Vincent Lindon, Juliette Binoche in Fire by Claire Denis
Vincent Lindon, Juliette Binoche in Fire by Claire Denis

Unifrance and Film at Lincoln Center announced the complete lineup for the 27th edition of Rendez-Vous with French Cinema, the celebrated annual festival that exemplifies the variety and vitality of contemporary French filmmaking, taking place March 3–13 in the Walter Reade Theater in New York City.

The 2022 Opening Night selection is Claire Denis’ Fire, featuring screen legend Juliette Binoche as Sara, navigating the reemergence of her ex-lover François (Grégoire Colin), who coincidentally contacts her partner Jean (Vincent Lindon) for a business proposition. The melancholic drama showcases Denis’s characteristic knack for capturing the intimate sensuality of everyday life, bolstered by a gorgeous score from regular collaborators Tindersticks.

Highlights of the 23-film lineup include Authentik, Audrey Estrougo’s crowd-pleasing and galvanizing biopic of rap duo Suprême NTM, offering a dynamic reconstruction of a moment in hip-hop’s global explosion; Emmanuel Carrère’s Between Two Worlds, taking inspiration from investigative journalist Florence Aubenas’s 2010 best-selling nonfiction book The Night Cleaner and a longtime passion project for star Juliette Binoche; Deception, master filmmaker Arnaud Desplechin’s adaptation of Philip Roth’s classic novel encompassing a fusion of rigorous intellectual discourse and fervid emotionality; Rendez-Vous regular Christophe Honoré’s Guermantes, cunningly shot and wonderfully imagined by Honoré’s theatrical community despite the production’s debilitating COVID delays; Hold Me Tight, Mathieu’s Amalric’s daringly fluid portrait of one woman’s fractured psyche; Antoine Barraud’s third narrative feature Madeleine Collins, equal parts drama and thriller, starring Virginie Efira (Paul Verhoeven’s Benedetta); Our Men, starring director and Rendez-Vous regular Louis Garrel and directed by Rachel Lang, drawing upon her own background as an officer in the French army reserves; Paris, 13th District, Palme d’Or–winner Jacques Audiard’s exploration of casual sex, webcams, and relationships in an unsparing but nonjudgmental portrait of young Parisians; and much more.

This year’s lineup also features a number of highly anticipated debut features, including Charline Bourgeois-Tacquet’s Anaïs in Love, which premiered in the Critics’ Week section at last year’s Cannes; Vincent Le Port’s Bruno Reidal, Confessions of a Murderer, a cold and unnervingly charged portrait of a sexually driven killer; Emilie Carpentier’s The Horizon, following disaffected teenagers discovering a sense of purpose in political engagement; Magnetic Beats; Vincent Maël Cardona’s heady, emotionally rich reconstruction of an intense moment of social and cultural change and a Directors’ Fortnight selection at last year’s Cannes; and Constance Meyer’s Robust, featuring Gérard Depardieu and a premise reminiscent of the unlikely friendship in 2012’s Rendez-Vous selection The Intouchables, but with a drier sense of humor that’s all its own.

Confirmed to appear in person at the festival are: Mathieu Amalric, Jacques Audiard, Antoine Barraud, Philippe Béziat, Juliette Binoche, Charline Bourgeois-Tacquet, Leyla Bouzid, Vincent Maël Cardona, Emilie Carpentier, Emmanuel Carrère, Claire Denis, Arnaud Desplechin, Eric Dumont, Déborah Lukumuena, Aurélia Georges, Axelle Ropert, with more to follow.

Free talks include a sit-down with filmmakers Claire Denis and official Guest of Honor at this year’s Rendez-Vous Jim Jarmusch, in an extended conversation about their decades-spanning careers; Juliette Binoche and Déborah Lukumuena, meeting to discuss their professional trajectories and creative influences; and “Working the image : a French-American look at cinematography,” a special panel organized in partnership with French In Motion and the Gotham Film & Media Institute and bringing together French and American filmmakers and cinematographers to discuss their varied inspirations, creative philosophies, and artistic practices.

All films screen in the Walter Reade Theater (165 W. 65th St.) unless otherwise noted

Opening Night
Fire / Avec amour et acharnement
Claire Denis, 2021, France, 116m
French with English subtitles
The legendary Claire Denis delivers an understated yet psychologically vivid romantic drama, co-written with her Let the Sunshine In collaborator Christine Angot. On her way to work one day, Sara (Juliette Binoche) spies her ex-lover François (Grégoire Colin) outside of the metro; shortly thereafter, by a seeming coincidence, François gets in touch with Jean (Vincent Lindon), his old friend—and Sara’s partner—to propose they go into business together on a new venture. François’s unexpected reemergence in their lives, and the emotional destabilization that comes with it, propel this finely wrought and melancholic narrative, with Denis’s characteristic knack for capturing the intimate sensuality of everyday life on full display, bolstered by a typically gorgeous score from regular collaborators Tindersticks. An IFC Films release.

Anaïs in Love / Les Amours d’Anaïs
Charline Bourgeois-Tacquet, 2021, France, 98m
English and French with English subtitles
Behind on her rent, contemplating breaking up with her boyfriend, and struggling to complete her thesis, thirtysomething Anaïs (Anaïs Demoustier) is in a manic search for stability. An affair with middle-aged publisher Daniel (Denis Podalydès, also in this year’s Rendez-Vous selection Deception) seems like a dead end until Anaïs discovers the literary work of his formidable partner Emilie (Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi). Writer-director Charline Bourgeois-Tacquet’s effervescent feature debut (which premiered in the Critics’ Week section at last year’s Cannes) draws in part upon her background in publishing to ground a tale of self-discovery as literate and delightful as it is unexpected, keeping both Anaïs and viewers off-balance until the very final, cliché-shattering final shot. A Magnolia Pictures release.

Authentik / Suprêmes
Audrey Estrougo, 2021, France, 112m
French with English subtitles
Doing for French rap duo Suprême NTM what Straight Outta Compton did for N.W.A., Audrey Estrougo’s crowd-pleasing and galvanizing biopic kicks off in 1989. A collaboration that begins on a whim between two friends takes off after an electrifying debut performance unexpectedly thrusts JoeyStarr (Théo Christine) and Kool Shen (Sandor Funtek) into the spotlight. The pair court controversy as their music increasingly speaks to their marginalized community’s struggles, building to a head when their single “Police” attracts official outrage. A dynamic reconstruction of a moment in hip-hop’s global explosion, Estrougo takes viewers back to a key moment in French society when long-dismissed voices started, quite literally, to be heard in a new way.

Between Two Worlds / Le Quai de Ouistreham
Emmanuel Carrère, 2021, France, 106m
French with English subtitles
Famed journalist Marianne Winckler (Juliette Binoche) goes undercover to investigate the exploitation of cleaning people in the north of France, eventually landing a job on a ferry. As she learns more about the plight of these workers on the margins, Marianne grows closer to her new comrades—while simultaneously beginning to harbor concerns that she’ll be complicit in their exploitation when she returns to Paris and writes a book about her experiences. A longtime passion project for star Binoche, Between Two Worlds takes inspiration from investigative journalist Florence Aubenas’s 2010 best-selling nonfiction book The Night Cleaner; the writer would only agree to let it be adapted by the great French novelist Emmanuel Carrère, who co-wrote and directed this feature—his first since 2005’s acclaimed La Moustache. A Cohen Media Group release.

Bruno Reidal, Confessions of a Murderer / Bruno Reidal
Vincent Le Port, 2021, France, 101m
French with English subtitles
1905: When Bruno Reidal (Dimitri Doré), a young seminary student, confesses to the brutal murder of a 13-year-old, three doctors are tasked with determining whether or not he’s insane. At a moment when the separation of church and state has just been legally codified in France, determining the motivations of a future member of the Catholic Church proves especially tricky. Under the supervision of Dr. Alexandre Lacassagne (Jean-Luc Vincent), Bruno is tasked with writing his memoirs to help the committee make their decision. Working from the real Reidal’s lucid, extraordinarily detached, and analytical volume, Vincent Le Port’s feature debut is a chilly, unnerving, and existentially charged portrait of a sexually driven killer within a religious milieu.

Deception / Tromperie
Arnaud Desplechin, 2021, France, 105m
French with English subtitles
“I’m a talk fetishist!” exclaims novelist Philip (Denis Podalydès) in one of the many conversations before, during, and after sex with his married (but not to him) partner (Léa Seydoux). Love, Israel, regret, and mortality are all in the heady conversational mix in the latest from master filmmaker Arnaud Desplechin (A Christmas Tale, My Golden Days). A longtime dream project for the co-writer and director, Deception is a faithful adaptation of Philip Roth’s novel of the same name, whose fusion of rigorous intellectual discourse and explosive emotionality is a perfect fit for Desplechin. The bold chorus of voices from lovers past, present, and possibly imaginary includes a deeply moving supporting turn from Emmanuelle Devos, the auteur’s frequent leading lady.

Everything Went Fine / Tout s’est bien passé
François Ozon, 2021, France, 113m
French and German with English subtitles
After a stroke leaves him paralyzed in one arm, 85-year-old André Bernheim (Rendez-Vous favorite André Dussolier) demands that his eldest daughter, Emmanuèle (Sophie Marceau), help him commit suicide. With the grudging support of her younger sister Pascale (Géraldine Pailhas), Emmanuèle begins sorting through the complicated processes and bureaucratic hurdles necessary to fulfill her father’s request. Based on an autobiographical novel by Emmanuèle Bernheim, the latest film from the ever-unpredictable, genre-hopping François Ozon is a dramatic change of pace from last year’s nostalgic and romantic Rendez-Vous selection Summer of 85. Unsentimental and often surprisingly funny, Everything Went Fine offers both a look at the logistics of approaching death on one’s own terms and a nuanced portrait of a complicated family, featuring the legendary Charlotte Rampling (Ozon’s Under the Sand star) as André’s estranged wife. A Cohen Media Group release.

Gallant Indies / Indes galantes
Philippe Béziat, 2020, France, 108m
English and French with English subtitles
In 2019, eight opera singers and 30 dancers from a wide variety of artistic and demographic backgrounds convened at Paris’s Opéra Bastille to begin work on an ambitious new production of Les Indes galantes. The baroque composition by Jean-Philippe Rameau is a cornerstone of French musical history, but its beautiful melodies come alongside a host of outdated conceptions of “exotic” locations and peoples. Philippe Béziat’s documentary captures the work of this multifaceted troupe under the direction of artist and filmmaker Clément Cogitore; together, they work to deliver Rameau’s opera into the 21st century and the everyday diversity of contemporary France, integrating questions of racism, classism, and colonialism into a radical new staging that both honors and transforms the original text. A Distrib Films US release.

Christophe Honoré, 2021, France, 139m
French with English subtitles
North American Premiere
When Rendez-Vous regular Christophe Honoré (Love Songs, On a Magical Night) began work on a stage adaptation of Proust in spring 2020, the COVID pandemic quickly shut it down. Rehearsals resumed that summer, but when performances were once again canceled until fall, Honoré decided to adapt by continuing to rehearse for the pure, communal joy of the theatrical experience—even if there would be no in-person audience to witness the performances that resulted. That’s the part-real, part-fictional premise of Honoré’s latest film, which—for the first time—places the writer-director front and center as a character in his own work. Despite the obstacles around them, Honoré and his theatrical community forge ahead, finding love, inspiration, and a healthy helping of casually nude conversations along the way.

Hold Me Tight / Serre moi fort
Mathieu Amalric, 2021, France, 97m
French and German with English subtitles
Vicky Krieps (Phantom Thread, Bergman Island) gives another riveting performance as Camille, a woman on the run from her family for reasons that aren’t immediately clear. Widely renowned as an actor but less well-known here for his equally impressive work behind the camera, Mathieu Amalric’s sixth feature directorial outing—his most ambitious to date—is a virtuosic, daringly fluid portrait of one woman’s fractured psyche. Alternating between Camille’s adventures on the road and her abandoned husband Marc (Arieh Worthalter) as he struggles to take care of their children at home, Amalric’s film keeps viewers uncertain as to the reality of what they’re seeing until the final moments of this richly rewarding, moving, and unpredictable portrait of grief.

The Horizon / L’Horizon
Emilie Carpentier, 2021, France, 85m
French with English subtitles
North American Premiere
As Emilie Carpentier’s debut feature The Horizon begins, 18-year-old Adja (Tracy Gotoas) is disconnected from her community—indifferent to climate change and mocking the efforts of activists to oppose construction of a new mixed-use facility. But when she grows closer to classmate Arthur (Sylvain Le Gall)—an earnest activist and fellow intern at a nursing home—Adja begins to find a sense of purpose in political engagement, drifting away from her shallow group of friends. At The Horizon’s center is an in-depth immersion in the routines, self-constructed communities, and urgent day-to-day efforts of an organically diverse coalition of young activists. Harnessing flawless performances from her young leads, Carpentier plunges viewers into the midst of a new generation of activists’ coming of age.

Lost Illusions / Illusions perdues
Xavier Giannoli, 2021, France, 149m
French with English subtitles
In 1821, Lucien de Rubempré (Benjamin Voisin) arrives in Paris as a sensitive and idealistic young poet determined to write a reputation-making novel. Instead, he finds himself swept into journalism, whose influence and reach is booming with the help of the printing press, widely available of late. Under the mentorship of editor Étienne Lousteau (Vincent Lacoste), Lucien agrees to write rave theater reviews for bribes, achieving material success at the expense of his conscience. With this sweeping, sumptuous adaptation of one of Honoré de Balzac’s greatest novels, Xavier Giannoli crafts a surprisingly contemporary tale of corruption amidst an early form of “fake news,” boasting an all-star cast that includes Gérard Depardieu and Jeanne Balibar. A Music Box Films release.

Madeleine Collins
Antoine Barraud, 2021, France/Belgium/Switzerland, 102m
French with English subtitles
Judith Fauvet (Virginie Efira, most recently acclaimed for her leading performance in Paul Verhoeven’s Benedetta) leads a double life with two families: raising a daughter with one partner in Switzerland, and another two sons in France with another. The mysterious reasons for Judith’s lies, and the complications that ensue from her increasingly futile efforts to keep the two lives separate, propel the third narrative feature from Antoine Barraud (Portrait of the Artist, Rendez-Vous 2015), anchored by a virtuoso turn from Efira in all of her character’s many guises. The question of what Judith wants is slowly unraveled in this gorgeously shot film that’s equal parts drama and thriller—unpredictable in its unfolding, full of unexpected twists, and unexpectedly satisfying in its resolution.

Magnetic Beats / Les Magnétiques
Vincent Maël Cardona, 2021, France/Germany, 98m
English, German, and French with English subtitles
Brittany, early 1980s: With political and cultural transition in the air, little brother Philippe (Thimotée Robart) stands in awe of moody, indulgent, but charismatic older sibling Jérôme (Joseph Olivennes). The two are passionate about operating a post-punk pirate station named (in homage to Joy Division) Radio Warsaw. Jérôme is the silver-tongued but mercurial on-air DJ, Philippe the shy technical support with a talent for sonic collage. Both fall for single mother Marianne (Marie Colomb), just before Philippe has to begin his compulsory year of military service abroad in Berlin. Vincent Maël Cardona’s feature-film debut (which premiered in Directors’ Fortnight at last year’s Cannes) is a heady, emotionally rich reconstruction of an intense moment of social and cultural change, complete with an excellent soundtrack.

Our Men / Mon légionnaire
Rachel Lang, 2021, Belgium/France, 106m
French, Russian, and English with English subtitles
U.S. Premiere
In a dramatic change of pace from his usual urbane parts, Louis Garrel (a regular presence in Rendez-Vous selections and a talented director in his own right) stars as Maxime, a stoic commander in the French Foreign Legion. Stationed at an outpost in Corsica, Maxime is placed in charge of a dangerous and sensitive mission to Mali. Under his command is Ukrainian soldier Vlad (Aleksandr Kuznetsov), whose fiancée Nika (Ina Marija Bartaité) babysits for Maxime’s wife (Camille Cottin). Deftly juggling the perspectives of officers, the men they command, and the partners of both, Our Men is an impressively assured and unsensational drama about an oft-misunderstood organization, given palpable realism by writer-director Rachel Lang, who draws upon her own background as an officer in the French army reserves.

Paris, 13th District / Les Olympiades, Paris 13e
Jacques Audiard, 2021, 105m
French, Mandarin, and English with English subtitles
Transplanting the work of graphic novelist Adrian Tomine from the U.S. to France, Palme d’Or–winner Jacques Audiard (Dheepan) dives into the mores of modern love in his latest film. A series of overlapping characters and stories begins with Émilie (Lucie Zhang), a young woman who hooks up with the first roommate she finds to supplement her income. Meanwhile, young Nora (Noémie Merlant) is mistaken for an online sex worker, Amber Sweet (Jehnny Beth, of the post-punk band Savages), and gets in touch with her, only to unexpectedly develop a connection. Casual sex, webcams, and fluidly intertwining relationships are all explored in this unsparing but nonjudgmental portrait of young Parisians in and out of love and lust. An IFC Films release.

Petite Solange
Axelle Ropert, 2021, France, 86m
French with English subtitles
North American Premiere
Jade Springer makes an extraordinary feature-film debut as Solange, a lively 13-year-old living in Nantes with her music-shop-owner father Antoine (Philippe Katerine) and actress mother Aurélia (Léa Drucker). When their marriage starts falling apart, the normally cheerful Solange is unprepared and emotionally destabilized. While her brother Romain (Grégoire Montana) takes advantage of an opportunity to avoid turmoil by going abroad, Solange feels increasingly alone and erratic in navigating this unexpected familial collapse. Deftly transitioning from comedy to drama, director Axelle Ropert (Miss and the Doctors, Rendez-Vous 2014) takes inspiration from The 400 Blows in a sensitive divorce drama that places children, rather than adults, at the center of attention.

Rise / En corps
Cédric Klapisch, 2022, France/Belgium, 117m
French and English with English subtitles
North American Premiere
Ballerina Elise (Marion Barbeau) suffers two injuries at the same time: a devastating fall on stage that leaves her injured and unable to dance for up to two years, and her partner suddenly and humiliatingly breaking up with her for another dancer. Initially devastated, Elise slowly rebuilds her life while redirecting her efforts to contemporary dance in the troupe of real-life Israeli choreographer Hofesh Shechter, playing himself. Opening with a lengthy performance sure to delight ballet aficionados, Rise places real-life ballerina Barbeau at the center of the latest crowd-pleaser from Cédric Klapisch (L’Auberge espagnole; Rendez-Vous 2020 selection Someone, Somewhere). In a star-making performance, Barbeau—a principal in the Paris Opera Ballet—proves every bit as talented an actress on screen as she is a dancer on stage.

Robust / Robuste
Constance Meyer, 2021, France/Belgium, 95m
French with English subtitles
Well past his prime, once-famed actor Georges (Gérard Depardieu) is struggling with health problems and a reputation for being difficult to work with. While preparing for his latest role, Georges is thrown for a loop when his assistant takes time off, leaving him temporarily dependent on help from replacement security guard (and amateur female wrestler) Aïssa (Déborah Lukumuena). The two develop an increasingly warm and supportive relationship in Constance Meyer’s assured feature debut, whose premise is reminiscent of the unlikely friendship in 2012’s Rendez-Vous selection The Intouchables, but with a drier sense of humor that’s all its own. Front and center is Depardieu, winking at his own image as an increasingly difficult and divisive legend in a part as hilarious as it is poignant.

Secret Name / La Place d’une autre
Aurélia Georges, 2021, France, 112m
French with English subtitles
While serving on the front lines of World War I, a former sex worker who’s now a nurse, Nélie Laborde (Lyna Khoudri, The French Dispatch), is given the unexpected chance to start a new life when one of her patients, Rose Juillet (Maud Wyler), is seemingly killed by invading German troops. Nélie assumes Rose’s identity and leaves the field of battle for the north of France, where the well-off Eléonore de Lengwil (Rendez-Vous favorite Sabine Azéma) lives. Rose was to be her ward, and—under her false identity—Nélie grows closer to Eléonore over their shared love of literature. Loosely adapted and updated from a Wilkie Collins novel, Aurélia Georges’s film (which premiered at last year’s Locarno Film Festival) brings the intensity of a thriller to a thoughtful drama about female identity.

A Tale of Love and Desire / Une histoire d’amour et de désir
Leyla Bouzid, 2021, France/Tunisia, 102m
French and Arabic with English subtitles
Two students from very different backgrounds, both enrolled at the Sorbonne, find themselves passionately attracted to each other in Tunisian-born writer-director Leyla Bouzid’s sophomore feature. Ahmed (Sami Outalbali) is a shy, socially conservative Arab of Algerian background, born and raised in Paris; Farah (Zbeida Belhajamor) is an outgoing, sexually confident young Tunisian immigrant. They meet on the way to the same bookstore to purchase ancient, sexually charged Arabic poetry, and their mutual study of these texts helps kindle a spark between the two that causes Ahmed to increasingly question his values. Bouzid’s sensual and sensitive drama is a cross-sectional portrait of the diverse varieties of Arab diaspora life unfolding in the heart of a very contemporary Paris. A Distrib Films US release

Touchez pas au grisbi
Jacques Becker, France/Italy, 1954, 94m
French with English subtitles
Aging hoods Max le Menteur (Jean Gabin) and Riton (René Dary) are sitting pretty after pulling off the heist of a lifetime—50 million francs in gold bullion snatched at Orly airport. For Max, this grisbi (loot) will ensure him a cushy retirement; for Riton, it will help him hold onto his two-faced girlfriend Josy (Jeanne Moreau, in one of her earliest film appearances), who, along with Max’s moll Lola, is appearing in a new floor show at the nightclub of their longtime underworld buddy, Pierrot (nicknamed “Fats”). But Max and Riton have another thing coming. Director Jacques Becker’s brilliantly crafted, surprisingly poignant crime drama features Gabin in a tremendous performance that helped relaunch his sagging career and won him the Best Actor award at the 1954 Venice Film Festival.

Undercover / Enquête sur un scandale d’État
Thierry de Peretti, 2021, France, 121m
French with English subtitles
U.S. Premiere
Based on the real-life scandal that led to the 2017 indictment of police chief François Thierry for drug smuggling, Undercover patiently untangles a complicated trafficking scheme that unfolded within the legal system itself. When informant Hubert Antoine (Roschdy Zem) makes his initial outreach to Libération journalist Stéphane Vilner (Pio Marmaï), he produces documentation that reveals narcotics chief Jacques Billard (Vincent Lindon, also in this year’s Opening Night selection Fire) to be a high-level trafficker. The dogged, sometimes thorny relationship between the two men over three years—and the consequences of their revelations—drive this methodical procedural in the tradition of All the President’s Men and Spotlight, shot by Claire Mathon (Portrait of a Lady on Fire) with classical restraint and elegance.

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