, and also one of the most powerful.
cast Jalil Lespert, Jean Claude Vallod, Chantal Barré, Danielle Mélador
directed by Bruno Dumont, France 1999, 148 minutes
Bruno Dumont, director of La vie de Jésus, returns with his prize-winning (and highly controversial) tale of the brutal rape and murder of an 11-year-old girl. Set in Bailleul, the same quiet, economically depressed town as in Jésus, the tale centers around the town’s slow-witted, overly sensitive detective, Pharaon de Winter who is almost incapacitated by the horror of the crime and the suffering of the people he encounters during his enquiries. The slow and meditative film, tangentially a detective story, is really an enquiry into the nature of evil and compassion, suffering and forgiveness. As in Jésus, Dumont shows us characters living under the dual yoke of the carnal and the spiritual.
cast Emmanuel Schotté, Séverine Caneele, Philippe Tullier, Ghislain Ghesquère
directed by Olivier Assayas, France 1996, 96 minutes
Irma Vep (an anagram of “vampire”) is a satire about filmmaking in France, in which Assayas explores the challenges that egotism and intellectual pretension bring to the profession. In the 1915 serials Les Vampires by director Louis Feuillade, Irma Vep was the leader of a band of cat burglars that dressed in black suits, stole jewelry from the wealthy, and escaped over rooftops. Fast forward to 1996: action film star Maggie Cheung is cast as the infamous character, with the director played by the legendary actor Jean-Pierre Léaud.
cast Maggie Cheung, Jean-Pierre Léaud, Nathalie Richard
Kirikou and the Sorceress
Kirikou et la sorcière
directed by Michel Ocelot, France 1998, 70 minutes
Set entirely in Africa, Kirikou is a delightful, animated children’s fable recounting the story of a precocious newborn boy who, discovering that an evil sorceress has his village in thrall, sets out to liberate his people. Armed only with inquisitiveness, intelligence and resolve, but aided by the deceptiveness of his small size, he battles not only against the vengeance of the evil sorceress, but the superstition and fear of the villagers. A tremendous box office success in France (due in part to the score by Senegalese superstar Youssou N’Dour). Join us for special early morning screenings during our first weekend, and bring your children along.
cast Theo Sebeko, Antoinette Kellermann, Kombisile Sangweni
Late August, Early September
Fin août, début Septembre
directed by Olivier Assayas, France 1998, 112 minutes
Late August, Early September focuses on a year in the life of Gabriel, a man in his early thirties. Despite a tender friendship with his ex-girlfriend Jenny, he chooses to end the relationship, affirming the more serious passion he has with Anne. Much of Gabriel’s time and emotional energy is focused on fostering the fragile ego of his older friend Adrien, a writer whose recent novels have failed to reach the success of his earlier work. When an old illness begins to take its toll on Adrien’s physical condition, Gabriel and his friends are forced to take notice that time is passing and that they are growing older. Taking stock of his own life and decisions, Gabriel finds his perspective on the world has changed forever. Originally given the title of “Snapshots” Late August, Early September captures the experiences of these young friends through a series of episodes tightly bound together by the powerful rhythm of the African music soundtrack and roaming camera."
cast Mathieu Almaric, Jeanne Balibar, François Cluzet, Virginie Ledoyen
directed by Raoul Peck, France 2000, 115 minutes
This historical thriller opens with the gruesome demise of Patrice Emery Lumumba, the charismatic first leader of the newly independent Zaire. When the interests of his national and international political opponents, and his closest friend and one-time ally, Joseph Mobutu, coincide, his four-month term of office is brought to an end, and his fate as a political force against Western interests is sealed. Almost forty years after Patrice Emery Lumumba’s assassination, this African tragedy has a haunting relevance for modern audiences.
cast Eriq Ebouaney, Alex Descas, Théophile Moussa Sowié, Maka Kotto
Mobutu, King of Zaire
Mobutu, roi du Zaïre
directed by Thierry Michel, Belgium/France 1999, 135 minutes
The last of the “Negro Kings,” Mobutu Sese Seko was the oldest and most unfaltering of African despots. A Machiavellian monarch, the Zairian President was one of the last dictators born from the cold war and from decolonisation. As an ally of the West, Mobutu, over the period of a third of a century, built up a pyramid of despotic and predatory power, fortified by money and corruption. But how was the son of a cook and a young sergeant in the colonial army able to become one of the richest men in the world? On what logic did he build his power? What was the key to such a long political career? How can Zaire, a veritable gold mine of minerals and precious materials, be one of the world’s poorest countries today? Renowned documentary filmmaker Thierry Michel uses rare footage and rich witness reports to answer these questions in this masterful documentary.
directed by Olivier Assayas, France 1991, 120 minutes
Adrien is a 19 years old boy who can’t bear living with his father Clément. With them lives Louise, a girl who has a relationship with Clément. The discomfort grows in the household when Clément discovers that Louise is a drug addict. On the other hand, Adrien realizes that he is attracted by her. This love triangle exasperates and embitters the relationship between father and son until Adrien, Clément and Louise have to make a difficult decision. Each of them has to face the sad reality of life.
cast Judith Godrèche, Jean-Pierre Léaud, Thomas Langmann, Martin Lamotte, Ounie Lecomte, Antoine Basler, EricDaviron
Les destinées sentimentales
directed by Olivier Assayas, France 2000, 180 minutes
This intelligent and ambitious film follows a man’s life as he is torn between public responsibilities and private needs. An adaptation of the French novel by Jacques Chardonne, Sentimental Destinies tells the story of Protestant minister Jean, whose marriage to Nathalie is already falling apart when he meets the niece of a parishioner, Pauline at a ball in his small village in western France. To escape the disapproval of his conservative community, Jean quits the clergy and sets up home with Pauline in Switzerland. But years later, when his uncle dies, he is called to Limoges, to take over his family’s porcelain empire. This is an elegant adaptation and a strong piece of filmmaking, with excellent performances by Béart, Berling and Huppert.
cast Emmanuelle Béart, Charles Berling, Isabelle Huppert, Olivier Perrier, Julie Depardieu
Set Me Free
directed by Léa Pool, Canada 1999, 94 minutes
Growing up in a working-class district of Montreal in 1963, Hanna, the 13-year-old daughter of a Catholic mother and Jewish father, finds herself classed as an outsider by the narrow provincial standards of her peers. At home, she struggles to cope with the explosive, often destructive relationship of her parents, a relationship she fails to understand and gradually realizes she is powerless to change. At the cinema she finds solace in the figure of the philosophical prostitute Nana, from Godard’s Vivre sa vie. Empowered by this vision of existential freedom, Hanna takes up a super-8 camera and sets out to refashion her life — on film.
cast Katrine Vanasse, Pascale Bussières, Miki Manojlovic, Nancy Huston, Alexandre Mérineau
The Gleaners and I
Les glaneurs et la glaneuse
directed by Agnés Varda, France 2000, 87 minutes
Agnès Varda, former member of the French New Wave, uses modern technology — a digital camera — to produce this most thoughtful and lucid portrait of the age-old tradition of gleaning. Gleaners are those individuals who pick at already-reaped fields for the odd potato, the leftover turnip, and in previous generations were immortalized by the likes of Millet and Van Gogh. This critically acclaimed documentary is a Varda signature that reflects on painting, cinema, photography, politics, culture and especially on her own life in her own time.
directed by Christophe Ali & Nicholas Bonilauri, France 2000, 61 minutes
Influenced by Lynch, Dreyer and Laughton, Christophe Ali and Nicolas Bonilauri’s first feature film, The Rat is sure to please the midnight crowd. A study in the undiluted power of juxtaposition and suggestion, this silent film follows a solitary old man’s grisly system for exorcising potent childhood demons. From a plucked out eyeball to a spooky henchman in a vintage gas mask, the visual sensations are strong as the main protagonist lures women to his shack to complete a ghastly project.
cast Marcel Fix, Florence Quiqueré, Léo Robin, Elsa Joly
Water Drops on Burning Rocks
Gouttes d'eau sur pierres brûlantes
directed by François Ozon, France 2000, 90 minutes
French cinema renegade François Ozon returns with perhaps his most successful work yet. Based on a play by the original master of on-screen sexual politics, Rainer Werner Fassbinder (written when he was only 19!), Ozon has taken his source material, and refashioned it as a giddy romp through ’70s-era free love, all while keeping within the bounds of one apartment. Leopold, an insurance salesman in his fifties, brings naïve 19-year-old Franz to his home, seduces him, and after six months transforms him into a browbeaten housewife. Enter Franz’s girlfriend, Anna, who has Franz ready to flee, until Leopold returns and seduces her as well! Throw in Leopold’s transsexual lover, and a fantastic musical number performed by all four members of the cast, and you’ve got most of the picture.
cast Bernard Giraudeau, Malik Zidi, Ludivine Sagnier, Anna Thomson
L'enfant de l'hiver
directed by Olivier Assayas, France 1989, 84 minutes
Nathalie is pregnant, but her boyfriend Stéphane leaves her for Sabine, an art designer who works in a theatre. Sabine has just left Bruno, an actor, but she understands that she could never forget him. In the meantime, Nathalie tries to kill herself. She is saved by Leni, a friend of hers, who repeatedly doesn’t let Stéphane visit her. Stéphane then follows Sabine on her theatrical tour, knowing that things are about to change. A group of friends and lovers and the sentimental storms of their long winter. A crucial period of their lives that will lead them to different, complicated destinies. cast Clotilde de Bayser, Michel Feller, Marie Matheron, Jean-Philippe Ecoffey, Gérard Blain, Anouk Grinberg, Nathalie Richard