The Facets Cinémathèque is located at 1517 W. Fullerton Ave. in Chicago. For more information on films playing in the Cinémathèque, please call 773-281-4114. To order advance tickets online, visit the TicketWeb website by clicking here.
THE 12th ANNUAL FESTIVAL OF NEW FRENCH CINEMA
It's that time of year again, the time to boycott the multiplex and make your way through the cold, the wind and the snow to the 12th Annual Festival of French Cinema! As always, we bring you the splendid work of emerging French filmmakers, introducing you to the next generation of film writers, directors and actors from France. And as always, we try to bring you a wide selection of genres and styles, which this year range from a battle-between-the-sexes romantic comedy (48 Hours a Day) to a graceful, psychological film noir (), from a day in the life of a French banlieue (Ain't Scared) to an "art history thriller" (Vanishing Point), from an ensemble comedy about creative pursuits (La Vie d'artiste) to a tale about maidens and wolves (The Maiden and the Wolves). Favorite faces to grace the screen this year include Karin Viard (True Enough), Sylvie Testud (The Vanishing Point), Grégoire Colin (The Killer), André Dussollier (True Enough), Sandrine Kiberlain (La Vie d'artiste), Laetitia Casta (The Maiden and the Wolves) and many more! Don't miss special appearances by directors Yamina Benguigui (93: The Memory of a Territory) and Vincent Dietschy (Didine) and don't forget to bring your friends! Dazzle them with your worldliness! Surprise them with your intellect! Suggest an evening at the Festival of New French Cinema!
The festival is co-presented by Facets Multimedia and the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in Chicago, with the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs supplying several prints. The festival is curated by Charles Coleman (Facets Cinémathèque) and Diane Eberhardt (French Cultural Services in Chicago). Special thanks to Laurent Maillaud, French Cultural Attaché in Chicago. Accompanying text was written by Charles Coleman and Diane Eberhardt.
Chicago PremiereOpening Night Film!
48 HOURS A DAY (48 HEURES PAR JOUR)
The battle between the sexes rages on in this energetic romantic comedy starring Aure Atika (Ill Wind, OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies) and Antoine de Caunes as a successful professional couple with diverging opinions about household and parenting responsibilities. As the primary care giver to their two young children, Marianne struggles to remain competitive in her advertising career while managing the many demands of motherhood. While her husband Bruno allows himself to return home late night after night for professional reasons, an important client that should have been assigned to her gets passed on to a male colleague. Frustrated, exhausted and unable to elicit much empathy from her husband, Marianne devises a truly audacious plan: she announces to Bruno that her agency is sending her to Tokyo for six months and that he will need to fend for himself. With the roles now reversed, Bruno finds himself frantically trying to juggle school drop-offs and microwave dinners, nanny auditions and household chores, along with the wrath of a demanding boss with antiquated beliefs about women and work who does not look kindly on Bruno's new schedule. All of this is witnessed with conflicting emotions by Marianne, who is staying in a friend's apartment not far away... Eventually Marianne's plan must collapse on itself, and the narrative leads up to the final confrontation between these two human beings who love each other, their children and their work but got a little lost amidst the demands, expectations, gender roles and responsibilities of modern day life. Supporting roles by Victoria Abril (High Heels, French Twist, Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down) as a tough as nails financial executive who works, lives and earns like a man, and Catherine Jacob as a put-upon assistant with a lazy live-in banana-eating writer boyfriend, are a delight.
Directed by Catherine Castel, France, 2008, 35mm, 108 mins. In French with English subtitles.
Fri., Dec. 5 at 7 pm
Wed., Dec. 10 at 9 pm
IN MOM'S HEAD (LA TETE DE MAMAN
"The film seduces with a surprisingly dense narrative and a decidedly French take on the role of extramarital affairs" -European-Films.net
"Director Carine Tardieu delights with a rich mix of wit and wile" -Chicago Sun-Times
Recommended! "Uncommonly wise about filial bonds" -Chicago Reader
Fifteen year-old Lulu (Chloé Coulloud), a combative, precocious tomboy with a wicked sense of humor and a propensity for temper tantrums, longs to make her mother Juliette (Karin Viard, Le Rôle de sa vie, True Enough) laugh again. Juliette suffers from severe depression, spends much of her time entertaining morbid thoughts about her dead husband and her dead ancestors, and has a complicated relationship with her daughter in which the roles of child and adult are often reversed. When Lulu learns of her mother's first love, a man named Jacques (Kad Merad, Bienvenue chez les Ch'tis) who made her happy twenty years ago, she sets out to search for him and summons him to her mother's side, hoping he will work his magic again. Director Tardieu combines reality with fantasy sequences (where Jane Birkin appears as herself and as Lulu's imaginary substitute mother), adolescent angst with a decidedly adult feel, and dark humor with moments of poignancy and emotional candor in a film about adolescence that is in a whole different ballpark than most.
Directed by Carine Tardieu, France, 2007, 35mm, 95 mins. In French with English subtitles.
Fri., Dec. 5 at 9 pm
Sun., Dec. 7 at 7 pm
Chicago PremiereSpecial Family Film!
This trippy, comical and charming full-length animated feature, with vivid watercolors that literally fly, a jazzy violin score and madcap characters, this coming of age fairytale follows the melancholy Princess Mona as she learns about loyalty, love and how to have fun. Directed by Serge Elissalde & Grégoire Solotareff, France, 2006, 35mm, 75 mins. In French with English subtitles.
THE MAIDEN AND THE WOLVES
(LA JEUNE FILLE ET LES LOUPS)
"A ripping Gallic yarn... [with] some of the finest lupine thesping ever committed to celluloid" -Variety
"The perverse charm of this wildly erratic film is its refusal to be pigeonholed" -TimeOut Chicago
Recommended! "Director-cowriter Gilles Legrand belongs to the French tradition of grand, loony visionaries that stretches from Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Raymond Bernard, and Abel Gance all the way back to Georges Melies" -Chicago Reader
While humans may be at the head of the food chain, there exists in the wild signs of intelligence and even emotion that suggest our fellow creatures understand trust, loyalty and family on a much deeper level. Producer-turned-Director Gilles Legrand (Malabar Princess) returns to the French Alps for The Maiden and the Wolves. This Gallic yarn stars French actress and supermodel Laetitia Casta as Angele, a feisty Edwardian-era femme whose fate becomes entangled with that of the last wild wolf pack on Mont Blanc. Not long before World War I, in a French Alpine town near the Italian border, a pack of slaughtered wolves is delivered to local taxidermist Leon Patrick Chesnais. A surviving black cub comes down from the mountains looking for his family and is saved from discovery and certain death by Leon's young daughter, Angele, who releases him back into the wild. Years later, as a young woman longing for adventure and a career in veterinary medicine, Angele must fight sexism, discrimination and the capitalitistic greed of the town's new mayor to save the remaining wolves from extermination. Their fate seems hopeless until tragedy strikes her own life high upon the snowy slopes one night, and she makes the encounter of a mysterious Gypsy mountain hermit who shares a special bond with the wolves. Legrand's directing rattles along at a breathless clip and takes the viewer on a dazzling visual journey filled with the rich texture of soft white landscapes, dark forests and the thick, luxurious fur of the wolves.
Directed by Gilles Legrand, France, 2008, 35mm, 110 mins. In French with English subtitles.
Sat., Dec. 6 at 1 pm
Thurs., Dec. 11 at 9 pm
Actor and first-time director Barthélémy Grossmann's 13m2 is a down-and-dirty and claustrophobic urban thriller in the tradition of the early films of Mathieu Kassovitz. José (Grossmann) is looking for a way out of his small time suburban life. After overhearing his girlfriend and stepbrother talking, he and his two best friends arrive at a plan to attack and rob an armored vehicle full of cash. But everything goes wrong and they are forced into hiding inside of a 13 square meters bunker. There, they will have to test their friendship, their motivations, and their loyalty, as every move outside triggers even more paranoia. As a young actor, Grossmann decided that the roles he was being offered were not interesting enough, so he became a writer-director and wrote himself a role in a tough thriller told from the criminal's perspective. The desperate dialogue among the three petty crooks has more in common with Samuel Beckett than Quentin Tarantino, and Grossmann could be a force to be reckoned with if he keeps up this tough yet touching filmmaking. "If I'm not the next generation of European film directors, then I don't know who is," he says, without a hint of irony. His filmmaking heroes are American directors like Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola and John Cassavetes, who began their careers as driven iconoclasts working outside the studio system. "I like their attitude and lifestyle," Mr. Grossmann says. "If they didn't make movies, they'd die. All day long I think about film -- like those guys. I want people who see two minutes of my films to say 'that's a Barthélémy Grossmann movie.'"
Directed by Barthélémy Grossmann, France, 2007, 35mm, 84 min. In French with English subtitles.
Sat., Dec. 6 at 3:15 pm
Mon., Dec. 8 at 9 pm
THE VANISHING POINT
(CE QUE MES YEUX ONT VU)
"A cerebral, visually impressive reflection on concealment and revelation in art... Testud, one of the brightest of France's young acting talents, is faultless" -Hollywood Reporter
"Director Laurent de Bartillat creates a fine mystery of romance that's veiled in pigments" -Chicago Sun-Times
Recommended! "Highly imaginative" -Chicago Reader
The always interesting Sylvie Testud (La France) stars as Lucie, a talented and dedicated art history graduate student obsessed by the paintings of 18th century French artist Antoine Watteau. Intent on uncovering the identity of a mysterious woman who appears in many of his canvases but is always only seen from the back, she begins a relentless and exhausting search for answers. Her quest takes her to an art auction in Belgium where she bids for a work she can't afford, opens her up to the scorn and ridicule of her thesis director, inspires her to research the work of a contemporary of Watteau, and leads her to an unexpected friendship with a mysterious mime who performs in the square across from the photocopy shop where she works and may have clues for her to investigate. Lushly photographed and exquisitely composed, this "art thriller" takes the viewer down the path of one woman's obsession and explores emotions both violent and delicate that are shared and unleashed the deeper she travels down her journey.
Directed by Laurent de Bartillat, France, 2007, 35mm, 89 mins. In French with English subtitles.
Sat., Dec. 6 at 5 pm
Sun., Dec. 7 at 1 pm
Chicago Premiere with filmmaker Yamina Benguigui
9-3: THE MEMORY OF A TERRITORY
(9-3: MEMOIRE D'UN TERRITOIRE)
Award-winning feature and documentary filmmaker Yamina Benguigui focuses her new documentary on a large piece of real estate located outside of Paris: Department number 93. In the 19th century, the city of Paris initiated a policy to relocate its most polluting industries to the northeast outskirts of the city so that the wind from the east would not blow its foul-smelling and hazardous emissions into the city. The area grew to become one of Europe's largest industrial hubs, attracting poor French workers from rural communities as well as immigrants from all over Europe and beyond, who labored in deplorable conditions in factories where most ended up dying from exposure to the toxic fumes and dust. Workers were crammed into small living quarters built by their employers and situated near the factories, where they did their best to survive in over crowded communities and drastically unsafe environments. The documentary charts the history and life of Department 93 through its many changes, as it went from being a center of industry to an urban wasteland after the factories closed. It follows the different waves of immigration, political movements and failed public housing policies to arrive finally at the state of 93 today, which is the sadly famous French banlieues, where residents feel ghettoized and isolated, where university graduates searching for employment falsify their address to improve their odds, and where the youngest cities in all of France have the highest unemployment rate, which in some areas reaches a jarring 40 per cent. Starting with images of the 2005 riots and then switching to the 19th century, Benguigui provides a fascinating and unflinching look at the injustices of the past and the reality of the present, mixing interviews with municipal leaders, architects, community organizers and residents of the housing projects with riveting archival footage going back decades.
Directed by Yamina Benguigui, France, 2008, DVD, 90 mins. In French with English subtitles.
Of French-Algerian heritage, Yamina Benguigui has spent her career exploring issues such as immigration, discrimination and the marginalization of women in the housing projects of contemporary Europe. She is the writer-director of four documentaries, including Les Défricheurs, Le Plafond de verre and Histoires d'immigrés: l'héritage maghrébin; one short (Pimprenelle); and one feature, Inch' Allah dimanche. In addition to her work as a filmmaker, Yamina Benguigui also serves as special assistant to the Mayor of Paris, who recruited her to lead a task force in charge of human rights and the fight against discrimination. Yamina Benguigui is expected to attend the screening and participate in a Q&A.
Please note that she will also participate in a symposium on urban design and architecture held at Northwestern University December 5-6, entitled "Towards a History of Design in the Global Economy," where the issue of urban sprawl and how it relates to the French banlieues will be specifically addressed. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. Anticipated keynote speakers are French scholars Christian Devillirs and Jean-Louis Cohen.
Recommended! "The whole cast is good — especially Elodie Bollee as the heroine's ballsy coworker — and writer-director Vincent Dietschy has a real flair for casual French realism and humor" -Chicago Reader
Alexandrine Géraldine Pailhas (The Price to Pay, The Cost of Living), known as Didine to her friends, is a quirky, impulsive and antisocial 30-something woman casually drifting through life with little ambition or sense of direction. She is the polar opposite of best friend Muriel Julie Ferrier, a driven, successful and emotionally needy entrepreneur who can't live alone. When Didine finds a teddy bear left behind while visiting her friend in the hospital and makes the decision to return it to its owner, she sets off a chain of events that dramatically alters her life and brings new people into it. As a new volunteer for a charitable organization that visits the elderly, Didine encounters the sharp-tongued, contemptuous and stubborn Mme Mirepoix (Edith Scob, an extraordinary veteran actress who has been in many films, including, Heartbeat Detector, The Ring Finger, Comedy of Innocence), whose friendship and respect must be earned with patience and perseverance. The fact that the elderly woman has a handsome nephew who visits every week makes this perseverance easier to commit to for Didine, and provides viewers with some delightful and off-beat romantic interaction between the two. Light on plot and heavy on charm, this little French dramedy is in love with its characters and conveys the feeling well, following Didine and the emotional entanglements of her friends with generosity, tenderness and humor. Directed by Vincent Dietschy, France, 2008, 35mm, 103 mins. In French with English subtitles.
At the age of 19, Vincent Dietschy entered the famed IDHEC film school in Paris, where he befriended a number of fellow students and future filmmakers (Laurent Cantet, Dominik Moll and others). Eventually, he formed his own production company and worked on a number of collective projects over the years in a number of roles, serving in turn as writer, director, editor and more. All together, he worked on ten medium length films and three features, one of which was Julie est amoureuse, his first feature. It would take seven more years for him to direct Didine, his second feature.
Filmmaker Vincent Dietschy will be here for a Q&A after both screenings.
Sat., Dec. 6 at 9:15 pm
Sun., Dec. 7 at 3 pm
LA VIE D'ARTISTE
Ostensibly a frothily good-natured French social comedy, Marc Fitoussi's La Vie d'artiste bristles with trenchant observations and sometimes cruel verities about the frustrations of creative pursuit. Interlocking narratives follow three characters who pursue their solitary aspirations to artistic excellence. Alice (Sandrine Kiberlain, Seventh Heaven, After You) has found success in the movie dubbing industry, where she supplies the voice for a popular Japanese anime female action figure, but fears that legitimate recognition in the acting world is slipping out of her grasp. Cora (Émilie Dequenne, Fissures, The Housekeeper) is an aspiring vocalist working as a karaoke hostess who reveres the tradition of French chanson but cannot find her place in the 21st-century pop universe. And Bertrand, portrayed in a sublimely painful performance by the priceless Denis Podalydès (It's Easier for a Camel, Liberté-Oléron) is a teacher obsessed with completing that elusive second novel and prepared to compromise himself horribly in the hope of reviving his flagging muse. Disaster, humiliation and bad judgment await all three characters round every corner, but filmmaker Fitoussi guides his trio to eventual self-knowledge with compassion and satisfying mischief. (BFI London Film Festival)
Directed by Marc Fitoussi, France, 2007, 35mm, 107 mins. In French with English subtitles.
Sun., Dec. 7 at 5 pm
Sat., Dec. 13 at 9 pm
Special Jury Prize Durban Intl Film Fest
Recommended! "Audrey Estrougo spent her teenage years in a housing project on the outskirts of Paris, and her intimate knowledge of that treacherous landscape informs this funky debut feature" -Chicago Reader
"Estrougo...gets around film cliches about young love, as well as the game faces that adolescents hide behind" -Chicago Sun-Times
An astonishing debut for 23-year-old director Audrey Estrougo, Ain't Scared chronicles one day in the emotional life of a Parisian housing project. It focuses on a group of young people, each of whom tries in his own way to express deep feelings for someone else while simultaneously maintaining the hard emotional shells needed to survive in these mean streets. This is a very moving story of teenage boys and girls and the struggles that plague them, both large and small. By simply documenting a day in their lives, Ain't Scared reveals itself as a startling, piercing insight into banlieue life, the likes of which have rarely been explored in cinema since Mathieu Kassovitz's Hate. Filmmaker Audrey Estrougo lived in the banlieues for several years, and Ain't Scared is her first fiction feature as a writer and a director. Since the mid-1990’s French filmmakers have turned their cameras on the banlieues, the working-class housing projects of France and Ain't Scared presents some of the ways in which French banlieues and their inhabitants are depicted in film. There are significant misrepresentations of the banlieues in modern culture and the social crises facing their inhabitants. It is particularly difficult for women to cope with the harsh reality of gender roles in the banlieues and the unwritten code that determines who you can and cannot date.
Directed by Audrey Estrougo, France, 2006, 35mm, 93 mins. In French with English subtitles.
A symbiotic relationship develops between a professional assassin and his mark in The Killer, a minimalist but stylish thriller, by debut writer-director Cédric Anger. In a mix of mystery, fear and paranoia, a gentleman's agreement improbably develops between a hit man and his victim in this unconventional psychological noir. When the hitman, Kopas (Grégoire Colin, Beau Travail, The Dreamlife of Angels) steps into the office of a financial investor Léo Zimmerman (Gilbert Melki), the latter already knows why. Zimmerman is the unhappily married but adoring father of an eight-year-old daughter. He is involved in a murky business deal with his partner, whom he knows is also chatting up his wife behind his back. The viewer never finds out what kind of transactions are involved, but a hit has been put on Zimmerman's head and he knows it. He tries to make a deal with his murderer, asking for a few days to say goodbye to his daughter and put his life in order. The Killer is an ingenious character study of an assassin and a victim, offering protraits of two contrasting energies and psyches, one a nervous businessmen, restless in everything, but determined in his aims, the other a cold-blooded, seemingly emotionless and nearly taciturn killer with no strong direction. But their pact changes these men forever In his first full-length feature, Cédric Anger chooses two powerful characters who move in an world that is quite different from picturesque Parisian boulevards. The Killer is an excellent example of the gritty yet melancholic crime genre with psychological insight, populated by tortured characters who grapple with their inner struggles. "The characters are rather one-dimensional figures: we know nothing about their past, present or future, they have no psychological depth. This isn't a realistic film, but a sort of dream-like meditation on these figures in this neighborhood in eastern Paris." (Cédric Anger).
Directed by Cédric Anger, France, 2007, 35mm, 91 min. In French with English subtitles.
Tues., Dec. 9 at 7 pm
Sun., Dec. 14 at 3 pm
ON THE ROPES
(DANS LES CORDES)
"The film finds a warm, character-driven groove" -TimeOut Chicago
Joseph manages a boxing club in a small suburban city while, at the same time, training his daughter and live-in niece for the French championships. Boxing is everything for this threesome and their lives are consumed by their passion for the sport - a passion that Theresa, Joseph's wife, does not share and does her best to endure. The defeat of one of the two girls throws the survival of the club into peril and shatters the family's equilibrium. Between the two young women, Angie and Sandra, who grew up as close as sisters, a dangerous rivalry begins to emerge, both inside and outside the ring. Filmmaker Richard-Serrano drew on her own personal experiences to make On the Ropes, as her grandfather was a boxer who ran a boxing club, her mother was one of the first female boxers in France and Richard-Serrano herself has twice been crowned the French women's boxing champion. Shot in her hometown of Vitry-sur-Seine, On the Ropes captures with warmth and honesty the struggle of a working-class family for whom boxing is everything. The French do not typically make films about boxing, and this is an absolutely unique look at an uncommon genre through the never before seen perspective of a teenage girl. These performances are so authentic that they have the ring of truth.
Directed by Magaly Richard-Serrano, France, 2007, 35mm, 93 mins. In French with English subtitles.
Tues., Dec. 9 at 9 pm
Wed., Dec. 10 at 7 pm
(LA VÉRITÉ OU PRESQUE)
"[A] breezy, smoothly performed French comedy of manners" -Variety
A gently paced dramatic comedy with strong moments of humor and energy, this film about love, trust and intersecting lives features a terrific ensemble of actors playing characters who search for connection and meaning in contemporary Lyon. Karin Viard (Le Rôle de sa vie, Time Out) stars as Anne, a driven television producer with questionable ethics who will stop at nothing for ratings or a paycheck. Anne is married to Thomas, a literature professor with a crush on the young wife of her own ex-husband, Marc (François Cluzet, Tell No One), himself terrified by impending fatherhood and confused by romantic feelings that seem to be taking him in several different directions. Anne's kid barely speaks to her, she can feel her marriage unraveling, people all around her make demands on her time, and her television show has just been canceled. Enter Vincent, played to exquisite perfection by the magnificent André Dussolier (Tell No One, Public Fears in Private Places), an elegant renaissance man and respected biographer about to begin a new book on the life and work of an obscure French jazz singer. Vincent's refinement and generosity of spirit has an indelible effect on everyone he meets, and when Anne enlists him to turn his book project into a documentary project, the time she spends with him provides both a change of rhythm from her frenetic life and the unexpected tearing down of emotional barriers that opens up new feelings and levels of self-awareness. Director Sam Karmann (who also plays Anne's husband) successfully mixes witty dialogue with sharply observed commentary on the fragility of human love and self-trust, delivering a story both playful and moving.
Directed by Sam Karmann, France, 2007, 35mm, 95 mins. In French with English subtitles.