Roundtable discussion with director Dominique Cabrera
Sponsored by The Marshal Woods Lectureship Fund
Ms. Cabrera will open the discussion with remarks on the making A Wonderful Spell, and then take questions from the audience.
Born in Algeria in 1957, Dominique Cabrera moved to France in 1962. After studying at the Institut des Hautes études cinématographiques, Ms. Cabrera worked for French television then went on to make three documentaries on socialaly relevant issues (Chronique d'une banlieue ordinaire, Une poste à Courneuve, and Rester là-bas). In 1999 Ms. Cabrera directed her autobiographical feature Demain et encore dema, which she presented at the Providence French Film Festival, along with Nadia et les hippopotames, in 2001. A Wonderful Spell, which achieved wide critical acclaim when it opened in France, is her fifth feature film.
THE 10TH DISTRICT COURT: MOMENTS OF TRIAL
10e chambre, instants d’audience
directed by Raymond Depardon
France | 2004 | 105 min.
Over the past three years U.S. documentaries, made on relatively low budgets, have had undeniable political and aesthetic impact, finding a niche in arthouses and multiplexes alike. Here we present a fascinating French documentary set in a Parisian civil court.
“Depardon manages a thumbnail sketch of contemporary French society.” —Kent Jones Film Comment
directed by Jeanne Labrune
cast Victoria Abril, Jean-Pierre Darroussin, Sylvie Testud, Richard Debuisne
France | 2004 | 87 min.
Jeanne Labrune’s third “fantasy” after Ça ira mieux demain and C’est le bouquet!, films which she presented along with actor/screenwriter Richard Debuisne during Festival 2003. Labrune says the idea for this film came to her when she found her Paris apartment invaded by a swarm of Unidentified Flying Insects and led to a cinematic reflection on the way suspicion and mistrust are nibbling away at the fabric of contemporary society. A “light” comedy in the classical tradition of Marivaux and Beaumarchais that makes us laugh at the antics of others until these others begin to look more and more like ourselves. Filmed in the middle of a small village in the middle of Paris and in the middle of a small village.
directed by Agnés Varda
France | 2004 | 96 min.
Agnés Varda turns to her own archive to form three cine-essays: Ydessa, the Bears, and etc. (2004), Ulysses (1982), Salut les Cubains (1963).
“A photographer before she turned to film Varda explores the medium’s ability to preserve a moment for eternity while remaining open to an array of interpretations that evolve over time. Her newest film Ydessa... records a moving and macabre exhibit of early 20th century photographs each featuring a teddy bear. The curator/collector/bear aficionado is Ydessa Hendeles a scarlet-haired sylph of a woman who looks to be a figment of Edward Gorey’s imagination.” — Film Forum
directed by Olivier Assayas
cast Maggie Cheung, Mary Moulds, Nick Nolte, Beatrice Dalle, Jeanne Balibar, Don McKellar, Tricky
France | 2004 | 100 min.
The prospect of a new film by Assayas sets this writer’s pulse racing. And then, throw in the casting — Cheung! Nolte! McKellar! Tricky! A kind of filmic valentine to Maggie Cheung as she plays an aspiring singer and mother. There is something about Assayas’ films in their camera work, music, a lightness and something a little heavier, how he works with actors — call it the “Assayas touch” — that creates a stimulating thoughtful art. Certainly one of the must sees of the Festival.
directed by Jacques Demy
cast Catherine Deneuve, Jean Marais, Delphine Seyrig, Jacques Perrin
France | 1970 | 100 min.
A newly restored print of Demy’s kitschy, musical fairytale, first released in 1970, and lovingly restored thanks to the efforts of Demy’s devoted companion, Agnes Varda. The film re-tells the Charles Perrault tale of a grief-stricken king who promises the dying queen (Catherine Deneuve) never to remarry unless he finds someone as beautiful as she, and then of his consternation when he discovers that someone to be his own, only daughter, the most beautiful damsel in the land (Catherine Deneuve). Thank goodness for fairy godmothers (Delphine Seyrig).
“This restoration reveals Demy’s fantasy in all its original splendor what the International Herald Tribune called ‘a dazzler an entrancingly beautiful film done with charm delicacy taste and high imagination.’“ — New York Times
Le grand rôle
directed by Steve Suissa
cast Stéphane Freiss, Bérénice Bejo, Peter Coyote, François Berleand
France | 2004 | 89 min.
When a famous American film director comes to Paris to cast a Yiddish version of The Merchant of Venice, Maurice and his friends try out for the role, with ensuing complications and misunderstandings
“A crowd-pleasing dramatic comedy about love friendship role-playing and Jewish pride...sprightly pace sunny thesping fine comic timing.” — Variety
Magic LanterN PRESENTS LA LANTERNE MAGIQUE
Ben Russel and Magic Lantern Cinema present a series of experimental Francophone films and videos that run the gamut from workplace ennui to reverse-ethnographies to formal Lettrist works to balloon massacres. Featuring work by 11 artists in three formats made over the past four decades, this curated screening offers a rare glimpse onto the glorious traditions of Avant-Garde cinema as they exist outside the USA. For more informaiton go to www.magiclanterncinema.com
directed by Christophe Honoré
cast Isabelle Huppert, Louis Garrel, Emma de Caunes, Joana Preiss
France | 2004 | 110 min.
The French Film Festival proudly continues the annual tradition of showing several films that will surely polarize audiences (Fat Girl, 29 Palms, Demonlover, Trouble Every Day, to name a few). Isabelle Huppert continues to push the acting envelope playing a widowed mother in a wholesome closely knit family. In this family’s “world” it seems that the decadent and the degenerate are a modus operandi for moving upward. Strong stuff. Sexual situations.
La petite Lili
directed by Claude Miller
cast Ludivine Sagnier, Robinson Steverin, Nicole Garcia, Bernard Giraudeau
France | 2003 | 94 min.
“Enough with young people. Down with young people.” So goes a light line by one of the characters in this modern adaptation of Chekov’s The Seagull. Set in the sensual French countryside the young and the aged grapple and grab. Director Miller shows fine judgment on camera work much of it hand held. A memorably steamy sex scene that would make old Anton proud.
roger toupin, Épicier VariÉtÉ
directed by Benoît Pilon
Canada | 2003 | 97 min.
In some ways Benoît Pilon’s documentary serves as a companion piece to one of last year’s Festival favorites, Gaz Bar Blues. Here Pilon explores the old-fashioned grocery store located at the heart of Plateau Mont-Royal. And while we have seen the perceptive and humane work of several Québécois narratives the same traits hold here in the documentary form.
KINGS AND QUEEN
Rois et reine
directed by Arnaud Desplechin
cast Catherine Deneuve, Mathieu Amalric, Emmanuelle Devos, Maurice Garrel
France | 2004 | 150 min.
While receiving less praise, less press, and lesser distribution than contemporaries Assayas and Dumont, Arnaud Desplechin continues to chart a course, somewhat influenced by the Jacques Rivette-inflected narrative, that is hard to classify. As with previous Festival films, The Sentinel, Esther Kahn, Playing ‘In the Company of Men,’ Desplechin tweaks genres and shifts narrative in an assured stimulating way. Basically parallel tales of two ex-lovers that sometimes cross. A challenging yet accessible arthouse film of a high order. Do check this one out.
directed by Mahamat-Saleh Haroun
cast Ahidjo Mahamat Moussa, Hamza Moctar Aguid, Zara Haroun, Mounira Khalil
France/Chad/The Netherlands | 2002 | 84 min.
The fortunes and misfortunes of two young boys in the aftermath of their father’s leaving Chad in search of work. In this beautifully shot film, landscape and time become central characters and plot. A film to intrigue and whet the appetite for April’s African and African-Diaspora Film Festival hosted at the Cable Car Cinema.
directed by Jean-Luc Godard
cast Sarah Adler, Nade Dieu, Rony Kramer, Simon Eine
France | 2004 | 80 min.
It can be argued that Godard and Andy Warhol may be the two most important directors in the adolescent art known as cinema. Godard’s latest film is an elliptical crossing of many layers — Hell, Paradise, Purgatory — to indict much of modern times. War and memory. The power of dialog. A must see.
the prophecy of the frogs
La prophétie des grenouilles
directed by Jacques-Rémy Girerd
voices by Michel Piccoli, Anouk Grinbert, Annie Girardot, Michel Galabru
France | 2003 | 90 min.
A French animation film which was unfairly eclipsed by The Triplets of Belleville — perhaps U.S. distributors thought that ONE French animation was more than enough for the US flick-watchers? The Festival wants to return to a genuinely children/family film with a special morning show. In some ways a remake of Noah and the Flood, not to mention big budget Hollywood disaster fluff.
A flood has sunk Earth — maybe an environmental statement on humans’ ecological abuses? An unusual group survives — no, not Gene Hackman, not Charlton Heston, not Dennis Quaid — but humans and animals on equal footing to make the best of a terribly wet situation. Provocative fun for the whole family. Quite a striking look to the animation. Dig Michel Piccoli as Ferdinand.
Free admission to children and adults dressed in wet animal costumes!
SHE’S ONE OF US
Elle est des nôtres
directed by Siegrid Alnoy
cast Sasha Andres, Catherine Mouchet, Carlo Brandt, Eric Caravaca
France | 2003 | 100 min.
A clinical, disturbing portrait of a woman and many of life’s hardships. Director Alnoy has said the film is a critique of the workplace. To further provide uplifting twists to this uplifting tale one finds murder, a police investigation, and suicide. But Alnoy’s style stands out — and certainly begs comparison with the films of Mike Leigh and Ken Loach.
THE STORY OF MARIE AND JULIEN
L’histoire de Marie et Julien
directed by Jacques Rivette
cast Emmanuelle Béart, Jerzy Radziwilowicz, Anne Brochet, Bettina Kee
France/Italy | 2002 | 150 min.
According to Film Comment, Netflix and the Internet have helped produce a “democratization of cinephilia” so why does the work of great director Jacques Rivette remain so maddeningly difficult to see? As our own contribution to cinemocracy we try for a second time to show Rivette’s newest film. As with most Rivette films part of the challenge the engagement is judging the import of the story itself; part of Rivette’s ongoing project seems to be playing fast and loose with the narrative form — and frequently yielding pleasurable surprises for the viewer. Here we have a thief and his relationship to his dead girlfriend — yes a ghost. And part of the fun is deciding who is the ghost and who is not — and in what ways. Seeing this film for some may be like reading a Henry James ghost story and being perpetually in the middle of one of the master’s page-long sentences.
A TALKING PICTURE
Um Filme Falado
directed by Manoel de Oliveira
cast Leonor Silveira, John Malkovich, Catherine Deneuve, Stefania Sandrelli
Portugal/France/Italy | 2003 | 96 min.
Now in his nineties, de Oliveira, a major director in world cinema, continues to make stimulating, thoughtful films. Here we have a sort of road movie on a cruise, as a number of languages and voice-overs provide the history of Western Civilization until a catastrophe. De Oliveria’s films can appear simple while posing a challenge in using little action to prod and twist dense narratives. As is the case with Jacques Rivette films, a rare opportunity to see a master’s work that has little U.S. availability.
L’Ange de goudron
directed by Denis Chouinard
cast Zinedine Soualem, Hiam Abbas, Rabah Aït Ouyahia, Catherine Trudeau
Canada | 2002 | 99 min.
At the outbreak of the civil war in Algeria, Ahmed and his family fled to Montreal, where, after a three-year wait, they are now about to obtain Canadian citizenship. To feed his family of three, with a new baby on the way, Ahmed has taken a job laying asphalt. One day he finds out that his nineteen-year-old son, Hafid, is involved with a group of militant activists, and is now in hiding, after sabotaging the local office of the immigration authorities. Racing to find him before the police do, Ahmed calls Huguette, Hafid’s girlfriend...
La peau blanche
directed by Daniel Roby
cast Marc Pacquet, Marianne Therien, Frederic Pierre, Jessica Malka
Canada | 2004 | 92 min.
Certainly this Canadian psychological horror/mystery film is an ideal date movie. Thierry meets Claire. Thierry falls in love with Claire. So far so good so safe...so troubling. Thierry’s roommate Henri notices subtle changes in Thierry. Of course, Thierry is dismissive of Henri’s concerns. And, of course, bad things happen in a more spooky way — not so much a slasher film in the slice and dice way. Fun for all the couples out there in French Film Festival/Cable Car couch land.
A WONDERFUL SPELL
directed by Dominique Cabrera
cast Miuo-Miou, Jean-Pierre Léaud, Morgan Marinne, Maryline Canto
France/Belgium/Canada | 2004 | 110 min.
Initially, let us make clear that this stunningly acted, well directed, strikingly shot film is not to be seen as One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest meets World War Two. Set in the summer of 1942 during the war, the film traces the trajectory of simple people thrown into extraordinary situations. A fascinating contrast with Téchiné’s Strayed shown at last year’s Festival. The enigmatic Jean-Pierre Léaud on whose face and psyche one can read the past 45 years of French cinema delivers an intensely personal effective over-the-top performance.