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Saturday, February 28, 2015


Liv Corfixen and Nicolas Winding Refn in MY LIFE DIRECTED BY NICOLAS WINDING REFN
Courtesy of RADiUS

2015, 60 minutes
Rated PG-13 for some violent and suggestive material

Review by Joshua Handler

My Life Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn is currently playing an exclusive one-week run at the Film Society of Lincoln Center.  Saturday evening's screenings include a Q&A with Corfixen and Refn and an introduction by Corfixen and Refn.  The film is also available on VOD.

Liv Corfixen's My Life Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn is a brief, but illuminating documentary that Corfixen filmed while her husband, Nicolas Winding Refn, was directing Only God Forgives, his Thailand-set 2013 thriller starring Ryan Gosling.  While this film is ultimately far too short, it is ridiculously entertaining and a fascinating look into what happens behind the scenes on a film set.  Yes, we've all seen making-of documentaries before, but it never hurts to see another one with a subject like Refn, especially when it opens with legendary director Alejandro Jodorowsky reading tarot cards for Refn.

After the massive acclaim and Cannes Best Director win for Drive, there was enormous pressure on Refn to follow it up with something great.  So, he decided to go to Thailand with Ryan Gosling and shoot Only God Forgives, a film that turned out to be, as Corfixen predicted, a very polarizing piece of work.  Corfixen decided to take their two children out of school for the six months that Refn needed to be in Thailand for the shoot because the separation was too hard on them during the Drive shoot.

While My Life Direcred by Nicolas Winding Refn is essentially a home movie that received a theatrical release, that's much of the reason why the film is worth seeing.  Because this is a home movie, it's an intimate and not-always-flattering portrait of the famed director.  No matter how many times we've seen a film like this, it's always humbling to see a director struggle through his own film shoot.  On the set of Only God Forgives, Refn has his fair share of doubts.  The experience of shooting and editing the film had Refn and Corfixen on an emotional roller coaster, as the stressful, sleepless six-month-long stay in Thailand took a toll on their relationship.

Overall, My Life Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn is a must-see for cinephiles, aspiring filmmakers, and anyone who has seen Only God Forgives.  Even if you hate Only God Forgives, this will be an enlightening watch, as it gives much of that film perspective.  Again, My Life should've been longer and documented more on-set crises that occurred (Corfixen tells Refn that she wishes he would let her film more of these), but as it is, it is a perfectly enjoyable bite-size piece of cinema.


Friday, February 27, 2015


Film Comment Selects 2015
2015, 108 minutes
Not Rated

Review by Joshua Handler

Film Comment Selects runs through March 5 at the Film Society of Lincoln Center.

Mark Hartley’s Elecrtic Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films is a wildly entertaining documentary about the making and unmaking of Cannon Films, as told from all of the people who worked with them.  In the 1970s, cousins Menaham Golan and Yoram Globus made a few hit films in Israel and decided to move to the United States to make it big in Hollywood.  They bought a company named Cannon Films and garnered a fair amount of success making cheap, schlocky movies.  As time wore on and Cannon became increasingly successful, Golan and Globus expanded the company exponentially and made more and more films until the inevitable happened.

In an introduction to the film, Hartley said that he wanted the players in this crazy story to tell it themselves. What's most admirable about the film, is that Hartley actually lets them do just that.  There's no outside perspectives on this story, only the ones of those who lived through it, making this story as authentic as possible.

Hartley's interviews are illuminating and frequently jaw-dropping.  The access that Hartley had to his interviewees is remarkable.  As the Cannon Films saga goes on, it becomes increasingly surreal.  Sitting in a quiet movie theater is in ways one of the worst places to see a film like Electric Boogaloo because you'll feel the urge to pause the movie, take a moment to process what you've just seen and heard, then comment in disbelief at what you're watching.

What's most admirable about Electric Boogaloo is that it is both a loving and critical portrait of Cannon Films.  It's obvious that Hartley is in awe of Golan and Globus but is also appalled at some of their more questionable decisions.  He isn't afraid to cast a less-than-flattering light on them, which makes the film more balanced and complex.  Most other filmmakers would have been too nostalgic about Cannon Films' releases to even look at the less than savory aspects of their makings, but Hartley is too smart to let the nostalgia cloud his vision.

Overall, Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films is a rich, rewarding, and very well-researched documentary about two of the craziest men to have ever created films.  This film will be especially appealing to film lovers, particularly those who love Cannon Films, but it will also be entertaining for those who know nothing about Cannon Films going into the movie like myself.  It's a shame that this film doesn't yet have U.S. distribution, as it's far better than most other documentaries that get released.


'71 Review

Jack O'Connell stars in ’71.Photo credit: Dean Rogers
2014, 99 minutes
Not Rated

Review by Joshua Handler

The original version of this now-updated review was originally published during the New York Film Festival on September 27, 2014.

Yann Demange's gritty, intense, violent '71 is an impressive debut feature about a young British soldier (Jack O'Connell - he is going to be the next big A-list star, watch) who is accidentally abandoned by his unit while trying to control a riot in Belfast during The Troubles.  From the minute '71 opens, it's a mad rush to the finish.

'71 is reminiscent of a Kathryn Bigelow war film, The Hurt Locker in particular.  There's no pretense in Demange's direction.  He directs with muscle and a sense of urgency, which makes this 44-year-old story feel new and relevant.  Tat Radcliffe's simultaneously harsh and beautiful cinematography adds to the sense of urgency.  A pulse-pounding chase sequence early in the film is a perfect showcase for his talents.

Jack O'Connell is quickly proving himself to be one of the most exciting and powerful young actors working today.  After his gut-wrenching, frightening performance in David Mackenzie's Starred Up and his strong performance in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken, I am sure that O'Connell will be the next big star.  He it both magnetic and humane, making him as watchable as they come.

Geoffrey Burke's intelligent screenplay does an admirable job at mixing action and drama.  While '71 is a thrilling action film through and through, it never sensationalizes the violence and shows its repercussions.  '71 shows the human cost of the clashes in Ireland and never downplays them.

Overall, '71 is an excellent film and one that I would happily view again.  I predict '71 becomes a significant film a few years in the future for introducing audiences to Yann Demange.  He's already lightyears ahead of other directors, and I cannot wait to see what he creates in the future.


Thursday, February 26, 2015


A college campus in THE HUNTING GROUND
Courtesy of RADiUS

2015, 90 minutes
Rated PG-13 for disturbing thematic material involving sexual assault, and for language

Review by Joshua Handler

Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering's searing The Hunting Ground is a timely, disturbing, unnerving documentary.  It's a film that is as horrifying as it is necessary.  Tackling the wrenching subject of college campus sexual assault, Dick and Ziering stare their subject right in the face and through dozens of hard, honest interviews, create a film that will move just about everyone who sees it to action.

College campus sexual assault is an epidemic that everyone knows about.  But while college campus sexual assault is something that everyone knows happens, very few talk about for various reasons.  Campus sexual assault is hard to tackle for many reasons, not least being the fact that most go unreported.  And, when reported to schools, the schools frequently don't take appropriate action.  This is why Dick and Ziering come in.

Dick and Ziering want to make sure that their subjects have a voice.  It's a testament to Dick and Ziering that their interviewees trusted them enough to discuss their experiences with sexual assault in as much detail as they do.  The interviews are the reason to see The Hunting Ground.  Dick and Ziering covered every base they could by interviewing college-age women who have been raped, college-age men who have been raped (this should've been discussed in more detail), and even many former college administrators.  Viewing these raw interviews is heartbreaking, infuriating, and jaw-dropping.  The experience of sexual assault is a topic that most do not want to discuss, but those interviewed in The Hunting Ground are courageous enough to stare it down and speak out.

Almost as damning and unsettling as the aforementioned interviews are the ones with former college administrators.  Listening to these individuals admit that their colleagues did nothing about numerous reported sexual assaults to save their name or the name of their school is almost as tragic as listening to the men and women recounting their sexual assaults.  Dick and Ziering take aim at a few institutions in particular and take them down swiftly.  The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Notre Dame, along with a few fraternities are given much of the film's focus due to their terrible records with covering up sexual assaults.

Overall, while The Hunting Ground isn't the most amazing documentary from a technical standpoint, it is a must-see for its important subject matter and brutally honest interviews.  Dick and Ziering never look down upon or judge their interviewees, but rather, they treat them with the respect that they deserve, and in doing so, they have created an essential documentary that should be required viewing for everyone.


Thursday, February 19, 2015


2014, 89 minutes
Not Rated

Review by Joshua Handler

This review was originally published out of BAMcinémaFest on June 22, 2014.

Back in April when I reviewed Jesse Moss' The Overnighters, I wrote the following about documentaries:
"I frequently feel that great documentaries are more compelling than great narratives because there is no substitute for real life.  However, great as many documentaries are, there are few that can actually be called "profound" or can change your perception on life."
Amanda Rose Wilder's Approaching the Elephant is a documentary that can be called profound.  Wilder's film documents the first year of a "free school".  The one chronicled in this film is the 262nd free school in the world.  In these schools, the students create their own education, and on nearly all matters, the students and teachers vote together, and the students choose what classes, if any, they want to take.

Wilder's film is an immersive look into the first year of the Teddy McArdle school and what happens when a problem student begins to threaten the fragile stability of the school.  What's remarkable about Approaching the Elephant is that Wilder stays neutral on the school.  Never once does her portrait of the school become tainted by her own opinion.  Wilder trusts us enough to allow us to form our own opinions on the school.

Shooting in black-and-white with a 4:3 aspect ratio, Wilder immerses us in the world of the school while remaining invisible to all around her.  Watching Approaching the Elephant, I forgot that someone was behind the camera, that there even was a camera.  Wilder places herself in the middle of every scene and shows everything going on in the school.  No one looks at the camera or even acknowledges it.  Effectively, the camera and Wilder are invisible.

Above all of what I just wrote, what makes Approaching the Elephant such a profound film is that it shows what happens when children are put in a position of authority, when they have an equal vote in everything.  If children are charged with running an organization, it is very likely, as witnessed in this film, that things will quickly become chaotic and ugly.

The film shows how children's cognitive maturity varies even within children in the same age group.  During a few of the McArdle school meetings shown in the film, students try to solve problems.  What's fascinating is that some of the students think of the big picture, while others think only of the present and how the outcome of the meeting would affect the next moment.  This film proves why the "free school" model is risky and why, flaws and all, a traditional school would be more effective than this school.  At least in a traditional school, the children would be safe (you'll see just how unsafe the McArdle school is when you see this movie), the students would learn core subjects that will help them down the road, and they would have stability, something that's distinctly lacking at the McArdle school.

At the Teddy McArdle school the teachers' intentions are good and their hearts are in the right place - there's no doubting that.  However, while some problems can be attributed to first-year growing pains, some others are simply that the children are too powerful with the adults having little to no authority over them.  Again, the fact that Wilder did not shove her opinions about this school in our faces is admirable.

Overall, Approaching the Elephant is a riveting, unsettling, and unusually smart documentary from a documentarian who should be put on everyone's film radars.  A film like this would be a child psychologist's or teacher's dream, but is also completely accessible to general audiences.

APPROACHING THE ELEPHANT will be playing at the Made in New York Media Center from February 20-26.


Monday, February 16, 2015


Érica Rivas as Romina
Photo by Javier Juliá, Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics
2015, 122 minutes
Rated R for violence, language, and brief sexuality

Review by Joshua Handler

Anthology films are risky because nine times out of ten, they are going to be very uneven.  However, in Damián Szifron's vicious Wild Tales, there isn't a weak story to be found.  Certainly there are stories that are better than others, but every single story has its own perverse pleasures.

Wild Tales consists of six stories of revenge, all violent in some way or other.  The first tale is about a highly unusual plane ride; the second is about a woman who must serve an evil loan shark at her restaurant; the third, about a man who irritates a "redneck" while on the road; the fourth, about a discontented bomb technician who is driven mad by the governmental bureaucracy; the fifth, about a wealthy man trying to find a way to cover up for his son who accidentally killed a pregnant woman while driving drunk; and the sixth is about a bride who makes a very disheartening discovery at her own wedding.

A more apt title for Wild Tales would have been, Karma's a Bitch.  While the six stories aren't narratively connected, they are thematically connected.  In every story, karma comes back to haunt the characters.  The film warns its audience to be careful what they do.  Think before you act.

As mentioned, every story in Wild Tales is wonderful, but my personal favorite was either "Bombita (Little Bomb)" (the fourth story) or "Hasta que el muerte nos separe (Until Death Do Us Part)" (the final story).  These are two of the sharpest stories, pushing their respective premises to the limit for maximum impact.  "Bombita" is a scathing piece of social commentary that takes on the Argentinean bureaucracy, which, according to the film, is trying to take money from its citizens any chance it can.  Szifron's commentary is to the point, savage, and frequently very funny.  "Hasta que el muerte nos separe" certainly has some social commentary, but it's more a marvel of storytelling than anything else.  In 20-25 minutes, Szifron crafts a consistently escalating, satisfying, and finally moving story of a wedding gone horribly wrong.  The dialogue is witty and the performances, Érica Riva's in particular, are wonderfully unhinged.

Overall, Wild Tales is an imaginative, fast-paced film with a nasty bite.  A complete crowd-pleaser, this is the antithesis of the typical "Best Foreign Language Film Oscar-nominee".  With the dark Ida, Tangerines, Leviathan, and Timbuktu as the other four nominees this year, it's refreshing to see that the Academy selection committee had enough of a sense of humor to nominate an intelligent (and frequently dirty) comedy like Wild Tales.  It's also almost a guarantee that audiences will react well to this film.  When each story is this captivating and ends with such a satisfying bang, it's hard to not fall for these wild tales.


Monday, February 2, 2015

BREAKING: Rendez-Vous with French Cinema Lineup Announced

By Joshua Handler

The annual Rendez-Vous with French Cinema is almost upon us, and the lineup has been announced. As always, the selection is diverse and exciting with a few films standing out that I will make every effort to review. Those three titles are Quentin Dupieux's Reality, Cédric Jiminez' The Connection, and Marie Amachoukeli-Barsacq, Claire Burger, and Samuel Theis' Party Girl, winner of the 2014 Cannes Film Festival's prestigious Camera d'Or. Below is the press release from the Film Society of Lincoln Center.

RDV 2015 treatment - 20th LOGO



MARCH 6-15

U.S. Premiere of Benoît Jacquot’s 3 Hearts, with Charlotte Gainsbourg,
Chiara Mastroianni, and Catherine Deneuve, will be the Opening Night film, Closing Night selection Reality, the latest comedy from director Quentin Dupieux

In Person Appearances will include Cédric Anger, Nathalie Baye,
Lucie Borleteau, Thomas Cailley, Guillaume Canet, Stéphane Demoustier, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Christophe Honoré, Armel Hostiou, Benoît Jacquot, Cédric Jimenez, Cédric Kahn, Ariane Labed, Melanie Laurent, Abd Al Malik, Chiara Mastroianni, Celine Sallette, Frederic Tellier, and many more 

New York, NY (February 2, 2015) – The 20th Anniversary of Rendez-Vous with French Cinema, the Film Society of Lincoln Center and UniFrance films’ celebrated annual showcase of the best in contemporary French film, sweeps across screens at the Film Society of Lincoln Center, the IFC Center, and BAMcinématek, March 6-15. The 2015 edition returns with another program of features and shorts that exemplify today’s most innovative French artistry by burgeoning talents and avowed masters alike. The lineup—which consists of 22 feature films and four short films making their New York, U.S., or North American premieres—demonstrates that the landscape of French cinema has never been more fertile, and the voices issuing from it never more diverse. This anniversary year also marks a special acknowledgment in support of French cinema with the appointment of two festival Co-Chairs, Nathalie Baye and Martin Scorsese. A complete schedule and additional special events in celebration of the 20th Anniversary will be announced at a later date.

“We are thrilled to be celebrating the 20th Anniversary of Rendez-Vous with French Cinema with our partners at UniFrance films. We have an exciting lineup including a focus on New French Noirs, in the great tradition of Jean-Pierre Melville and Claude Chabrol, with Cédric Jimenez’s The Connection, Cédric Anger’s Next Time I’ll Aim for the Heart, and Frédéric Tellier’s SK1, that will prove the vitality of the genre,” said Film Society of Lincoln Center Senior Programmer, Florence Almozini. “Once again, the festival will also introduce audiences to new talent—Thomas Cailley (Love at First Fight), Thomas Lilti (Hippocrates), Lucie Borleteau (Fidelio, Alice’s Odyssey)—and several seasoned directors will return to introduce their latest oeuvres, Benoît Jacquot, who is opening the festivities, and André Téchiné, Christophe Honoré, Cédric Kahn, Jean-Paul Civeyrac, Quentin Dupieux, and more. Get ready for an amazing 10 days of thrilling French cinema!”

“Twenty years is a fitting anniversary to celebrate French cinema and its love affair with New York, a city which has inspired so many directors, and which has always reserved a warm welcome for French films,” said Isabelle Giordano, Executive Director of UniFrance films. “I’m delighted to present to you the originality, the audacity, the insolence and the glamour that characterize our movie productions, which today are universally recognized as offering a genuine alternative in the global cinematic landscape. I invite you to discover a filmmaking culture, which dares to declare its difference, which likes to entertain, and which loves to provoke. I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank the Film Society of Lincoln Center for our fruitful collaboration, and the New York public for their loyalty. New York has a special place in UniFrance’s heart. North America remains one of the territories where French movies are most appreciated, and it’s here in New York where American film lovers have discovered numerous French actors and directors over the past 20 years.”

The Opening Night selection features the return of master filmmaker Benoît Jacquot and the U.S. premiere of 3 Hearts, a touching and tense drama about destiny, connections, and passion surrounding a classic love triangle between Benoît Poelvoorde (Man Bites Dog), Charlotte Gainsbourg (Nymphomaniac, Melancholia), and Chiara Mastroianni (Persepolis). Director Quentin Dupieux (Rubber) will close the festival with his latest film, Reality, a comedy shot in Los Angeles that stars the hilarious French veteran Alain Chabat with Eric Wareheim and Jon Heder (Napoleon Dynamite), and features Philip Glass’s Music with Changing Parts. The film weaves together the journeys of an 8-year-old girl who finds a mysterious VHS tape, a failed filmmaker shooting his first horror movie, and a culinary TV host who loses his self-confidence because of an imaginary skin disease.

The 20th Anniversary edition of the festival will also introduce audiences to new voices, including the debut feature from Stéphane Demoustier, 40-Love, starring Valeria Bruni Tedeschi; Young Tiger marks the inaugural feature of Cyprien Vial, having written and directed four short subjects (including Cannes prizewinner In Range); actress Lucie Borleteau makes her feature directing debut with Fidelio, Alice’s Odyssey, with Greek actress Ariane Labed (Attenberg, Before Midnight), who won Best Actress at Locarno, starring opposite Melvil Poupoud (Time to Leave, Broken English) and Anders Danielsen Lie (Oslo, August 31st); celebrated rapper and spoken word artist Abd Al Malik makes his directorial debut withMay Allah Bless France!, a candid account of his early life and artistic awakening, shot in black and white, that earned him the FIPRESCI Discovery Prize at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival and two Cesar nominations; and SK1,director Frédéric Tellier’s suspenseful feature debut starring frequent Dardennes collaborator Olivier Gourmet, Christa Théret (star of Rendez-Vous 2013’s Renoir), Raphaël Personnaz (star of Rendez-Vous 2014’s The French Minister), and four-time César winner Nathalie Baye.

Isabelle Giordano, Executive Director of UniFrance films said, “We are delighted this year to enjoy the patronage of one of the most ardent friends of French cinema, Martin Scorsese, and the presence of Nathalie Baye, the perfect figurehead for this prestigious anniversary delegation. Before she embarked on her career with directors like François Truffaut, Claude Chabrol, Bertrand Tavernier, Xavier Dolan and Steven Spielberg, she made her first big-screen appearance under the direction of Robert Wise. This year, France has enjoyed some major hits, both at home and abroad. Building on this energy, the selection of films that you will see over the coming days is more than ever in touch with today’s world, and offers a wealth of singular visions. Enjoy the 20th Rendez-Vous with French Cinema, and dare to discover movies that are made in France!”

Many established actors and filmmakers will also be celebrated this year—in very new roles. Internationally acclaimed actress Mélanie Laurent (Inglourious Basterds) follows up her 2011 feature directorial debut, The Adopted, with Breathe,which received two César nominations; Academy Award winner Jean Dujardin (The Artist) plays against type in The Connection, a gripping thriller from the files of the same criminal ring that inspired William Friedkin’s classic The French Connection and includes an all-star French cast—Benoît Magimel (Isabelle Huppert’s pupil/pursuer in The Piano Teacher), and the luminous Céline Sallette (House of Pleasures)—and received two César nominations; and in Portrait of the Artist, renowned director Bertrand Bonello (House of Pleasures and Saint Laurent, as well as the subject of a retrospective at the Film Society this May) stars as “Bertrand,” a filmmaker approaching his next project with a peculiar obsession—monstrosity, with stars Jeanne Balibar, Barbet Schroeder, and Joana Preiss.

Audiences will also have an opportunity to watch the remarkable Catherine Deneuve, who stars in three films this year—3 Hearts, In the Courtyard (for which she received a César nomination), and In The Name of My Daughter. The latter also stars Guillaume Canet (Tell No One director), who can also be seen in Next Time I’ll Aim for the Heart, in which he plays notorious serial killer Alain Lamare (here renamed Franck Neuhart) opposite Ana Girardot (The Returned).

Award winners are well represented throughout the lineup, including Hippocrates, the second feature from director Thomas Lilti, which received seven César nominations; the gritty Party Girl, which took home two awards at Cannes (including the Camera d’Or) and was a standout in Un Certain Regard; the debut feature from Thomas Cailley, Love at First Fight, a triple winner at last year’s Cannes, where it played in the Directors’ Fortnight and also just received nine César nominations; and Wild Life, directed by Cédric Kahn (Red Lights), which received a special jury prize at the San Sebastian International Film Festival.

The 20th Anniversary also marks the fourth year collaborating with Emerging Pictures on a select number of titles. The films will screen in venues across the country contemporaneously with their showings at Lincoln Center via Emerging’s network of digital theaters. Q&As from the Film Society venues will be broadcast live to many of those locations. The selected titles include Eat Your BonesGaby Baby Doll, Hippocrates, In the Courtyard, Love at First Fight, Portrait of the Artist, and Stubborn.

Filmmakers and talent who will be in attendance at this year’s festival include Cédric Anger, Nathalie Baye, Lucie Borleteau, Thomas Cailley, Guillaume Canet, Stéphane Demoustier, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Christophe Honoré, Armel Hostiou, Benoît Jacquot, Cédric Jimenez, Cédric Kahn, Ariane Labed, Melanie Laurent, Abd Al Malik, Chiara Mastroianni, Celine Sallette, Frederic Tellier, and more to be confirmed at a later date.

Special thanks to the following 20th Anniversary Rendez-Vous with French Cinema sponsors for their support: Renault-Nissan, Lacoste, Piper Heidsiek, L'Oreal, TV5 Monde, La Sacem and to our partners the Cultural Services of the French Embassy NY and the French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF).

Members of the Film Society of Lincoln Center, IFC Center, and BAM Cinema Club will all receive an advance on-sale for their respective venues only, beginning Thursday, February 12. General Public Tickets for the 2015 Rendez-Vous series at all three locations will go on sale Thursday, February 19. Tickets are available online for each participating venue, and respectively, as well as directly from the box offices. For more information, please visit Tickets for Opening Night at Alice Tully Hall will be available online at

FSLC’s Walter Reade Theater is located at is 165 West 65th St. (between Amsterdam Avenue and Broadway) and the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center’s is located at 144 West 65th Street (between Amsterdam and Broadway). The IFC Center is located at 323 Sixth Ave. at West 3rd Street. BAMcinématek is located at 30 Lafayette Avenue, Brooklyn. Alice Tully Hall is located at 1941 Broadway.



Opening Night
3 Hearts / 3 Coeurs
Benoît Jacquot, France/Germany/Belgium, 2014, DCP, 106m
French with English subtitles
While traveling through a small provincial town, reserved and melancholic Parisian Marc (Benoît Poelvoorde, Man Bites Dog) meets by chance Sylvie (Charlotte Gainsbourg), a mysterious and beautiful stranger. The two spend a magical night together and fall madly in love. Without exchanging names or information, they agree to meet by a fountain in Paris, à laAn Affair to Remember—but as in that classic tearjerker, fate conspires against them. Thinking herself jilted, Sylvie returns to her past life, whereupon Marc meets and woos Sophie (Chiara Mastroianni)—blissfully unaware that she’s Sylvie’s sister. Benoît Jacquot, whose Farewell, My Queen was a highlight of Rendez-Vous 2012, directs this romantic and tragic roundelay, co-starring the luminous Catherine Deneuve (Mastroianni’s mother on-screen and off-). A Cohen Media Group release. U.S. Premiere

Closing Night
Reality / Réalité
Quentin Dupieux, France/Belgium, 2014, DCP, 102m
French and English with English subtitles
Quentin Dupieux, the architect of Rubber (which, in case you missed it, was about a sentient, murderous tire), lets his imagination take flight again, resulting in a multi-threaded Lynchian house of mirrors. The only “reality” on view here is a little girl by that name (Kyla Kenedy) who finds a VHS tape inside the carcass of a boar her father is planning to stuff. Meanwhile, the cameraman (Alain Chabat) of a show hosted by a man in a bear suit (Jon Heder, Napoleon Dynamite himself) needs to record the perfect scream for his pet project, a film about killer TVs. You won’t want to miss this unique and hilarious reverie—much more than the sum of its quirks—featuring Philip Glass’s Music with Changing Parts, a perfect sonic analog to Dupieux’s ineffable vision. An IFC Midnight release.

40-Love / Terre battue
Stéphane Demoustier, France/Belgium, 2014, DCP, 95m
French with English subtitles
When Jérôme (Olivier Gourmet), a fiftyish department-store sales manager, loses his job, and his wife Laura (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi) leaves him for another man, all he has left are his pipe dreams and his son Ugo (first-time actor Charles Mérienne). Though only 11 years old, Ugo already shows great promise as a tennis pro, with a trainer eager to recruit him. Jerome cares for Ugo’s auspicious career only grudgingly until a startling development forces him to rethink his priorities. Playing another of his harried “ordinary men,” Gourmet brings trademark authenticity to a role that (like the film’s tennis-entendre English title) skirts both silliness and melancholy. Thanks to his efforts and the preternaturally confident young Mérienne, this first feature by Stéphane Demoustier clears the net on every serve.

Breathe / Respire
Mélanie Laurent, 2014, France, DCP, 91m
French with English subtitles
Internationally acclaimed actress Mélanie Laurent (Inglourious Basterds) follows up her 2011 feature directorial debut, The Adopted, with a perceptive account of high-school angst and obsession. Shy 17-year-old Charlie (Joséphine Japy) becomes fast friends with Sarah (Lou de Laâge), a new arrival in their school. The outgoing Sarah coaxes Charlie out of her shell and becomes a fixture in her home, but when the two go on holiday together their relationship turns sour. Laurent trusts her gifted young stars with challenging long takes and they reward her faith in abundance. Featuring César winner Isabelle Carré (Beautiful Memories) as Charlie’s dysfunctional mother, Breathe echoes Blue Is the Warmest Color in broad strokes but paints its own striking portrait of youthful ardor and codependency. Nominated for two César Awards.

The Connection / La French
Cédric Jimenez, France, 2014, DCP, 135m
French with English subtitles
Academy Award winner Jean Dujardin (The Artist) plays radically against type in this gripping thriller from the files of the same criminal ring that inspired William Friedkin’s classic The French Connection. Dujardin is Pierre Michel, a Marseilles magistrate who dedicates himself to apprehending fearsome heroin czar Gaetano Zampa (Gilles Lellouche, Little White Lies). As in the policiers by Jean-Pierre Melville that it evokes, the principled antagonists of The Connection are two sides of a coin, more like one another than the rats in their respective organizations. Director Cédric Jimenez uses late-70s music and fashion to resurrect the disco-age backdrop against which their vendetta played out. Though highlighted by Dujardin’s Delon-esque turn, the all-star French cast includes Benoît Magimel (Isabelle Huppert’s pupil/pursuer in The Piano Teacher), and the luminous Céline Sallette (House of Pleasures) as Pierre Michel’s wife. Nominated for two César Awards. A Drafthouse Films release. U.S. Premiere

Eat Your Bones / Mange tes morts
Jean-Charles Hue, France, 2014, DCP, 94m
French with English subtitles
After his documentary/fiction hybrid debut The Lord’s Ride, which portrayed the gypsy communities of northern France, director Jean-Charles Hue reunited several of that film’s nonprofessional stars to tell the story of another Romani family. Eighteen-year-old Jason (Jason François), on the verge of baptism, finds his values tested when half-brother Fred (Frédéric Dorkel) returns from a 15-year prison stint anything but rehabilitated. The two, along with a third brother and a cousin, team up to steal a truckload of copper, but they prove to be inept criminals and unstable partners. For this dynamic and absorbing glimpse at an underrepresented culture, Hue received the 2014 Prix Jean Vigo, awarded annually to one director by the Cinema of France “for their spirit of independence and extraordinary style.” U.S. Premiere

Fidelio, Alice’s Odyssey / Fidelio, l’odyssée d’Alice
Lucie Borleteau, France, 2014, DCP, 97m
French, Romanian, Tagalog, Norwegian, and English with English subtitles
Actress Lucie Borleteau makes her feature directing debut with this insightful study of a woman situated in an almost exclusively male milieu. Sailor Alice (Ariane Labed) joins the freighter Fidelio as a replacement engineer, soon discovering that the captain, Gaël (Melvil Poupaud), is a man with whom she was once romantically involved. Though she leaves behind a fiancé on land (Anders Danielsen Lie, Oslo, August 31st), she finds her feelings for Gaël have not abated. Buttressed by a remarkable international cast, Fidelio, Alice’s Odyssey presents a rounded portrait of a passionate woman faced with difficult choices. Greek actress Labed won Best Actress at Locarno for her memorable performance. Nominated for two César Awards including Best Debut Feature.

Gaby Baby Doll
Sophie Letourneur, France, 2014, DCP, 88m
French with English subtitles
As the awkward, insecure bubbly Gaby, Lolita Chammah (Farewell, My Queen) suggests a Gallic Greta Gerwig in one of her not-quite-formed-adult roles. Upon arriving in the country, she’s promptly discarded by her boyfriend, and as solitude is not an option, the companionship-starved Gaby seeks out a replacement. She finds it in Nicolas (Benjamin Biolay), a seemingly hirsute vagabond whose shack she invites herself to share. Director Sophie Letourneur’s follow-up to 2012’sLes coquillettes is a tentative pastoral romance filled with endearing neuroses and an organically unpredictable plot, charming and moving in its investigation of why it is that some simply cannot bear to be alone. North American Premiere

Hippocrates / Hippocrate
Thomas Lilti, France, 2014, DCP, 102m
French with English subtitles
Following up his debut feature, 2007’s Les yeux bandés, Thomas Lilti takes us inside a Paris hospital—an environment he knows well, being a practicing doctor himself. Novice doctor Benjamin (Vincent Lacoste), interning in his father’s ward, makes a rookie mistake that costs a patient his life. The administration quickly covers up his wrongdoing, but the dead man’s wife begins asking questions and Benjamin’s overworked colleagues resent his nepotism. Reda Kateb (A Prophet, Zero Dark Thirty) provides the film’s moral center as Abdel, a skilled physician forced to work as an intern due to his immigrant status, struggling mightily and alone to place patient welfare ahead of staff impunity. Recalling both Arthur Hiller’s The Hospital in its cynical view of the profession and Maïwenn’s Polisse in its tough depiction of state institutions, Lilti’s biting dramedy posits that “Hippocratic” and “hypocrite” share more than linguistic affinities. Nominated for seven César Awards including Best Film. A Distrib Films release. North American Premiere

In the Courtyard / Dans la cour
Pierre Salvadori, France, 2014, DCP, 97m
French with English subtitles
National treasure Catherine Deneuve sinks her teeth into the role of Mathilde, a former social worker inhabiting an upscale apartment with her husband Serge (Féodor Atkine). When slovenly musician Antoine (Gustave Kervern) applies by chance for a caretaker job in their building, Mathilde insists Serge hire him, despite his rough manners and lack of qualifications. An unlikely friendship develops between the depressed custodian and the elegant retiree, whose dependence on Antoine increases as her grasp on reality begins to slip. Best known for light comedies like Après Vous, director Pierre Salvadori handles the shifts in tone adroitly, abetted by nuanced turns from Kervern (himself a director) and the always masterful Deneuve in a César Award-nominated performance. A Cohen Media Group release. North American Premiere

In the Name of My Daughter / L’Homme qu’on aimait trop
André Téchiné, France, 2014, DCP, 116m
French with English subtitles
André Téchiné, whose previous film Unforgivable was a Rendez-Vous 2012 selection, returns with another penetrating psychological drama. In 1976 Nice, young divorcee Agnès Le Roux (Adèle Haenel) falls for shady lawyer Maurice Agnelet (Tell No One director Guillaume Canet), allowing him to manipulate her into handing the casino run by her mother, Renée (Catherine Deneuve), over to the mob. The subsequent disappearance of Agnès and Maurice’s emigration to Panama with her money convinces Renée that he has murdered her, and so she swears to see justice served. Téchiné’s atmospheric recounting of the real-life Affaire Le Roux features a regal turn from Deneuve and further evidence of Haenel’s immense versatility and remarkable talent. A Cohen Media Group release. North American Premiere

Love at First Fight / Les Combattants
Thomas Cailley, 2014, France, DCP, 98m
French with English subtitles
A triple winner at last year’s Cannes, where it played in the Directors’ Fortnight, Love at First Fight offers a warm and refreshing coming-of-age story. Easygoing and naïve Arnaud (Kévin Azaïs) plans to spend the summer helping his brother in the family carpentry business. But when he meets Madeleine (Adèle Haenel), a steely young woman determined on the harshest military service and preoccupied with visions of the apocalypse, he adoringly follows her to boot camp. Thomas Cailley’s first feature may feel unmistakably familiar, yet it offers two alluring and empathetic protagonists (portrayed by equally likable actors), well-wrought humor, and gorgeous cinematography by David Cailley (the director’s brother). Nominated for nine César Awards including Best Film. A Strand Releasing release.

May Allah Bless France! / Qu’Allah bénisse la France!
Abd Al Malik, France, 2014, DCP, 95m
French with English subtitles
Celebrated rapper and spoken word artist Abd Al Malik makes his directorial debut with May Allah Bless France!, a candid account of his early life and artistic awakening that earned him the FIPRESCI Discovery Prize at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival. Born Régis Fayette-Mikano to Congolese immigrants, he grew up in Strasbourg’s housing projects, participating in petty crimes that cost the lives of his friends. He found release in writing and performance, converting to Sufism at age 24 and penning the memoir that informed this adaptation. Marc Zinga ably inhabits the role of young Régis, movingly limning his journey to redemption. Shot in black and white, the film visually and thematically recalls Mathieu Kassovitz’s seminal urban crime drama La Haine. Nominated for two César Awards including Best Debut Feature.

Christophe Honoré, France, 2014, DCP, 102m
French with English subtitles
Perhaps the most ambitious undertaking in this year’s Rendez-Vous, Métamorphoses brings to the screen reimagined tales from Ovid’s magnum opus. The narrative poem, which interweaves mythology with a history of Roman civilization, is transplanted to present-day France, where Jupiter (Sébastien Hirel) absconds with schoolgirl Europa (newcomer Amira Akili). Nestled within their courtship are interludes with Narcissus, Orpheus, and Bacchus, and humans repeatedly changed into animals. Stylist Christophe Honoré (director of the musical melodrama Love Songs, a Rendez-Vous 2008 selection) renders scenes of breathtaking natural beauty and, as befits the gods’ dalliances with mortals, near-constant eroticism. A cinematic experience like no other. North American Premiere

My Friend Victoria / Mon amie Victoria
Jean-Paul Civeyrac, France, 2014, DCP, 95m
French with English subtitles
Based on the story “Victoria and the Staveneys” by Nobel laureate (and oft-filmed author) Doris Lessing, My Friend Victoria relocates its black London heroine to contemporary Paris while retaining her essential, puppet-like passivity. As an 8-year-old orphan, Victoria (Keylia Achie Beguie) is taken into the home of a white bourgeois family for a single night, fueling her dreams of comfort and privilege for the rest of her life. As an adult (now beautifully played by Guslagie Malanda), she reconnects with the youngest son of her host family, bearing his child after a brief affair. All the while she drifts from job to job, independent yet lacking focus—except for that one night from her childhood and its revelations. Director Jean-Paul Civeyrac manages a treatise on race and class that’s subtle, moving, and refreshingly non-didactic, refusing to reduce the characters to symbols or dilute the richness of Lessing’s prose. North American Premiere

Next Time I’ll Aim for the Heart / La Prochaine fois je viserai le coeur
Cédric Anger, France, 2014, DCP, 111m
French with English subtitles
Cédric Anger, once a critic for Cahiers du Cinéma, wrote and directed this chilling chronicle of notorious serial killer Alain Lamare (here renamed Franck Neuhart and played by Guillaume Canet). In a truly mordant twist, while Lamare was terrorizing France in the winter of 1978-79, he was also an outstanding gendarme tasked with apprehending the killer. His victims were all helpless young women, whom he stalked and shot while trying to start a love affair with his pretty cleaning lady (Ana Girardot). Anger follows in the footsteps of Friedkin and Fincher in divesting all glamour from crime, instead showing the dead ends that vex the crime fighters and the dark souls that plague the criminals. The evocative period soundtrack includes Johnny Thunders and The Velvet Underground. Nominated for two César Awards.

Party Girl
Marie Amachoukeli-Barsacq, Claire Burger & Samuel Theis, France, 2014, DCP, 96m
French with English subtitles
Angélique (Angélique Litzenburger) is a sixtyish eccentric hostess living in a small room above a bar in Lorraine. For decades she’s worked for drinks and tips but she clearly loves this flamboyant unconventional way of life. One night, smitten customer Michel (Joseph Bour) proposes marriage. This could be a way out of her unsustainable lifestyle—but is she suited to domesticity? Moreover, is she prepared to reunite with her four children, all from past relationships, including a 16-year-old daughter who grew up in foster care? Inspired by the sudden wedding of actress Litzenburger, mother to co-director Theis, the gritty slice-of-life Party Girl took home two awards at Cannes (including the Camera d’Or), where it was a standout in Un Certain Regard. Nominated for two César Awards including Best Debut Feature. U.S. Premiere

Portrait of the Artist / Le dos rouge
Antoine Barraud, France, 2014, DCP, 127m
French with English subtitles
Renowned director Bertrand Bonello (House of Pleasures and Saint Laurent, as well as the subject of a retrospective at the Film Society this May) stars as “Bertrand,” a filmmaker approaching his next project with a peculiar obsession—monstrosity. Convinced it should be the central theme of his film, he fixates on the notion of monstrous imagery, visiting museums and even hiring a mysterious art historian (played simultaneously by Jeanne Balibar and Géraldine Pailhas) to help him find the painting that best embodies the idea (considering works by Francis Bacon, Caravaggio, and others). But to his shock, the mania consuming his mind begins to manifest itself in his body as a monstrous red stain takes shape on his back. A disquieting yet fascinating (and funny!) mixture of body horror and character study, co-starring Barbet Schroeder as a physician and Joana Preiss as Bertrand’s wife Barbe. North American Premiere

SK1 / L’Affaire SK1
Frédéric Tellier, France, 2014, DCP, 120m
French with English subtitles
The multi-year hunt, arrest, and trial of serial killer Guy Georges is the subject of director Frédéric Tellier’s suspenseful feature debut, based on Patricia Tourancheau’s harrowing work of nonfiction, Guy Georges: La Traque. Sentenced to life imprisonment in 2001 for the murder of seven women, Georges (Adama Niane) was described by psychiatrists as “a narcissistic psychopath” and nicknamed The Beast of the Bastille. With great sophistication, Tellier renders the police’s dogged (though often clumsy) pursuit of Georges in all of its shocking twists and menacing turns. Featuring frequent Dardennes collaborator Olivier Gourmet, Christa Théret (star of Rendez-Vous 2013’s Renoir), Raphaël Personnaz (star of Rendez-Vous 2014’s The French Minister), and four-time César winner Nathalie Baye. U.S. Premiere

Stubborn / Une histoire américaine
Armel Hostiou, France, 2015, DCP, 85m
French and English with English subtitles
Experimental filmmaker and video artist Armel Hostiou expands his 2013 short Kingston Avenue into his second feature film (after 2011’s Day), a story about the steps we’ll take and the lies we tell ourselves in the name of love. Artist Barbara (Kate Moran) tires of her (very) brief relationship with Vincent (Vincent Macaigne) and leaves him behind in Paris. But the resolute Vincent follows her to America, determined to win back her affections. Shot in New York in wintertime and featuring daytime soap veteran and star of HBO’s Looking Murray Bartlett as Barbara’s new love interest, Stubborn, like its hero, is unabashedly romantic, utterly captivating, and often uncomfortably hilarious. North American Premiere

Wild Life / Vie sauvage
Cédric Kahn, Belgium/France, 2014, DCP, 102m
French with English subtitles
Carole and Philippe (Céline Sallette and Mathieu Kassovitz), tired of propriety and consumerism, opt to renounce civilization and live off the land. Calling themselves Nora and Paco, they lead a nomadic life in their caravan, gradually adding children to the mix. But when Nora tires of their itinerant lifestyle and gains custody of their sons, Philippe refuses to allow his progeny to be raised according to the societal codes he abhors. What follows is the riveting true story (based on the case of Xavier Fortin) of a father’s reckless but all-consuming love, directed by Cédric Kahn, whose underrated thriller Red Lights also portrayed a husband driven to extremes. Kassovitz gives the performance of his career while Sallette is extraordinary as the desperate mother fighting to reunite with her sons. The film received a special jury prize at the San Sebastian International Film Festival. North American Premiere

Young Tiger / Bébé tigre
Cyprien Vial, France, 2014, DCP, 87m
French with English subtitles
Young Tiger marks the inaugural feature of Cyprien Vial, having written and directed four short subjects (including Cannes prizewinner In Range). Here he relates the experiences of eager and touching Punjabi teenager Many (Harmandeep Palminder), in France to pursue his education, torn between his desire to establish a life in his new country and the pressure to send money back home. Skipping school and forced to take illegal and dangerous jobs that pay him under the table, he finds himself on a slippery slope into criminal activity, while deceiving his girlfriend, Elisabeth (Elisabeth Lando), and his foster family. Basing his film on first- and secondhand experiences, Vial tells a story both particular to the Indian diaspora and universal to the plight of immigrants being pulled in all directions.

Shorts Program
Brevity is the soul of wit, and our four acclaimed shorts, all directed by talented and up-and-coming female directors, have wit and soul in abundance. Whether testing grounds for tomorrow’s feature filmmakers or stylistic departures for today’s top directors, our richly textured shorts prove that depth is in no way tied to duration.

The Smallest Apartment in Paris / Le Plus petit appartement de Paris
Hélèna Villovitch, France, 2014, DCP, 15m
French with English subtitles
Carla and François are forced to share a 16 square meter studio in this whimsical sketch addressing the housing crisis that all urban dwellers are sure to identify with. North American Premiere

Back Alley / Le Contre-allée
Cécile Ducrocq, France, 2014, DCP, 29m
French with English subtitles
A streetwalker since the age of 15, Suzanne finds her livelihood threatened by the arrival of African prostitutes on her turf in this heartbreaking winner of the Small Golden Rail prize at Cannes.

The Space / Espace
Eléonor Gilbert, France, 2014, DCP, 14m
French with English subtitles
A young girl wants to play soccer at recess but schoolyard sexism prevents it. So, with pencil and paper, she charts her grievances, urging her peers to take back the playground. U.S. Premiere

Alice Douard, France, 2013, DCP, 35m
French with English subtitles
When student Raphaëlle, subject to cardiac contractions, meets enigmatic teacher Adèle, it’s not just her condition that makes her heart skip a beat.

Founded in 1949, Unifrance Films is a government-sponsored association of French film industry professionals dedicated to the international promotion of French films. With offices in Paris, New York, Tokyo, Mumbai, and Beijing, Unifrance Films provides financial and logistical support to theatrical distributors and major film festivals showcasing new and recent French cinema throughout the world and a French film festival online. For more information, visit

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