Paul Sanchez Is Back! (Paul Sanchez est revenu!) directed by Patricia Mazuy
Paul Sanchez Is Back! (Paul Sanchez est revenu!) directed by Patricia Mazuy

Film at Lincoln Center will present Rebel Spirit: The Films of Patricia Mazuy, the first American retrospective of the versatile French filmmaker’s work, November 15–17.

Though little-known to American moviegoers, Patricia Mazuy has earned a reputation and a dedicated following among French audiences and international festival patrons for her bracing, singular directorial vision, developed over three decades across a small but distinguished filmography of narrative features, documentaries, and TV movies, after getting her start as an editor on the films of Agnès Varda. Many of her keen-eyed period dramas, wry examinations of modern workplace dynamics, and lean, brooding chamber pieces of familial angst have screened at Cannes, and her work has earned the admiration of Jacques Rivette. In addition to multiple collaborations with composer John Cale, who scored three of her features, Mazuy has drawn quietly virtuosic performances from the likes of Sandrine Bonnaire, Isabelle Huppert, and Laurent Lafitte, each contributing to a vividly textured portrait of French social life. On the occasion of her fifth feature, Paul Sanchez Is Back! (screened in this year’s Rendez-Vous with French Cinema), Film at Lincoln Center welcomes Mazuy in person for this first American showcase of her work.

Highlights of Rebel Spirit: The Films of Patricia Mazuy include the period drama The King’s Daughters, a starkly realized vision of 17th-century France starring Isabelle Huppert that marks Mazuy’s first collaboration with Cale; the 1970s-set television film Travolta and Me, following a teenage couple as they develop an awkward yet intense romance, preceded by a surprise short; Mazuy’s latest feature Paul Sanchez Is Back!, a gripping, imaginative caper starring Laurent Lafitte; Of Women and Horses, a riveting drama set in the world of competitive dressage starring Bruno Ganz and Marina Hands; and her debut feature, the intimate, vaguely sinister family fable Peaux de vaches, shot by legendary cinematographer Raoul Coutard.

FILMS & DESCRIPTIONS

All screenings take place at the Francesca Beale Theater (144 W 65th St) unless otherwise noted.

The King’s Daughters / Saint-Cyr
Patricia Mazuy, France/Germany/Belgium, 2000, 119m
French with English subtitles
Isabelle Huppert stars in Mazuy’s first period drama, which premiered at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival. Mazuy spins a rich social parable from the history of the Maison Royale de Saint Louis, a boarding school for young girls from impoverished noble families, founded by the second wife of Louis XIV. Huppert gives a deft yet intensely felt performance as Madame de Maintenon, who conceives of the school as a high-minded pet project, only to become increasingly entangled in troubling questions around its moral foundations and its social consequences. Mazuy’s vision of late 17th-century France is starkly realized, bringing dusky light and sumptuous textures into close contact with the grime and grit of the pre-industrial age, and featuring a bracing score by John Cale.

Of Women and Horses / Sport de filles
Patricia Mazuy, France/Germany, 2011, 35mm, 101m
English, French, and German with English subtitles
Boasting quietly virtuosic performances from Marina Hands and Bruno Ganz, this riveting drama set in the world of competitive dressage illuminates the fraught intersection of gender and class. Angered by an employer’s broken promise, rider and groom Gracieuse (Hands) seeks out a new life at another farm, working alongside Franz (Ganz), an elite trainer whose former glory as a riding champion attracts enough wealthy patrons to keep the ranch in business. Beautifully shot by Caroline Champetier and scored by John Cale, the film is a strong showcase for Mazuy’s sure-handed versatility and Hands’s talent, offering a potent study of a woman driven by fierce private ambition and an enduring passion for her work

Paul Sanchez Is Back! / Paul Sanchez est revenu!
Patricia Mazuy, France/Belgium, 2018, 110m
French with English subtitles
The police are reticent to believe that the notorious murderer Paul Sanchez is indeed back ten years after he vanished without a trace. Yet adventure-hungry junior-officer Marion (César-winner Zita Hanrot, Fatima) can’t help obsessing over bread crumbs of hearsay, especially once a local reporter (Idir Chender, Occidental) begins receiving mysterious emails supposedly sent by Sanchez himself. Co-starring Elle’s Laurent Lafitte, the long-awaited fifth feature from Patricia Mazuy spins a gripping caper with ample commentary on sensationalistic media narratives that’s also an adrenaline rush of the imagination propelled by a percussive original score from John Cale. A 2019 Rendez-Vous with French Cinema selection.

Peaux de vaches / Thick Skinned
Patricia Mazuy, France, 1989, 35mm, 90m
French with English subtitles
Patricia Mazuy’s debut feature announced the singular force of her vision with an intimate, uncanny family fable. Ten years after Gerard (Jacques Spiesser) and his brother Roland (Jean-François Stévenin) set fire to their barn in rural France and unwittingly killed a man, Roland has finished serving a prison sentence for the accident and returns to the farm where Gerard lives with his wife (Sandrine Bonnaire) and their young daughter. What ensues is a chamber drama that simmers and roils with vaguely sinister angst, shot with lucid intensity by legendary cinematographer Raoul Coutard, and awarded the Prix George Sadoul at the 1989 Cannes Film Festival.

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