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2010 ND/NF Classics: In the French Style

For the fifth consecutive year, New Directors/New Films presents a matinee series comprised of past festival highlights.

This year, the focus is on France, a country whose emerging filmmakers have been an integral part of the ND/NF program since its inception.

It has included such future masters of world cinema as André Téchiné, François Ozon and Laurent Cantet. The following five (re)discoveries from the past two decades — none of them currently available on DVD in the U.S. — are no exception.
Blame It on Voltaire (La Faute à Voltaire)
(ND/NF 2001)
2000. France
Directed by Abdel Kechiche
The new “face” of Europe, belonging to African and Arab immigrants, has rarely been as powerfully captured as in this remarkable debut film by writer-director Kechiche (L’Esquive, The Secret of the Grain). Young Moroccan Jallel (beautifully played by Sami Bouajila) comes looking for the lights of Paris but instead finds black-market jobs and crowded hostels. Yet he also discovers a bracing solidarity between newcomers like him and other outcasts from French society — especially Lucie (Élodie Bouchez, from The Dreamlife of Angels), a disturbed young Frenchwoman who gives Jallel a very distinctive experience of his new country. Avoiding sensationalism, Kechiche renders one man’s dreams, fears and desires, as well as the concrete concerns of his daily life.
130 min.
Tue Mar 30: 3:15 (FSLC)
Hometown Blues (Le Bleu des villes)
(ND/NF 2000)
1999. France
Directed by Stéphane Brizé.
How many versions of a life can one live? Are we stuck with our first choice? In his sweet but sturdy first feature, Brizé (Mademoiselle Chambon, Rendez-Vous with French Cinema 2010) asks these questions and many more. Florence Vignon, who co-wrote the script, plays Solange, a put-upon meter maid married to Patrick, who slaves away at the local morgue. Ready to make the move into a new house, life jseems okay for these two until Solange’s childhood friend, now a celebrated TV weather-girl, gives her a glimpse of other possibilities. With visions of a new life in her head, Solange returns to her first love — karaoke singing — and suddenly those house plans fall by the wayside. Moments of deadpan humor buoy this bittersweet tale of upsetting the status quo. 105 min.
Mon Mar 29: 3:15 (FSLC)
Sound and Fury (De bruit et de fureur)
(ND/NF 1989)
1988. France
Directed by Jean-Claude Brisseau
The real-life experiences of French cinema’s enfant terrible Brisseau (Secret Things, Exterminating Angels) inspired this powerful and provocative opening-night film from the 1989 edition of New Directors/New Films. Set in the Paris suburbs, Brisseau’s film explores with sensitivity and signature urgency the loneliness and disaffection of two teenagers, Bruno (Vincent Gasperitsch) and Jean-Roger (François Négret) — innocents in the jungle of high-rises and savage school gangs. Tenderness gives way to violence and back again as these “lost” youths must rely on their street smarts to survive. Winner of the Prix Spécial de la Jeunesse at the 1988 Cannes Film Festival.
95 min.
Fri Apr 2: 3:15 (FSLC)
Victor (Victor…pendant qu’il est trop tard)
(ND/NF 1999)
1998. France
Directed by Sandrine Veysset
On a cold winter’s night, a young boy runs away from his parents and their kinky sexual fantasies, and winds up spinning on the merry-go-round of a carnival that’s come to town. After fainting in the arms of Mick, one of the workers at the fairgrounds, he is taken to the home of Trish, a young prostitute who doesn’t really know what to do with this young thing — she’s got problems of her own. But Victor seems to be the impetus for Trish to take control of her life, and likewise, Victor comes to life in her (maternal) arms. Veysset (Will It Snow for Christmas?) finds the poetry in reality in this down-to-earth fairy tale, and turns the concept of family on its head.
88 min.
Wed Mar 31: 3:15 (FSLC)
When the Cat’s Away (Chacun cherche son chat)
(ND/NF 1997)
1996. France.
Directed by Cédric Klapisch
In this delightful opening-night film of the 1997 New Directors/New Films, young and hip makeup artist Chloé (Garance Clavel) can’t find anyone to watch her cat while she goes on vacataion, so she leaves her precious Gris-Gris in the care of an eccentric old woman. When she returns, she finds the cat has disappeared. Aided by a cadre of senior citizens, who search for the missing feline with an enthusiasm not seen since D-Day, Chloé encounters myriad locals that she would never have otherwise met. Likewise, writer-director Klapisch (L’Auberge Espagnole, Paris) lets his camera wander in unexpected directions as we discover how the disparate characters of a neighborhood come together to form a community.
91 min.
Thu Apr 1: 3:15 (FSLC)

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