2006 Festival

2006 poster2006 poster THE BIG RISK
Classe tous risques
directed by Claude Sautet
cast Lino Ventura, Sandra Milo, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Marcel Dalio
France| 1960 | 110 min.


As Hollywood Film Noir continues to receive praise and study, so should the French Gangster flicks with their cool, distanced style. Here we present a restored print of a must-see. The performances of Belmondo, already a cult figure of the French New Wave, and Ventura stand out among the overall good performances. A beautifully shot black-and-white noir/drama that achieves a complex psychology....

directed by S. Pierre Yameogo
cast Blandine Yaméogo, Claire Ilboudo, Celestin Zongo, Abdoulaye Komboudri
Switzerland/France/Burkina Faso| 2005 | 89 min.

Reminiscent of Sembene's Moolaadé, this mother/daughter tale is inspired by actual events. Through the story of Napoko, a woman who is cast out of her village after accusations that she is a witch, the film brings to light the superstitions and traditional practices that are still part of life in Burkina Faso, and exposes the effects their misuse has on women's lives. While Yaméogo makes it clear where his feminist sympathies lie, he never lets his critical eye wander too far from his characters. The verité footage of a real life city shelter for accused witches is arresting. Senegalese artist Wasis Diop's music and the voice whet the appetite for next year's African Film Festival. Winner of the Prix de L'Espoir at the 2005 Cannes Film Festival.

directed by Louise Archambault
cast Sylvie Moreau, Macha Grenon, Juliette Gosselin, Myléne St-Sauveur
Canada| 2005 | 102 min.

Director Archambault in this her debut feature shows a skill in handling the players and steers clear of turning this piece into an overt "message movie." A direct telling of a nomadic mother and daughter. Wisely absent of special effects and extravagant, overly showy camera movement, Archambault crafts an engaging, timely narrative. A film that works best through quietude, a tempering of customary overwrought scene-chewing drama. Not to be overlooked.

directed by Patrice Chéreau
cast Isabelle Huppert, Pascal Greggory, Claudia Coli, Thierry Hancisse
Germany/France/Italy| 2005 | 90 min.

Among U.S. arthouses, director Chéreau has quietly given us an atlas on human relations (Those Who Love Me Can Take the Train, Intimacy). In Gabrielle, poetic language replaces the actions seen in earlier works. Husband Jean (Pascal Greggory) discovers a letter of wife Gabrielle (Huppert) which sets off .... Huppert is drawn to roles that push the limits of narrative film. This film dares but ultimately resists the label "theatrical."

directed by Abdellif Kechiche
cast Osmon Elkharraz, Sara Forestier, Sabrina Ouazani, Nanou Benhamou
France| 2003 | 117 min.

The second film of Kechiche draws its restless energy from its setting in the Parisian projects, recently the scene of widespread rioting by marginalized young second-generation immigrants. Tunisian-born Kechiche gets inside the head of a shy teenager (Osman Elkharraz), who overcomes the taunts of his friends to act in a school production of a classic 18th century play, if only to perform opposite the girl of his dreams. L'Esquive swept the French César Awards, winning Best Film, Best Director, Best Screenplay, and Best Female Newcomer (Sara Forestier).

Le Fantôme d'Henri Langlois
directed by Jacques Richard
France| 2004 | 128 min.

This film is both an informative document and a valentine to Langlois. Making use of archival footage (appropriately enough) along with numerous interviews, Langlois is given his proper place in cinema and in French culture. Richard's documentary comes close to capturing Langlois's passion for all cinema, not to mention life. Note that we are screening the director-approved "theatrical" version; a longer version will be released in late Spring.

Comment conquérir l'Amérique
directed by Dany Laferriére
cast Michel Mpambara, Maka Kotto, Sophie Faucher, Sonia Vachon
Canada/Haiti| 2004 | 96 min.

Gégé, a young Haitian, leaves Port-au-Prince for Montréal with one goal in mind: to conquer America by seducing a blonde model he's seen in a magazine. He joins his Uncle Fanfan who emigrated twenty years earlier, traded his poetry for a taxicab, and now dreams of returning to his homeland. Over the course of one night filled with humor and friendship the two take stock of their lives, memories, and fantasies. Television is an omnipresent character as various celebrities draw an amusing portrait of North American society.

directed by Lucile Hadzihalilovic
cast Zoé Auclair, Bérangére Haubruge, Lea Bridarolli, Marion Cotillard
Belgium/France/UK| 2004 | 115 min.

David Lynch meets Picnic at Hanging Rock in a girls school. A coming of age with some semblance of a narrative. Striking cinematography. Maturing girls being educated about ballet, "death" forests. Pleasurably allusive and provocative in its dense symbolism. Enjoy. A must see. Director Hadzihalilovic who previously worked with noted/notorious French director Gaspar Noé is at work on her next project — we anxiously await.

directed by Claire Denis
cast Michel Subor, Grégoire Colin, Yekaterina Golubeva, Béatrice Dalle
France| 2004 | 130 min.

While playing fast-and-loose with narrative, Denis still creates a compelling film on wanderlust, French history, invasions and intrusions, and a male in crisis. Michel Subor, who played the commander in Denis' other masterpiece Beau Travail, plays a heart-transplant/damaged man in search of his lost son. But such a "plot" doesn't approach the sustained resonance of the beautifully shot images. One could argue that Beau Travail is but one chapter – or, perhaps a prelude – to L'intrus. Challenging arthouse cinema of the highest order that rewards multiple, close viewings.

directed by Karin Albou
cast Fanny Valette, Elsa Zylberstein, Bruno Todeschini, Hedi Tilette de Clermont-Tonnerre
France| 2005 | 96 min.

Set on the outskirts of Paris, La petite Jérusalem is the largely Jewish neighborhood where religion, ethnic struggle, philosophy, love, and desire collide. Two young Orthodox sisters face spiritual and emotional crises in this sensitive and sensual portrayal." (Kino International). Karin Albou a previous Festival visitor continues to make quiet "women's pictures‚" in which insight replaces loud larger-than-life emoting and splashy camera movement.

directed by Robin Aubert
cast Isabelle Blais, Sylvie Boucher, François Chenier, Pierre Collin
Canada| 2005 | 117 min.

Continuing in the Festival tradition of tough, extreme, somewhat over-the-top narratives, Martyrs... is presented for your yikes! ... and yuks! As VARIETY says, "William Castle meets David Lynch in the widescreen horror romp." Welcome to a Quebec hellhole where several investigators check out mysterious happenings – throw in a ghost of a bride appropriately strange décor and one has an ideal travel and tourism film for Canada. There's an appealing ambiguity in director Aubert's narrative in that one cannot be sure how much he's giving the audience a send-up of horror genres (Scream?) or aiming to scare us with his disturbed vision. Strap on your Cable Car couch safety belts and go for the ride!

Quand la mer monte...
directed by Yolande Moreau and Gilles Porte
cast Yolande Moreau, Wim Willaert, Olivier Gourmet, Jack Berroyer, Jacques Bonnafe
Belgium/France| 2005 | 89 min.

Winner 2005 César Awards for Best Actress and Best First Film. A deeply personal, off-beat romantic comedy of a middle-aged actress's work and love on the road. Directors Moreau and Porte balance the grit of life on the road with inventive characters and plot twists – all set against northern France's oddly lush industrial landscapes. "A bittersweet road film that approaches the eloquence of Fellini's La Strada." (New York Times) A rare film that blends the arthouse and the mainstream.