Frantz
Frantz

The 22nd Rendez-Vous with French Cinema taking place March 1 to 12, 2017, in New York City, will feature 23 diverse films showcasing the variety and vitality of contemporary French filmmaking.

The lineup is comprised of highlights from international festivals and works by both established favorites and talented newcomers, including François Ozon’s Lubitsch adaptation Frantz, set after World War I; Bertrand Bonello’s Nocturama, a provocative exploration of a Paris terrorist attack carried out by young activists; Bruno Dumont’s oddball slapstick detective story Slack Bay, starring Juliette Binoche; Rebecca Zlotowski’s visually arresting Planetarium, with Natalie Portman as a touring psychic who catches the eye of a movie producer in 1930s Paris; Jean-Stéphane Bron’s The Paris Opera, a documentary that peeks behind the scenes of the famed institution; and, for the first time, a Film Comment magazine presentation within Rendez-Vous with French Cinema: Julia Ducournau’s cannibal thriller Raw, which titillated audiences at Toronto and Cannes.

As previously announced, the Opening Night selection is the North American premiere of Étienne Comar’s Django, starring Reda Kateb as the legendary jazz musician and Cécile de France, and the Closing Night selection is the U.S. premiere of Jérôme Salle’s The Odyssey, with Lambert Wilson as explorer Jacques Cousteau and co-starring Audrey Tautou and Pierre Niney.

Selections in this year’s edition of Rendez-Vous with French Cinema garnered an impressive 47 combined nominations for this year’s César Awards, which were announced last week. Best Film nominees include Frantz (eleven nominations), Slack Bay (nine nominations), Nicole Garcia’s Marion Cotillard showcase From the Land of the Moon (eight nominations), and Justine Triet’s offbeat rom-com In Bed with Victoria (five nominations). In addition, Emmanuelle Bercot’s gripping real-life drama 150 Milligrams, with Sidse Babett Knudsen as a doctor who challenged the French pharmaceutical industry, received nominations for adapted screenplay and Best Actress; up-and-coming filmmaker Stephanie de Giusto was nominated for Best First Film for The Dancer, which stars Soko as modern dance icon Loïe Fuller and Lily-Rose Depp as Isadora Duncan (both nominated); and additional nominations went to Sébastien Marnier’s Faultless, Katell Quillévéré’s Heal the Living, Sólveig Anspach’s The Together Project, and Salle’s The Odyssey.

Co-presented by the Film Society of Lincoln Center and UniFrance, Rendez-Vous with French Cinema demonstrates annually that the landscape of French cinema is as fertile, inspiring, and distinct as ever. All films are screened digitally at the Walter Reade Theater (165 W. 65th St.).

FILMS & DESCRIPTIONS
All films are screened digitally at the Walter Reade Theater (165 W. 65th St.) unless otherwise noted

MAIN SLATE

Opening Night:
Django
Étienne Comar, France, 2017, 115m
French with English subtitles
The world of legendary Romani jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt is brought to vivid life in this riveting saga of survival, resistance, and artistic courage. Reinhardt (Reda Kateb) is the toast of 1943 Paris, thrilling audiences with his distinctive brand of “hot jazz” and charming his admirers (including an intrepid friend and muse played by Cécile de France). But even as the rise of Nazism and anti-Romani sentiment force Reinhardt—whose music is considered degenerate under the Third Reich—to make a daring escape from the city, he refuses to be silenced, his music becoming his form of protest. The feature debut from acclaimed screenwriter Étienne Comar (Of Gods and Men) immerses viewers in a tumultuous chapter in the life of one of the 20th century’s greatest musical geniuses. North American Premiere

Closing Night:
The Odyssey / L’odyssée
Jérôme Salle, France, 2016, 122m
French with English subtitles
Lambert Wilson is magnetic in this grandly lyrical dramatization of legendary explorer-turned-filmmaker Jacques Cousteau. Spanning half a century and criss-crossing oceans, the film charts Cousteau’s professional triumphs and personal failures as he achieves renown for the underwater documentaries he produced on his oceanographic expeditions, amid the constant struggle to secure financial backing for increasingly ambitious scientific (and cinematic) objectives. Set against the backdrop of cross-generational family drama—centered on his long-suffering wife Simone (Audrey Tautou) and his talented, deeply conflicted son Philippe (Pierre Niney)—The Odyssey is an epic ode to scientific exploration and documentary filmmaking, and a celebration of the human drive to seek out new realms of discovery. U.S. Premiere

150 Milligrams / La fille de Brest
Emmanuelle Bercot, France, 2016, 128m
French with English subtitles
A fearless everywoman stands up to a drug company in this gripping David vs. Goliath story, based on a real-life medical scandal. Irène Frachon (Sidse Babett Knudsen) is a pulmonologist at a hospital in Brest who begins digging into the connection between a widely prescribed diabetes drug and a spate of fatal valve disorders, with help from a research scientist (Benoît Magimel). Soon enough, Irène sets off a media firestorm, making powerful enemies in the pharmaceutical industry who will stop at nothing to suppress her story. Knudsen and writer-director Emmanuelle Bercot have created a memorably eccentric heroine, at once a tireless crusader and compelling human. U.S. Premiere

The Dancer / La danseuse
Stéphanie Di Giusto, France/Belgium/Czech Republic, 2016, 108m
English and French with English subtitles
This visually sumptuous drama set amidst the opulence of La Belle Époque Paris charts the real-life saga of modern dance icon Loïe Fuller (Soko). Raised on the plains of the American Midwest, Fuller became the unlikely toast of turn-of-the-century France with her legendary performances, in which swirling swaths of silk fabric and dazzlingly colored lights created a kaleidoscopic spectacle of color and movement. Boasting lavish period detail, breathtaking dance sequences, and fiercely committed performances by Gaspard Ulliel, Mélanie Thierry, and Lily-Rose Depp as Fuller’s rival Isadora Duncan, The Dancer is an arresting chronicle of an artist’s struggle to realize her vision.

Daydreams / L’indomptée
Caroline Deruas, France, 2016, 98m
French and Italian with English subtitles
Past and present, fantasy and reality collide in the boldly original feature debut from Caroline Deruas. A group of young French artists converge at Rome’s sun-dappled Villa Medicis for a one-year residency. Among them are Camille (Clotilde Hesme), a writer whose marriage to a famous novelist (Tchéky Karyo) is disintegrating, and Axèle (Jenna Thiam), an erratic photographer haunted by spectral visions of the villa’s past. Deruas conjures a subtly surreal atmosphere through striking stylistic flourishes—iris shots, color effects, dream sequences—in this beguiling tale of creative struggle, romantic rivalry, and ghosts. U.S. Premiere

Faultless / Irréprochable
Sébastien Marnier, France, 2016, 103m
French with English subtitles
Out of money and options, 40-year-old Constance (Marina Foïs) abandons her life in Paris and returns to her suburban hometown in hopes of picking up where she left off. After she finds no real romance from her occasional lover (Benjamin Biolay), something finally snaps when she discovers that her old job as a real-estate agent has been given to a younger woman (Joséphine Japy). It soon becomes clear: Constance is dangerous, and will stop at nothing to get what she wants. Both a wild-ride thriller and a chilling character study, Faultless is driven by a riveting central performance: almost always onscreen, Foïs brings unexpected depth and poignant humanity to her portrayal of a coldly calculating sociopath.

Frantz
François Ozon, France/Germany, 2016, 113m
French and German with English subtitles
The new film from acclaimed director François Ozon is a sublime, heartrending saga of guilt, forgiveness, and forbidden love in post–World War I Europe. Based on Ernst Lubitsch’s 1932 antiwar drama Broken Lullaby, it charts the complex bond that forms between two strangers: Anna (Paula Beer), a young German woman grieving the loss of her fiancé, Frantz, in the war, and Adrien (Pierre Niney), a former French soldier. What plays out between them is a haunting investigation of postwar trauma and healing rendered in gorgeous black-and-white that occasionally gives way—gloriously—to psychologically charged bursts of color. A Music Box Films release.

From the Land of the Moon / Mal de pierres
Nicole Garcia, France/Belgium/Canada, 2016, 116m
French and Spanish with English subtitles
Marion Cotillard delivers a performance of searing emotional intensity in this psychologically charged, 1950s-set saga of amour fou. She stars as Gabrielle, a troubled young woman—sick in both body and mind—who is stuck in a loveless marriage. When she travels to Switzerland for a rest cure, she meets the handsome, terminally ill lieutenant André (Louis Garrel), beginning a decades-long romantic obsession that will shape the course of her life. Beautifully photographed in the sunny south of France and the snow-capped Swiss mountains, From the Land of the Moon is an exquisite showcase for one of the finest actresses working today. A Sundance Selects release.

Heal the Living / Réparer les vivants
Katell Quillévéré, France/Belgium, 2016, 103m
French with English subtitles
A medical drama of unusual depth and sensitivity, Heal the Living charts the disparate lives touched by a tragedy. Following a car accident, 17-year-old Simon (Gabin Verdet) is left brain-dead, setting into motion a chain of events that affects everyone from his family to the hospital staff to a mother of two (Anne Dorval) in need of a heart transplant. Director Katell Quillévéré weaves together the multistrand narrative with consummate grace, abetted by a remarkable ensemble cast (including Emmanuelle Seigner and Tahar Rahim), elegant camerawork, and a striking score by Alexandre Desplat. The result is an enormously affecting study of human interconnectedness that finds a silver lining of hope in a wrenching situation. A Cohen Media Group release.

In Bed With Victoria / Victoria
Justine Triet, France, 2016, 97m
English and French with English subtitles
Victoria (Virginie Efira) is a hotshot lawyer with a disastrous personal life. Between juggling a demanding job, raising two kids, and fending off an ex-husband who’s slandering her on the Internet, she can barely be bothered with the hit-or-miss (mostly miss) online hookups she sets up. Around the time Victoria agrees to help her old friend Vincent (Melvil Poupaud) with a decidedly bizarre legal matter, she runs into a charming former client Sam (Vincent Lacoste). Now that a shot at real romance comes along, will the perpetually harried Victoria even recognize it? This refreshingly offbeat (how else to describe a film that features a trial in which the star witness is a Dalmatian?) farce is propelled by Efira’s irresistible performance as a heroine who’s raw, real, and complicated in ways that transcend the rom-com formula.

In the Forest of Siberia / Dans les forêts de Sibérie
Safy Nebbou, France, 2016, 105m
English, French, and Russian with English subtitles
Based on the award-winning memoir by adventurer Sylvain Tesson, this tale of survival follows Teddy (Raphaël Personnaz), a young Frenchman who leaves everything behind to live in isolation in the icy Siberian taiga. But initial exhilaration soon gives way to the harsh reality of staying alive in a frozen wilderness miles from civilization with roaming bears, life-threatening blizzards, and no electricity. The film captures majestic footage of the unspoiled Siberian landscape, its bleak beauty underscored by jazz trumpeter Ibrahim Maalouf’s plaintive soundtrack.

Journey to Greenland / Le Voyage au Groënland
Sébastien Betbeder, France, 2016, 98m
English, Inuktitut, and French with English subtitles
Scruffy, thirtysomething best friends both named Thomas (Thomas Blanchard and Thomas Scimeca) leave behind their struggling acting careers in Paris for an extended sojourn in a remote, snowbound stretch of Greenland. One is there to reconnect with his off-the-grid father, the other for adventure. What ensues is a perceptive, warm-spirited study of cross-cultural misunderstanding and connection, as the two men learn to survive in a place without alcohol, indoor plumbing, or a reliable Internet connection. Director Sébastien Betbeder balances wry, unforced comedy with casual insight into human relationships: between friends, family members, and the strangers who touch your life. A Netflix release.

Mum’s Wrong / Maman a tort
Marc Fitoussi, France/Belgium, 2016, 110m
French with English subtitles
When idealistic 14-year-old Anouk (Jeanne Jestin) embarks on a weeklong internship at her mom’s insurance company, she gets a crash course in the less-than-rosy reality of the corporate world, discovering some unsavory truths about her own mother along the way. An emotionally complex look at parents, children, and the moral compromises we make, Mum’s Wrong adroitly blends workplace satire with a compassionate social-issue message, while its leads Jestin and Émilie Dequenne (Rosetta, Our Children) create a nuanced, wholly believable portrait of a mother-daughter relationship undergoing a crisis.

Nocturama
Bertrand Bonello, France/Germany/Belgium, 2016, 130m
French with English subtitles
The audacious new film from Bertrand Bonello (Saint Laurent) unfolds in two mesmerizing segments. The first is a precision-crafted thriller, following a multi-ethnic group of millennial radicals as they carry out a mass-scale terrorist attack on Paris. The second—in which the perpetrators hide out in the consumerist mecca of a luxury department store—is the director’s coup, raising provocative questions about everything that came before. Bonello stages his apocalyptic vision with stylishly roving camerawork, blasts of hip-hop, and a lip-synced performance to Shirley Bassey’s “My Way.” This is edgy, risk-taking filmmaking that is sure to ignite debate. A Netflix release.

The Paris Opera / L’Opèra de Paris
Jean-Stéphane Bron, France, 2017, 110m
French with English subtitles
This all-access documentary goes behind the scenes of the Paris Opera, following the array of personnel—management, performers, costumers, cleaning crew—who work to bring breathtaking spectacle to audiences night after night. Over the course of a season, director Jean-Stéphane Bron nimbly juggles a dizzying number of storylines, from labor disputes to procuring a live bull for Schoenberg’s Moses und Aron to a PR crisis involving the head of the company’s ballet. Sweeping in scope yet full of intimate human moments, The Paris Opera offers a candid look at everything that goes into operating one of the world’s foremost performing arts institutions. U.S. Premiere

Planetarium
Rebecca Zlotowski, France/Belgium, 2016, 105m
English and French with English subtitles
Natalie Portman lends her star power to this dreamy, visually ravishing tale of magic and movies set in a glamorous vision of 1930s Paris. She and her sister (Lily-Rose Depp) form a psychic duo, touring the stages of Europe performing séances. When they catch the eye of a movie producer (Emmanuel Salinger), he resolves to make them stars and to capture an act of spiritualism on film. Forgoing traditional narrative structure in favor of swooning atmosphere, director Rebecca Zlotowksi revels in the Art Deco architecture, sumptuous period couture, and doomed decadence of prewar Paris. A Swen Group release.

Film Comment Presents:
Raw / Grave
Julia Ducournau, France/Belgium, 2016, 99m
French with English subtitles
When incoming freshman—and lifelong vegetarian—Justine (Garance Marillier) joins her older sister (Ella Rumpf) at a strangely decrepit veterinary college, she seems poised to be the school’s new star pupil. But a hazing ritual in which she’s forced to eat raw meat awakens something primal in Justine: a newfound—and highly disturbing—taste for flesh. The feature debut from Julia Ducournau marks the arrival of a bold new directorial voice, blending blood-spattered body horror, pitch-black comedy, and one of the most dysfunctional sisterly relationships ever depicted on screen into a potent, emotionally resonant coming-of-age nightmare. A Focus Features release.

Right Here Right Now/ Tout de suite maintenant
Pascal Bonitzer, France/Belgium/Luxembourg, 2016, 98m
French with English subtitles
Workplace drama doesn’t get any messier than in this intriguingly knotty tale of corporate backbiting and buried secrets. Nora (Agathe Bonitzer) is a bright young professional whose new job at a financial firm turns out to be a trial by fire when she learns that her bosses (Lambert Wilson and Pascal Greggory) share a tumultuous history with her prickly mathematician father (Jean-Pierre Bacri). Meanwhile, an interoffice romance with a competitive colleague (Vincent Lacoste) leads to even more complications, leaving Nora to navigate a minefield of delicate relationships as she climbs the corporate ladder. Isabelle Huppert costars and delivers a typically multilayered performance as one of many sharply etched characters populating this complex moral tale.

Slack Bay / Ma Loute
Bruno Dumont, France/Germany, 2016, 122m
English and French with English subtitles
In a postcard-perfect seaside village in 1910, an eccentric (to put it mildly) leisure-class family whiles away the summer. But something troubling is afoot: what’s behind the string of tourists gone mysteriously missing? Former enfant terrible Bruno Dumont continues his surprising foray into farce—which began with 2014’s acclaimed Li’l Quinquin—with this surreal, oddball mix of slapstick and detective story. The director and his cast (which includes Fabrice Luchini, Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, and a very game Juliette Binoche) stretch each joke to its breaking point, resulting in a winking, weirdly captivating comedy that’s in on its own absurdity. A Kino Lorber release.

Sophie’s Misfortunes / Les malheurs de Sophie
Christophe Honoré, France, 2016, 106m
French with English subtitles
Based on the French children’s classic by the Countess of Ségur, the latest from Christophe Honoré is an enchanting fable for adults and kids alike, set in a light-filled 19th-century chateau. The film captures the imaginative freedom of childhood through the eyes of the irrepressible Sophie (Caroline Grant), a mischievous young girl whose life changes drastically after she’s left in the care of a severe stepmother (Muriel Robin)—a far cry from the life she had with her loving mother (Golshifteh Farahani). With the help of her two friends and their mother (Anaïs Demoustier), Sophie works to escape her stepmother’s wicked grasp. Throughout, Honoré combines gorgeous period detail with playful modern touches: a bouncy electronic score by Alex Beaupain, expressive handheld camerawork, and a menagerie of animated animals. U.S. Premiere

The Stopover / Voir du pays
Delphine & Muriel Coulin, France/Greece, 2016, 102m
French and Greek with English subtitles
On their way home from Afghanistan, a band of French soldiers stop in Cyprus for decompression: three-days at a sun-splashed resort, where they will undergo intense psychological debriefing. There, amidst the crystal-blue waters and hordes of vacationing tourists, Marine (Soko) and Aurore (Ariane Labed)—two of only three women in their male-dominated unit—confront rage, trauma, and army sexism as they struggle to readjust to “normal” life. This riveting drama—winner of the Best Screenplay award in the Un Certain Regard competition at Cannes—is an all-too-rare exploration of war’s psychological wounds on female soldiers. A First Run Features release.

Struggle for Life / La Loi de la jungle
Antonin Peretjatko, France, 2016, 99m
French with English subtitles
In this wild, joke-a-minute slapstick satire, a middle-aged intern (Vincent Macaigne) is sent from France to French Guiana to oversee the creation of a South American ski resort led by Galgaric (Mathieu Amalric). There, he meets a beautiful intern at the National Forestry Office named Tarzan (Vimala Pons) and what ensues is a surreal journey through the Amazon jungle, with absurdist bureaucratic disasters, an aphrodisiac mishap, and a cannibal encounter. Playing something like a Jerry Lewis gag-fest meets Survivor, Struggle for Life combines anarchic black comedy with a scathing critique of colonialism.

The Together Project / L’effet aquatique
Sólveig Anspach, France/Iceland, 2016, 83m
English, French, and Icelandic with English subtitles
The final film from the late French-Icelandic director Sólveig Anspach is an irresistibly offbeat aquatic comedy. When gawky construction worker Samir (Samir Guesmi) encounters prickly swim instructor Agathe (Florence Loiret Caille), he’s immediately smitten. But his unconventional plan to win her over—pretending he can’t swim in order to take lessons from her—proves more than a little problematic. Sweet without being cloying, quirky without being grating, this romantic charmer succeeds thanks to the interplay between the two leads and Anspach’s breezy sincerity.

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