Revoir Paris
Revoir Paris directed by Alice Winocour

Alice Winocour’s Revoir Paris will open the 28th edition of Rendez-Vous with French Cinema, the annual festival of contemporary French filmmaking, taking place March 2–12 at Film at Lincoln Center in New York City.

Revoir Paris features Virginie Efira (Benedetta, NYFF59 Main Slate selection) as translator Mia, who survived a mass shooting in a Paris restaurant and is unable to resume life as usual. Determined to reestablish a sense of normalcy, Mia returns repeatedly to the site of the shooting, forming bonds with fellow survivors in the process.

Highlights of the 21-film lineup include Arnaud Desplechin’s Brother and Sister, his newest drama starring Melvil Poupaud and Marion Cotillard as siblings Louis and Alice, who are forced to negotiate some kind of coexistence after their parents are involved in a near-deadly car crash; Rachid Hami’s For My Country, which follows the death of Aïssa (Shaïn Boumedine) after a hazing at a military academy, and the efforts of his older brother, Ismaël (Karim Leklou), to bury him and demand answers; Other People’s Children, where director Rebecca Zlotowski draws from her own life to depict the emotional trajectory of Rachel (Virginie Efira), a schoolteacher whose desire for a biological child seems increasingly unlikely to be fulfilled; The Innocent, the latest comedy from actor-writer-director Louis Garrel, which follows Abel (Garrel), a young man who finds himself in over his head while navigating a world of criminal mischief after his mother marries a reformed convict just before the man’s release from prison; Saturn Bowling, Patricia Mazuy’s tense drama, which transforms into a twisty neo-noir as police detective Guillaume (Arieh Worthalter) finds his relationship with his already estranged family further strained by a series of murders; Mother and Son, Léonor Serraille’s portrait of the complex, sometimes painful relationship between an African immigrant mother and her sons; Léa Mysius’s sophomore directorial effort, The Five Devils, starring Sally Dramé as Vicky, a young girl with a supernatural talent for reproducing the scent of anyone and anything she encounters; and The Night of the 12th, a stark thriller from Dominik Moll that delivers the genre hallmarks of true crime to excavate insidious strains of misogyny in contemporary French society.

This year’s festival highlights two highly anticipated debut features: writer-director Florent Gouëlou’s Three Nights a Week, which takes Baptiste (Pablo Pauly) into the world of drag performance and culture, leading him on a journey of self-discovery; and Lise Akoka and Romane Gueret’s The Worst Ones, which follows Belgian director Gabriel (Johan Heldenbergh) as he arrives in the small town of Boulogne-sur-Mer to cast non-professional teenagers for his debut feature, while some residents, concerned with improving their town’s image in the media, disapprove of his choices.

Confirmed to appear in person at the festival are Lise Akoka, Virginie Efira, Louis Garrel, Florent Gouëlou, Rachid Hami, Christophe Honoré, Cédric Ido, Matthias Jacquin, Sébastien Marnier, Patricia Mazuy, Dominik Moll, Léa Mysius, Nicolas Pariser, Melvil Poupaud, Léonor Serraille, Ramzi Ben Sliman, Alice Winocour, and Rebecca Zlotowski, with more to follow.

Free talks include a sit-down with filmmakers Alice Winocour and Opening Night Special Guest Sophie Barthes talking about Winocour’s vibrant body of work; a wide-ranging conversation with Virginie Efira in which we’ll discuss the evolution of Efira’s craft and her approach to portraying profoundly complicated, endlessly compelling women; a conversation with Louis Garrel, moderated by Owen Kline, discussing Garrel’s distinctive sensibility, his thematic and stylistic interests, and the ways in which his work is shaped by his process behind the camera; and Queer Identities on Screen, made possible in partnership with The Gotham Film & Media Institute and French in Motion, a special panel conversation featuring Christophe Honoré (Winter Boy), Florent Gouëlou (Three Nights a Week), and more to be announced.

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

Opening Night
Revoir Paris
Alice Winocour, 2022, France/Belgium, 105m
French with English subtitles
After surviving a mass shooting in a Paris restaurant, married translator Mia (Virginie Efira) is haunted, unable to resume life as usual and left with a total blackout where her memories of the traumatic incident should be. Determined to reconstruct the sequence of events and reestablish a sense of normalcy, Mia finds herself repeatedly returning to the bistro where the shooting happened. In the process she forms bonds with fellow survivors, including banker Thomas (Benoît Magimel) and teenager Félicia (Nastya Golubeva). Initially shocking and ultimately deeply moving, Revoir Paris, the latest from Rendez-Vous favorite Alice Winocour (Disorder, Proxima), is a meditation on grief and healing anchored by a career-best performance from Efira (Benedetta, NYFF59 selection). A Music Box Films release.

Brother and Sister / Frère et Sœur
Arnaud Desplechin, 2022, France, 108m
French with English subtitles
One of film’s great family creations, the sprawling, perpetually at-odds Vuillards have provided the memorable characters for some of Arnaud Desplechin’s most beloved films, including Kings and Queen (2004) and A Christmas Tale (2008). His newest entry in the family’s collective saga follows novelist Louis (Melvil Poupaud) and actress Alice (Marion Cotillard), siblings who experience a falling out when Louis depicts his sister unforgivably in one of his books. Years later, after their parents are involved in a near-deadly car crash, they’re forced to try to negotiate some kind of coexistence—or at least to find ways to avoid each other at the hospital bedside. Desplechin returns to some of his pet themes—the lines between art and real life, the work of theater performers, family ties that both bind and divide—in another deeply felt drama backed by a typically eclectic soundtrack.

Diary of a Fleeting Affair / Chronique d’une liaison passagère
Emmanuel Mouret, 2022, France, 100m
French with English subtitles
After happily married Simon (Vincent Macaigne) meets the equally happily single Charlotte (Sandrine Kiberlain, also in this year’s Rendez-Vous selection The Green Perfume), they agree to begin an affair devoid of heavy feelings—but love, inevitably and maybe impossibly, emerges over the course of meetups on the beautifully photographed streets of Paris and weekends in the countryside. This acutely observed comic drama from Emmanuel Mouret (Love Affair(s), Rendez-Vous 2021) is powered by the chemistry between magnetic veteran star Kiberlain and the hilariously anxious Macaigne (fresh from Olivier Assayas’s HBO update of his own Irma Vep). The soundtrack is a selection of classical music mingled with a smattering of Serge Gainsbourg staples, recalling and reviving the best of French romantic drama.

The Five Devils / Les Cinq diables
Léa Mysius, 2022, France, 96m
French with English subtitles
One of France’s most celebrated young screenwriters, whose recent collaborators include such luminaries as Jacques Audiard, Claire Denis, and Arnaud Desplechin, Léa Mysius established herself as a vibrant new directorial voice with her feature debut, Ava, a bold and daring highlight of Rendez-Vous 2018. Her sophomore feature, The Five Devils, is every bit as distinctive and stylistically audacious in telling the story of Vicky (Sally Dramé, a major discovery in her debut), who is gifted with the ability to reproduce the scent of anyone and anything she encounters. Vicky’s supernatural talent forms just one part of this wrenching family drama as mother Joanne (Adèle Exarchopoulos) struggles to maintain a rocky relationship with her husband (Moustapha Mbengue) after his enigmatic sister (Swala Emati) returns to town, against a turbulent backdrop of rural French racism and homophobia. Mysius crafts a spellbinding tale as unpredictable as it is enthralling. A MUBI release.

For My Country / Pour la France
Rachid Hami, 2022, France/Taiwan, 113m
English, French, Arabic, and Mandarin with English subtitles
After French-Algerian military recruit Aïssa (Shaïn Boumedine) dies while being hazed, older brother Ismaël (Karim Leklou) and his family converge upon the military academy to bury him and demand answers about how this tragedy occurred. Drawing upon his own family history, Rachid Hami (Orchestra Class, Rendez-Vous 2018) bravely fictionalizes the story of his brother’s death, elegantly flashing back from the present to an often contentious, globe-trotting sibling relationship during their adolescence in 1990s Algeria and time spent together in late-aughts Taipei. Integration, faith, and the sometimes difficult bonds of brotherhood are interrogated by Hami in this elegant and mournful film, which centers its finely drawn characters and their complex humanity over simple political messaging.

Forever Young / Les Amandiers
Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, 2022, France/Belgium, 126m
English and French with English subtitles
Before he was internationally known as a filmmaker of modern classics like Queen Margot and Intimacy, the late Patrice Chéreau was a director at the famed French theater school Les Amandiers. Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, a Rendez-Vous regular both as an actress and as a director, draws upon her own memories in this fond, often rowdy group portrait of a tight-knit class navigating their first year at the school. Under the tutelage of Chéreau (Louis Garrel, himself the accomplished director of Rendez-Vous 2023 selection The Innocent), the students grow both personally and professionally during the late 1980s, studying briefly at the Actors Studio in New York City before tackling a year-end production of Chekhov’s Platonov. Among them is Stella (Nadia Tereszkiewicz), whose love affair with a talented but unstable fellow student provides a through-line across Bruni Tedeschi’s chaotic and loving recollections.

The Gravity / La Gravité
Cédric Ido, 2022, France, 84m
French with English subtitles
As eight planets prepare to enter an auspicious alignment, drug dealer Christophe (Jean-Baptiste Anoumon) returns home to the housing projects after serving time in prison, only to find that the familiar milieu has changed in his absence. His friend Daniel (Max Gomis) has gone straight, pursuing a career as a professional runner, while Christophe’s brother, Joshua (Steve Tientcheu), now paralyzed from the waist down, has continued to sell narcotics. Shooting in his hometown of Seine-Saint-Denis, French-Burkinabe actor and writer-director Cédric Ido puts a sci-fi twist on this gritty, up-to-the-minute crime saga as the planetary configuration wreaks unexpected mental havoc on the towers’ residents. Equally evoking the aliens-versus-gangs thriller Attack the Block and Ladj Ly’s recent Palme d’Or winner Les Misérables, Ido adroitly uses genre to comment on race, class, and the struggles of the recently incarcerated to reintegrate into society.

The Green Perfume / Le Parfum vert
Nicolas Pariser, 2022, France, 102m
English, French, and German with English subtitles
When an actor dies onstage during a performance at the Comédie-Française, his final words to fellow actor Martin (Vincent Lacoste) are to say he’s been murdered, followed by the mysterious phrase “green perfume.” So begins this knowingly Hitchcockian thriller (with a touch of Tintin creator Hergé thrown into the stylistic mix). The enigmatic events spur Martin to set off on a pan-European journey to discover the forces behind this mysterious killing. He makes his way to Brussels and eventually to Budapest alongside comic book writer Claire (Sandrine Kiberlain). Arriving at unexpected thematic resonance by way of searching dialogues about the nature of European identity and the Jewish diaspora, writer-director Nicolas Pariser (Alice and the Mayor, Rendez-Vous 2020) crafts a humorous, finely tuned, thoroughly French evocation of the master of suspense’s lighter work.

Harkis / Les Harkis
Philippe Faucon, 2022, France, 82m
French and Arabic with English subtitles
Unfolding from 1959 to 1962, as the Algerian War definitively turns against the French colonial powers, Harkis takes its title from the term given to native recruits who joined the occupying army, only to find themselves abandoned when their would-be protectors lost the war. Complexly rendered portraits of men in a difficult situation during a moment of monumental political change are punctured by tense and startling scenes of combat, but the violence and betrayals inflicted on the soldiers by their recruiters is even greater. Moroccan-born French director Philippe Faucon’s Fatima (Rendez-Vous 2016), a sensitive dramedy about a Moroccan mother struggling to connect with her daughters, was awarded Best Picture at the César Awards; here, Faucon demonstrates an equally steady hand with his outstanding ensemble cast, conjuring a vital depiction of a shameful national moment.

The Innocent / L’Innocent
Louis Garrel, 2022, France, 98m
French with English subtitles
Long justly celebrated for his talent as an actor, Louis Garrel has emerged as an increasingly accomplished writer-director in his own right, and his latest comedy is his finest, most accomplished and surprising yet. Uptight Abel (Garrel) loves his mother, Sylvie (Anouk Grinberg), and worries when she hastily marries Michel (Roschdy Zem), a convict, just before his release from prison. Suspicious of Michel’s reformed ways, Abel follows him through the streets of Paris alongside a confidante played by Noémie Merlant (NYFF60 Main Slate selection TÁR) and soon finds himself in over his head as he attempts to navigate a world of criminal mischief. Equally fueled by Garrel’s sparring with the charismatic Zem and his charged romantic chemistry with Merlant, The Innocent places a delightful heist spin on a heartfelt mother-and-son story. A Janus Films Release.

Mother and Son / Un petit frère
Léonor Serraille, 2022, France, 117m
French with English subtitles
Léonor Serraille, whose debut feature, Montparnasse Bienvenüe, was a highlight of Rendez-Vous 2018, returns with this portrait of the complex, sometimes painful relationship between an African immigrant mother and her sons. Upon arriving in France from the Ivory Coast in 1989 with two young children, Rose (Annabelle Lengronne) finds work as a hotel cleaner. The loving and exuberant but erratic mother’s penchant for partying means that she has trouble attending to her job, let alone to her studious sons, Jean (played by Stéphane Bak in adulthood) and Ernest (Ahmed Sylla). Spanning 20 years of their ever-shifting relationship, Serraille demonstrates rare nuance and sensitivity in this thoughtful portrait of an Afro-French family.

Neneh Superstar
Ramzi Ben Sliman, 2022, France, 97m
French with English subtitles
Twelve-year-old Neneh (Oumy Bruni Garrel, as talented a young dancer as she is an actor) simply wants to dance ballet—but, as a Black girl attempting to find a foothold in a historically White cultural milieu and secure the support that her talent clearly merits, the obstacles she faces seem overwhelming. This crowd-pleasing feature by writer-director Ramzi Ben Sliman follows Neneh as she enters a ballet boarding school where the majority of administrators and teachers persist in believing that Black women have no place onstage as part of the classical repertoire. With encouragement from her patient father, Fred (Steve Tientcheu), and under the watchful gaze of teacher and legendary dancer Marianne Bellage (Maïwenn), Neneh finds herself—and her place—in this inspiring story about overcoming systemic disadvantages on the path to artistic achievement.

The Night of the 12th / La Nuit du 12
Dominik Moll, 2022, France/Belgium, 114m
French with English subtitles
Perhaps best known for stylish thrillers like With a Friend Like Harry… (2000) and Only the Animals (2019), Dominik Moll takes a starker turn with his latest. The Night of the 12th tracks an investigation headed by Yohan (Bastien Bouillon) and his older, recently divorced colleague Marceau (Bouli Lanners) into the murder of Clara, a young woman set on fire one night after leaving a party in a small, quiet Alpine town. That horrific story comes from one section of Pauline Guéna’s 18.3, a massive chronicle of a year of French murder investigations that was itself partly inspired by David Simon’s Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets. Moll’s film combines a French version of Simon’s dizzyingly comprehensive overview with the sweep of Zodiac and Memories of Murder, delivering the genre hallmarks of true crime while excavating insidious strains of misogyny in contemporary French society. A Film Movement release.

The Origin of Evil / L’Origine du mal
Sébastien Marnier, 2022, France/Canada, 123m
French with English subtitles
When Stéphane (Laure Calamy of Call My Agent!) gets in touch with wealthy Serge (Jacques Weber), announcing that she is his long-abandoned daughter, his immediate family are none too thrilled. As Stéphane embarks on an extended visit in hopes of getting to know Serge, she also becomes entangled with the hostile women who share a tense existence in his beautifully appointed mansion by the sea: the restaurateur’s wife (Dominique Blanc), his other daughter (Doria Tillier), a rebellious granddaughter (Céleste Brunnquell), and a strangely off-putting housemaid, all of whom are clearly unsettled by the arrival of Serge’s newly announced heir. But Stéphane is a confident liar with secrets of her own, which writer-director Sébastien Marnier teases out with cool assurance in this wildly entertaining thriller (featuring a number of virtuoso split-screen sequences) that will keep you guessing all the way to the end. An IFC Films release.

Other People’s Children / Les Enfants des autres
Rebecca Zlotowski, 2022, France, 104m
French with English subtitles
Acclaimed writer-director Rebecca Zlotowski (An Easy Girl, Rendez-Vous 2020) draws from her own life to depict the emotional trajectory of Rachel (Virginie Efira), a schoolteacher whose desire for a biological child seems increasingly unlikely to be fulfilled (as she’s informed by her gynecologist in a delightful cameo from Frederick Wiseman). When Rachel enters into a relationship with car designer Ali (Roschdy Zem), he’s slow to let her know that he’s a single father, but once she finds out she quickly grows to love his precocious daughter, Leila (Callie Ferreira-Goncalves). The stresses and strains of close relationships between adults and children are thoughtfully examined in this drama that’s as romantic in its evocation of new love blossoming in Paris as it is clear-headed about the myriad pressures that societal expectations impose on the lives of middle-aged women. A Music Box Films release.

The Plough / Le Grand chariot
Philippe Garrel, 2023, France, 97m
French with English subtitles
Examining family history and turmoil has fueled much of the greatest work of Philippe Garrel (Regular Lovers, The Salt of Tears), whose new film pays tribute to his late father (and regular cast member) Maurice’s background as a puppeteer. Simon (Aurélien Recoing), the head of a puppet troupe, works alongside his children, all played by Philippe’s actual children: son Louis (Louis Garrel) and daughters Martha (Esther Garrel) and Lena (Lena Garrel, making an auspicious first appearance in the Garrel family filmography). Feeling the strain of aging, Simon invites temporary assistant Peter (Damien Mongin) to join the troupe permanently—a responsibility that becomes fraught when Simon dies shortly thereafter. A rare film in color from Garrel, The Plough reaffirms his status as one of the great contemporary directors of actors, drawing on impeccably naturalistic performances while delving fearlessly into the tense dynamics of familial bonds and romantic ties.

Saturn Bowling / Bowling Saturne
Patricia Mazuy, 2022, France/Belgium, 114m
English and French with English subtitles
Police detective Guillaume (Arieh Worthalter) decides to gift the family bowling alley to his estranged half-brother, Armand (Achille Reggiani), following the death of their father. Their already contentious relationship is further strained by a series of murders that transform a tense drama into a twisty neo-noir as Guillaume’s investigation brings him deeper into conflict with his brother. Deservedly named one of last year’s 10 best films by Cahiers du cinéma, the latest from always-original auteur Patricia Mazuy (Paul Sanchez Is Back!, Rendez-Vous 2018) marks a somber change of pace. With the filmmaker’s flair for unusual gestures firmly in place, Saturn Bowling is one of Mazuy’s darkest and most confident visions to date, a thriller with the force of a modern tragedy. A Dark Star Pictures release.

Smoking Causes Coughing / Fumer fait tousser
Quentin Dupieux, 2022, France, 82m
French with English subtitles
The adventures of a curiously low-rent band of superheroes—the Captain Planet-esque Tobacco Force, who swear they’re actually against smoking—are merely the starting point for this gloriously goofy new outing from the relentlessly imaginative Quentin Dupieux (Mandibles, Rendez-Vous 2021). After the five fighters defeat a gigantic turtle in the middle of a desert, their chief (a puppet rat) has bad news—metadata indicates that their group cohesion skills are disastrous—and sends them off on a retreat to fix the problem. Once they arrive, in lieu of self-improvement exercises, the campfire stories begin, setting into motion a shaggy-dog series of wild, unpredictable comic sketches performed by an all-star cast that includes Adèle Exarchopoulos, Vincent Lacoste, Gilles Lellouche, Anaïs Demoustier, Alain Chabat, and one very erratic robot. A Magnolia Pictures and Magnet Releasing release.

Three Nights a Week / Trois nuits par semaine
Florent Gouëlou, 2022, France, 103m
French with English subtitles
Baptiste (Pablo Pauly) first meets drag performer Cookie Kunty (Romain Eck) on the streets while volunteering at a public-health clinic alongside his girlfriend, Samia (The Secret of the Grain’s Hafsia Herzi). Trapped in a dead-end retail job while trying to develop his photography portfolio, Baptiste is in search of a subject for his art—but, in writer-director Florent Gouëlou’s feature debut, the choice to follow Cookie and document the rituals of the drag world ultimately leads him on a profound journey of self-discovery. Himself a drag performer under the name Javel Habibi, Gouëlou takes Baptiste and viewers on a deep dive into the world of drag performance and culture, depicted with loving, joyous accuracy thanks to the contributions of 40 French drag artists at work both in front of and behind the camera.

Winter Boy / Le Lycéen
Christophe Honoré, 2022, France, 122m
French with English subtitles
“My life has become a wild animal that I can’t approach without getting bitten,” explains young Lucas (Paul Kircher) at the beginning of the latest from Rendez-Vous alumnus Christophe Honoré (last year’s Guermantes, Love Songs). In the wake of his father’s sudden death, adolescent Lucas is plunged into deep grief, leading his mother, Isabelle (Juliette Binoche), to send him to live temporarily with his brother, Quentin (Vincent Lacoste), in Paris. Manic in his mourning, Lucas tumultuously explores his queer sexuality as his brother and mother deal with their own emotional turmoil. Inspired by Honoré’s experience of losing his own father at the age of 15, Winter Boy stands as one of the director’s most autobiographical films yet, a story that he’s updated and set in the present day—rendering his past both immediate and universal in this raw, tender, and gorgeous work.

The Worst Ones / Les Pires
Lise Akoka and Romane Gueret, 2022, France, 99m
French with English subtitles
Belgian director Gabriel (Johan Heldenbergh) and his crew (including Matthias Jacquin) arrive in the small town of Boulogne-sur-Mer to cast non-professional teenagers for his debut feature. The plan is to fill out a loosely sketched script with local performers scouted from working-class northern France, and Gabriel lands on four talented teens: Lily (Mallory Wanecque), Ryan (Timéo Mahaut), Jessy (Loïc Pech), and Maylis (Melina Vanderplancke). Concerned with improving their town’s image in the media, some residents disapprove of these seemingly disreputable representatives of the housing projects being chosen for the production. Lise Akoka and Romane Gueret’s thorny, complex debut (winner of the Un Certain Regard section at last year’s Cannes) walks a remarkably fine line between fact and fiction, allowing their young performers to give star-making turns as “themselves” while considering the ways in which ostensibly well-meaning documentary and fiction films can exploit nonperformers in the name of authenticity. A Kino Lorber release.

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