Programmer - Entrevues Belfort - Creteil Women Films Festival
|Meshes of the Afternoon
|Maya Deren, Alexander Hackenschmied
|The Sorrow and the Pity
|La MAISON DES BOIS
|La Maman et la Putain
|Travolta et moi
|Trouble Every Day
|West of the Tracks
Meshes of the Afternoon
A mesmerising film, that explores a woman's fears into a dreamlike/loop structure. Unforgettable images, with the beautiful Maya Deren playing a multiple character. This film has been in my mind ever since I discovered it, and it still surprises me when I re-watch it. It's even more admirable as it is a 14-minute-long film: proof that short films should never be misconsidered. I believe Meshes of the Afternoon has been an inspirational film to many directors, and I can't help but see here the origins of Lost Highway by David Lynch.
Choosing one film from Ozu is quite a challenge. His body of work is so coherent and strong that every film is like a variation on the main theme, that is to say: time passing, family's troubles, modernisation of Japan… His whole life, he's been filming such an amazing gallery of women's portraits, and always been so kind to his characters. Watching Ozu's films, you tend to feel as connected to his beautiful philosophy of life as to his amazing directing skills. Among them, Tokyo Story is a reconciliation film between generations. It's so comforting, it feels like a reminder that pain and lost are part of the journey. Spending time with Ozu's characters and visions is probably one of the things I'm most grateful to cinema for.
The Sorrow and the Pity
A gigantic documentary about the Second World War from the French side shot at the end of the 60s. A film that questions, in an unforgetting way, the survivors, their actions or inactions during the war at the precise moment when the official National storytelling was about to erase any of the dark corners. With his talent for conducting interviews and having people speak without any filters, Marcel Ophuls is depicting a part of France - Clermont Ferrand and its region - and more largely the whole country, in their relation to the Nazi times. And that's as terrifying as it is enlightening. And as time goes, it gets more and more important to watch this film.
I could have chosen his later film, Hotel Terminus, a portrait of Klaus Barbie - another masterpiece. This is an amazing work on and set in the after war, showing all the faces of the French population - even the more ugly and guilty - and the complexity of war times. It's also a vital work about forgiveness and how history keeps being re-written. Watching this film is a true life changer.
La MAISON DES BOIS
Maurice Pialat's filmography is one of the most fascinating in French cinema history. He hasn't made two films alike, but I wanted to highlight the only TV series he ever directed, La Maison des bois. Just after his first feature film, he directed La Maison des bois in 7 episodes. It tells the story of a family living in the countryside, who hosts kids from Paris, sent there by their parents during the First World War, to be protected from bombings. The series manages to tell the story of the war while filming the grace of the playful kids and keeping the joys of nature at its centre. Without any famous actors, and mostly kids, Pialat depicts the fragility of life and the heartbreaking beauty of the simple things.
La Maman et la Putain
One of the most fascinating films in the French cinema history. 3h40min long, a black and white with the blackest blacks you'll ever see, the still so amazing dialogues and monologues written by Jean Eustache, lining towards pure poetry.... Jean-Pierre Leaud, playing what he does best, aka the director's double, walking in the streets of Paris in the 70's, dating girls in the bars of the Quartier Latin, seducing and getting his heart broken... With his trio of wonderful actors, with Bernadette Lafont and Françoise Lebrun, Jean Eustache builds a narration that is strongly set in the present of its time, but as well infused by poetry, artistic references, humour and melancholy. It can also clearly be seen as a vampire movie. It got recently restored and re-released, and it was quite an emotional moment to re-discover it on the big screen. Pure magic. Forever.
This film became quite an obsession for me. Of course, at its core, there is Isabelle Adjani's part, and this unforgettable scene in the subway where she gets possessed, and proves that one needs so special effects, CGI or sound effets to scare the audience to death. As a professional in troubled love stories, Zulawski found here the weirdest, strongest and most fascinating plot. Set in a divided Berlin, just by the wall, the gloomy feeling of a decaying world seems to be contaminating the characters, this sick couple played by Sam Neill and Adjani. The most amazing thing here is that the horrific part of the film feels like the most rational part.
Travolta et moi
This is a film produced by Arte TV, but Travolta et moi is definitely my favourite teenage movie of all times, and a precious secret in the French cinema history. Patricia Mazuy draws the portrait of a wild teenage girl of a small town, who falls in love with a dark and secretive long hair guy who planned to seduce her. As he invites her to an ice rink party, she has to disobey her parents, who wanted her to keep their bakery open for one day. But, as it goes in a teenage brain, every minute she has to wait becomes a pain, and everything this girl with her untamed energy decides to do will have terrible, dark consequences. Propelled by an amazing soundtrack, filled with 70s rock music, the film balances between the strong materiality of the places and settings, and the purely abstract forces that drive the story.
Trouble Every Day
Claire Denis is one of the most impressive directors in recent French cinema history, and Trouble Every Day is clearly her weirdest film. With the spectacular Beatrice Dalle playing a wild cannibal/vampire hardly kept by her lover, and the always disturbing Vincent Gallo as a man suffering a strange disease and trying to find a cure while on honeymoon in Paris, the film plays with different genres and takes the spectator in a very unsafe and unsettling place. While filming the hotel life and its workers with a very accurate eye, Denis mixes scientific approach to the tameless and wild energy of Dalle's character. The great beauty of the film sits in the way it is as savage as purely romantic. A definite masterpiece of an unknown genre.
West of the Tracks
The introducing piece of a masterful filmography, Tie Xi Qu: West of the Tracks is an amazing 550 minute-long journey in a decaying industrial site of the north of China. It takes a real master to take this time, follow the workers carefully, become part of the place and make a film which time and structure reassembles the place itself: gigantic. It is also the film that revealed the talent of documentarist Wang Bing, who's now been spending many years depicting the terrifying methods and everyday life under communism. With patience, a total dedication to his work, and taking a lot of risks, Wang Bing is an amazing director, always at the right place, with a kind and dedicated eye. Tie Xi Qu: West of the Tracks manages to take you on board, and it is so fascinating that its images will haunt you.
In recent years, not many films impressed me so much as Bangkok Nites by Katsuya Tomita. The ambition of the story, exploring the post-colonialism between Japan, Laos and Thailand, going from the brothels of Bangkok to the Thai countryside, reminds me somehow of Michael Cimino's wide narrations. With his main characters, a young prostitute and her Japanese client, Tomita gives a lot of grace to a story that explores so many ideas, with total freedom from any conventions. Between the present and the past, two countries, the city and the countryside, reality and fantasies, the film moves smoothly and elegantly. The beauty of these images is fascinating, the extent of the narration is thrilling. A great achievement.