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This year's installment of the Rendezvous with French Cinema series, The 19th edition -- presented by the Film Society of Lincoln Center and Unifrance Films -- annually showcases a slice of contemporary French film of the previous year.
Running from March 6th through the 16th, 2014, this festival features several interesting new works at three venues: The Film Society, the IFC Center and BAMcinématek.
In François Ozon's Young & Beautiful, a gorgeous 17-year-old — Marine Vacth, in a striking, quasi-Bressonian performance — decides to become a call-girl. The director's films are consistently stylistically accomplished and this is no exception — his handling of camera-movement, camera-placement, composition for the frame, and editing are remarkable.
Ozon, working from his own screenplay, achieves some unexpected pathos and his refusal to explain his protagonist is admirable, although I would have appreciated greater artistic ambition here, as I would regarding the director's other films.
The digital image in Young & Beautiful is mostly handsome although some sensuality is attenuated in scenes with bright light. The sphinx-like Charlotte Rampling has a memorable cameo and the great French actress, Nathalie Richard, is featured in a small role. A final bonus is the expressive use of several Françoise Hardy songs on the film’s soundtrack, each one marking a passage of time.
In Jacques Doillon’s Love Battles, from the director’s own screenplay, a young woman engages in a series of erotic and romantic confrontations with a man whom she has fixated upon. Doillon is faithful to his austere conception and risks tedium in the pursuit of artistic honesty and refusal to charm but this certainly has many of the impressive qualities that distinguish the director’s original body of work.
The intertwining of aggression and hostility with vulnerability and tenderness is remarkable here and the female lead, Sara Forestier, gives an especially compelling performance. The film is shot in a relatively loose style, with a lot of handheld shots, generating an unusual intimacy. The use of a digital format, however, proves to be a serious liability as the copious bright sunshine in the film washes out the image due to the narrow range of contrast.
Agnès Jaoui's entertaining Under the Rainbow is about, among other things, a romance between a music student and the daughter of an industrialist, interspersed with fairy-tale elements. Working with her regular writing partner, Jean-Pierre Bacri — who brilliantly co-stars with Jaoui here — the filmmaker has constructed an clever screenplay with excellent dialogue. The mise-en-scène, however, is undisciplined, lacking the elegance of an earlier feature like Look at Me. This weakness is further compounded by the inadequacies of the digital format.
Serge Bozon's eccentric Tip Top follows the investigation by two Internal Affairs operatives into the murder of an immigrant Algerian informant. The unusual tone here is engaging and it’s pleasurably disorienting effect is enhanced by delightful, comic performances by Isabelle Huppert and Sandrine Kiberlain, in the lead roles. The director's style is formally controlled and characterized by abundant visual wit although the formal splendors are hampered by the deficiencies of the digital format. (The intriguing Bozon was the subject of a Film Society retrospective a few years ago.)
Bertrand Tavernier's Quai d'Orsay observes the circus-like atmosphere in which a newly hired young speechwriter attempts to please his employer, a Minister of foreign affairs. Thierry Lhermitte gives a bravura performance as the manic politician but Niels Arestrup as the chief deputy is even more impressive.
Quai d'Orsay is not without interest but does not rise to the level of the director's best films, such as Coup de Torchon or Captain Conan. The absorbing classicism that opens the film settles into a somewhat routine conventionality for most its length. Here, again, the reliance on a digital format lamentably diminishes the visual texture.
For more information go to: www.filmlinc.com/films/series/rendez-vous-with-french-cinema-2014
Film Society of Lincoln Center70 Lincoln Center PlazaNew York, NY 10023
IFC Center323 Avenue of the AmericasNew York, NY 10014
BAMcinématek30 Lafayette AvenueBrooklyn, NY 11217
Read more: Open Roads—New Italian Cinema 2013
Fall ushers in the festival season, and that means the return of the Woodstock Film Festival. Running October 10 - 14 in scenic Woodstock, NY, the festival has a full slate of indie features, animation, documentaires, shorts and more. The festival also features a special segment for VR experiences, as well as panel discussions and awards.
The festival opens with Karl Berger - Music Mind, directed by Julian Benedikt, which follows the life of legendary jazz improvisational pioneer and longtime Woodstock resident Karl Berger. A concert featuring Karl Berger, Ingrid Sertso and Steven Bernstein, Billy Martin, Peter Apfelbaum, Ken Filiano, and special guest Marliyn Crispell will happen after the screening.
There is also a special slate of music video screenings from acts including Japanese Breakfast, Toulouse, Journey Blue Heaven, Boogrov, and more.
Special guests to the festival also include Steve Buscemi, William Fichtner, Julie Taymor, Rosamund Pike, Bill Plympton, Christopher Lloyd and Stanley Tucci.
Photos from the Woodstock Film Festival preview party, courtesy of John Mazlish Fine Art Photography
To learn more, go to: http://woodstockfilmfestival.org/
19th Annual Woodstock Film FestivalOctober 10 - 14, 2018
A slew of new compelling short stories are coming to the first ever Ojai Short Film Festival (OSFF) in Ojai, California. Running October 6 to 7th at Greater Goods (145 West El Roblar Drive), the festival features 27 films from all over the world such as the award winning Night Shift, produced by Viola Davis’ production company JuVee. There’s additional star power behind the mother daughter story, Little Match Girl, starring two-time Academy Award winner Kim Magnusson and Golden Globe nominee Rebecca Ferguson.
The festival’s co-founders, Sunil Sadarangani and Aman Segal, believe in the power of short films because of the impact it can spawn on its creators for bigger business ventures. In other words, small content is a vehicle for a longer journey in the filmmaking and entertainment business—it helps creatives get their work in front of audiences.
"Digital tech has given filmmakers a freer hand to fully express their craft using superior production methods to communicate powerful narratives in a limited time span,” Sadaranganitold a Ventura Countylocal paper. “Creators from diverse cultures and communities, therefore, are more than ever seeking a common ground to reconnect, ideate and showcase their debut work for better business prospects and a short film festival is that perfect conduit.”
In addition to the artistic push it gives creators, it also helps that the festival’s prime location is a beautiful place. “Ojai is a destination town,” Sadarangani said. “Its unique geographic location nestled right at the foot of the Los Padres National Forest provides natural magnetic vibration of earth, rock, flora, and fauna.”
“It has attracted many people to hone their art, music, and creations, and is home to many such artists,” he added.
In the end, what matters most is how much short content will grow and evolve as a business venture in the future. Both the co-founders of Ojai see a bright outcome within the next few years because of establishments like OSFF.
“The Ojai Short Film Fest's vision is to provide Filmmakers and Artists, from around the globe, a platform that empowers them to share their stories and to bring the Ojai community closer to the world,” shared OSFF co-founders Sadarangani and Segal. “Moreover,short-form content will be a major revenue stream for filmmakers in a few years, and we want to stay ahead of this ever-evolving, digital universe curve. As filmmakers ourselves, we have faced it all. It’s time for us to take the reins and gallop ahead.”
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