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    Rendez-Vous with French Cinema 2020

    The 2020 Rendez-Vous with French Cinema, Mar. 5-15, 2020

    GENERAL FILM FORUM THREAD


    CATHERINE AND JULIETTE IN THE TRUTH

    FILMS & DESCRIPTIONS
    were announced Thurs. 23 Jan. 2020. Following are descriptions courtesy of Film at Lincoln Center. (If you know French, pay close attention to the original French titles.) This information and more will be found on the FSLC site HERE. The Rendez-Vous with French Cinema is one of the most popular film series in New York. It's an annual collaboration between UniFrance and the Film Society of Lincoln Center that's now in its 25th year. Filmleaf coverage goes back to 2006. To the Lincoln Center press release info I have added info about the French releases. (Note the "spectator" ratings are often very different.)

    All screenings take place at the Walter Reade Theater (165 W 65th St) unless otherwise noted.

    Opening Night
    The Truth / La vérité
    Hirokazu Kore-eda, France/Japan, 2019, 106m
    French and English with English subtitles
    New York Premiere

    In his follow-up to the Palme d’Or–winning Shoplifters, Hirokazu Kore-eda casts two titans of French cinema, Catherine Deneuve and Juliette Binoche, in a film structured around the rippling tensions underlying a family gathering. With controlled intensity, Deneuve plays Fabienne, a screen icon preparing to publish her memoirs. The version of her life as presented on the page, however, is critiqued by her daughter Lumir (Binoche), visiting Fabienne’s secluded home with her American TV actor husband (Ethan Hawke) and their young daughter. Resentments seep out—and eventually explode—as Fabienne and Lumir confront the reality of their dynamic; meanwhile, their drama begins to affect Fabienne’s next project, in which she uneasily shares the screen with a rising young actress (Manon Clavel). Kore-eda deftly grapples with aging, memory, and guilt, while locating a tenderness that can thaw even the deepest-rooted conflicts. An IFC Films release.
    French release 25 Dec., AlloCine press rating 3.7.
    Thursday, March 5, 6:30pm (Introduced by Juliette Binoche and Ethan Hawke)
    Thursday, March 5, 9:15pm

    Alice and the Mayor / Alice et le maire
    Nicolas Pariser, France/Belgium, 2019, 103m
    French with English subtitles
    New York Premiere

    Alice (Anaïs Demoustier) leaves her Oxford philosophy professorship for a new communications post at the mayor’s office in her hometown of Lyon. But when the mayor (Fabrice Luchini) confides in her that he’s having trouble generating any ideas to improve the city, Alice realizes that her true task is to reawaken the progressive spirit that inspired his initial run for office. Directed by Nicolas Pariser (2016 Rendez-Vous highlight The Great Game) and featuring supporting turns from Nora Hamzawi (Non-Fiction) and Antoine Reinartz (BPM), Alice and the Mayor finds an unsentimental urgency in idealism, unfolding in heartfelt and thought-provoking conversations that inspire meaningful political action over empty rhetoric. A selection of the 2019 Cannes Film Festival Directors’ Fortnight.
    French release 2 Oct., AlloCine press rating 3.8.
    Saturday, March 7, 1:00pm (Q&A with Nicolas Pariser)
    Wednesday, March 11, 9:30pm

    The Best Years of a Life / Les plus belles années d’une vie
    Claude Lelouch, France, 2019, 90m
    French and Italian with English subtitles
    New York Premiere

    In this stirring sequel to Claude Lelouch’s classic 1966 Palme d’Or–winner A Man and a Woman, Jean-Louis Trintignant and Anouk Aimée reprise their roles. Jean-Louis (Trintignant) now struggles with dementia in a nursing home, unable to recall his glory days as a racecar driver; his former lover Anne (Aimée) has retired from producing films to maintain a fabric shop in sleepy Normandy. But then Jean-Louis’s son (Antoine Sire) seeks out Anne to remind his now prickly and standoffish father of the affair that once brought him so much joy. With a thoughtful, ruminative script by Lelouch and Valérie Perrin, The Best Years of a Life weaves a career-spanning tapestry for Trintignant, Aimée, and Lelouch, and traces the indelible arc of life as it’s lived.
    French release 22 May, AlloCine press rating 3.4. (68%).
    Saturday, March 7, 3:45pm (Q&A with Claude Lelouch and Valérie Perrin)

    Burning Ghost / Vif-argent
    Stéphane Batut, France, 2019, 104m
    French with English subtitles
    U.S. Premiere

    Winner of the prestigious Prix Jean Vigo, this smoldering feature debut from Stéphane Batut—a renowned casting director whose credits include Let the Sunshine In and Stranger by the Lake—is an entrancing tale of love and loss. Juste (Thimotée Robart) drifts through a liminal Paris: able to see spirits of the dead, he guides them into the afterlife, while at the same time he’s unsettled in his own personal purgatory. Entirely by chance, he runs into long-lost acquaintance Agathe (Judith Chemla of A Woman’s Life), and falls into an entanglement that’s not quite compatible with his ethereal world. Burning Ghost locates an aching romanticism that precariously exists on the precipice between life and death.
    French release 28 Aug., AlloCine 3.5 (70%).
    Tuesday, March 10, 1:45pm
    Friday, March 13, 6:30pm (Q&A with Stéphane Batut)

    Cuties / Mignonnes
    Maïmouna Doucouré, France, 2020, 95m
    French with English subtitles
    New York Premiere

    Shy 11-year-old Amy (Fathia Youssouf Abdillahi) becomes fascinated by her self-possessed neighbor Anjelica when she spots her dancing in their apartment building’s laundry room. So when Amy discovers that Anjelica is part of a hip-hop dance troupe, the “Cuties,” she tries her best to fit in with the group, already deep in training for a local competition. Amy masters the routine, but her newfound talents conflict with her family’s traditional expectations for the woman she should become; meanwhile her mother anxiously awaits her father’s return from Senegal with his second wife. Maïmouna Doucouré’s vibrant debut feature, which screened at both Sundance and the Berlin Film Festival, is exceptionally attuned to the internal yearnings and external pressures of adolescence. A Netflix release.
    French release coming 1 Apr. 2020.
    Tuesday, March 10, 6:30pm (Q&A with Maïmouna Doucouré)
    Thursday, March 12, 2:00pm

    The Dazzled / Les éblouis
    Sarah Suco, France, 2019, 99m
    French with English subtitles
    New York Premiere

    Actress-turned-director Sarah Suco’s debut feature is a mesmerizing slow burn set in an insular Catholic community. When promising 12-year-old acrobat Camille (a breakout Céleste Brunnquell) performs in a sketch that seems to make light of prayer, the church’s leader—known only as “The Shepherd” (Jean-Pierre Darroussin of Le Havre)—asks her parents to withdraw her from circus training. Her mother (Camille Cottin) has become emotionally dependent on the parish, while her father (Éric Caravaca, Lover for a Day) seems brainwashed; amidst this, covertly secular Camille and her younger brothers must come into their own.
    French release 20 Nov. 2019, AlloCine rating 3.7 (73%).
    Sunday, March 8, 6:30pm (Q&A with Sarah Suco)
    Friday, March 13, 4:15pm

    Deerskin / Le daim
    Quentin Dupieux, France, 2019, 77m
    French with English subtitles
    New York Premiere

    Oscar-winner Jean Dujardin (The Artist) stars in this rollicking, absurdist, and lightly surrealist take on the midlife crisis movie, directed by Rendez-Vous mainstay Quentin Dupieux (Reality, Keep an Eye Out!). Georges (Dujardin) drops several thousand Euros on an Easy Rider–style, 100%-deerskin jacket, then absconds to a country inn in a sleepy town far away from his wife. There, he starts experimenting with a mini-DV camcorder, enlisting the help of an aspiring film editor (Portrait of Lady on Fire’s Adèle Haenel) to assemble a most unusual docufiction—for which a certain garment comes to act as an unconventional muse. Dupieux’s romp—in which ATM withdrawal freezes, parka confiscations, and a repurposed ceiling fan all play unforgettable roles—opened last year’s Director’s Fortnight at Cannes. A Greenwich Entertainment release.
    French release 19 June, AlloCine press rating 3.8 (76%).
    Sunday, March 8, 9:15pm
    Saturday, March 14, 9:00pm

    An Easy Girl / Une fille facile
    Rebecca Zlotowski, France, 2019, 92m
    French with English subtitles
    North American Premiere

    During a sweltering summer on the beaches of Cannes, 16-year-old Naïma (Mina Farid) passes languid days working in a restaurant and preparing for acting auditions with her close friend Dodo (Lakdhar Dridi). When her glamorous cousin Sofia (Zahia Dehar) arrives for an extended stay, Naima begins to shadow her seemingly thrilling lifestyle, which gets complicated when Sofia becomes entangled with two art dealers (Nuno Lopes and The Piano Teacher’s Benoît Magimel). Breezy yet sumptuous, Rebecca Zlotowski’s fourth feature (her previous, Planetarium, played at Rendez-Vous in 2017 [but not reviewed on Filmleaf]) taps into the universal hunger of adolescence, and imbues an empathetic coming-of-age story with a sharp class critique. A Netflix release.
    French release 28 Aug., AlloCine press rating 3.5. (70%).
    Saturday, March 7, 9:00pm (Q&A with Rebecca Zlotowski)
    Thursday, March 12, 4:00pm

    Happy Birthday / Fête de famille
    Cédric Kahn, France/Belgium, 2019, 101m
    French with English subtitles
    New York Premiere

    Both buoyant and bittersweet, this perceptive ensemble piece directed by Cédric Kahn (whose Wild Life played in Rendez-Vous 2015) and headlined by Catherine Deneuve tests the ties that bind a family. Deneuve is matriarch Andréa, whose family comes together to celebrate her 70th birthday. Everything seems to be in order with her strait-laced son (Kahn) and his family, as well as with her more free-spirited son (Non-Fiction’s Vincent Macaigne), who plans to document the gathering on video. But when her mentally unstable daughter Claire (Emmanuelle Bercot, Cannes Best Actress winner for My King) reappears after three years, old resentments surface, not least from the teenager (Portrait of a Lady on Fire’s Luàna Bajrami) Claire abandoned. Kahn coaxes mood swings of warmth and vitriol from his cast in a film that takes place over the course of one hectic day.
    French release 4 Sept., Allociné presds rating 3.3 (66%).
    Thursday, March 12, 9:15pm
    Sunday, March 15, 6:15pm

    Isadora’s Children / Les enfants d’Isadora
    Damien Manivel, France/South Korea, 2019, 84m
    French with English subtitles
    North American Premiere

    Dance legend Isadora Duncan responded to the tragic death of her children by choreographing a three-part piece called Mother. In Isadora’s Children, Damien Manivel depicts a trio of characters engaging with Duncan’s work of art: an introspective choreographer (Agathe Bonitzer) feeling her way through the piece’s movements; a dance teacher and her student rehearsing the dance for a recital; and a member of the audience (played by renowned dancer and choreographer Elsa Wolliaston), who carries the memory of the performance through a solitary evening. Manivel, who won Best Director at the Locarno Film Festival, makes something hypnotic out of precisely timed gestures, and explores how to infuse a choreographed routine with a shared, intimate humanity.
    French release 20 Nov., AlloCiné press rating 3.6 (72%).
    Friday, March 3, 4:00pm
    Saturday, March 14, 2:00pm

    Joan of Arc / Jeanne
    Bruno Dumont, France, 2019, 137m
    French with English subtitles
    U.S. Premiere

    Ten-year-old Lise Leplat Prudhomme commands the center of Bruno Dumont’s inventive reimagining of the story of Joan of Arc, a sequel to Dumont’s musical Jeannette: The Childhood of Joan of Arc (2017) that’s singular and entrancing enough to stand on its own. Joan, compelled by visions of God, leads the French charge against invading English forces, and is later captured and put on trial for heresy. Although this chapter is cinematically well-trod, Dumont turns it into an uncanny, absurdist mood piece, strikingly shot amid rolling hills and vaulted cathedrals. As legendary singer-songwriter Christophe’s synthesizers slice through the droll stillness, Joan comes into her own, gaining a gravitas that makes her a force to be reckoned with. As always, Dumont proves his mastery with this enthralling, witty, and deeply rewarding work. A KimStim release.
    French release 11 Sept., AlloCiné press rating 3.9 (78%)
    Wednesday, March 11, 6:15pm (Q&A with Bruno Dumont)
    Friday, March 13, 1:30pm

    On a Magical Night / Chambre 212
    Christophe Honoré, France/Belgium/Luxembourg, 2019, 87m
    French with English subtitles
    New York Premiere

    Chiara Mastroianni won Best Actress in the Cannes Film Festival’s Un Certain Regard section for her fierce performance in this playful, fantastical spin on a Rohmerian moral tale, the latest from Christophe Honoré (Sorry Angel, NYFF56). Mastroianni is law professor Maria, whose 25-year marriage to Richard (singer-songwriter Benjamin Biolay) is ruptured when he discovers texts from Maria’s younger lover on her phone. After checking into a hotel across the street, she doesn’t exactly find herself alone with her thoughts: over the course of a hallucinatory evening, she’s visited by a series of impossible guests, including Richard’s twenty-something self (Vincent Lacoste) and the embodiment of her own free will (Stéphane Roger). Honoré’s stylish and sensual aesthetic makes for a swooning reflection on love and memory that becomes even more heartrending thanks to the brilliant cast. A Strand Releasing release.
    French releawse 9 Oct. , AlloCiné press rating 4.1 (82%).
    Friday, March 6, 8:45pm (Q&A with Chiara Mastroianni)
    Monday, March 9, 4:15pm

    Papicha
    Mounia Meddour, France/Algeria/Belgium/Qatar, 2019, 106m
    French and Arabic with English subtitles
    New York Premiere

    Nedjma (Lyna Khoudri) is a university student during the Algerian Civil War. Although she’s studying French, her passion is fashion design: defying religious conservatism, she custom-makes dresses for her peers that are examples of individual expression. Attacks on civilians are on the rise from fundamentalist Islamist sects, and a shocking incident drives Nedjma to stage a unique protest: a fashion show centered around repurposing the haik, a traditional veil, into secular garments. Anchored by a remarkable naturalism and camaraderie among its lead actresses (especially from Khoudri and Shirine Boutella), Papicha—a highlight of Cannes’ Un Certain Regard section—tells an unflinching story of resistance and resilience, and marks an inspired, sometimes harrowing debut for Mounia Meddour. A Distrib Films release.
    French release 9 Oct., AlloCiné press 3.7 (74%).
    Friday, March 6, 1:45pm
    Thursday, March 12, 6:15pm (Q&A with Mounia Meddour)

    Perfect Nanny / Chanson douce
    Lucie Borleteau, France, 2019, 100m
    French with English subtitles
    New York Premiere

    Seeking a nanny, young parents Myriam (Leïla Bekhti) and Paul (Antoine Reinartz) think they’ve found the perfect solution in Louise (Karin Viard). She comes with glowing references from multiple families, and she immediately takes a shine to their two young children. But as Myriam re-immerses herself in her legal job, Louise entrenches herself deeper and deeper into their family life, her behavior growing ever stranger. Under the watchful eye of director Lucie Borleteau (Fidelio: Alice’s Odyssey, Rendez-Vous 2015), this adaptation of Leïla Slimani’s best-seller becomes a vividly detailed, unsettling thriller that probes our tendencies to trust those we barely know. A Distrib Films release.
    French releaase 27 Nov., AlloCiné press rating 3.2 (64%).
    Monday, March 9, 6:15pm (Q&A with Lucie Borleteau)
    Wednesday, March 11, 1:45pm

    Proxima
    Alice Winocour, France/Germany, 2019, 107m
    English, French, Russian, and German with English subtitles
    New York Premiere

    Sarah (Eva Green, The Dreamers), an astronaut living in Cologne, is selected for a yearlong space flight to help pave the way for future voyages to Mars. Before liftoff, she must spend a grueling year at a training facility in Moscow, which separates her from her young daughter (Zélie Boulant), left in the care of her ex-husband (Clouds of Sils Maria’s Lars Eidinger). Highly aware that she’s the only woman involved in the mission, Sarah tries to stay focused and stoic, suppressing any weaknesses that her condescending captain (Matt Dillon) might notice, and trying to soothe her daughter’s newfound loneliness from afar. Set to an atmospheric score from Ryuichi Sakamoto, the third feature from Alice Winocour (Disorder, Rendez-Vous 2016) wrestles poignantly with the earthly loose ends and internal pressures of space travel. A Vertical Entertainment release.
    French release 27 Nov., AlloCiné press rating 3.9 (78%)
    Saturday, March 7, 6:15pm (Q&A with Alice Winocour)
    Tuesday, March 10, 9:15pm

    School Life / La vie scolaire
    Grand Corps Malade and Mehdi Idir, France, 2019, 111m
    French and Arabic with English subtitles
    North American Premiere

    The new vice principal of a middle school in Parisian suburb Saint Denis, Samia (Zita Hanrot, from Paul Sanchez Is Back!) is warned by her fellow teachers that the students are unmotivated and hard to discipline. She sees things differently, however, when she gets to know the students, especially Yanis (Liam Pierron), who’s sharp and driven but disillusioned by a world that seems to have turned its back on him and his family. Slam poet Grand Corps Malade and Mehdi Idir’s second collaboration after 2016’s Step by Step is both vivid institutional critique and lively ensemble piece—a rousing look at the importance of encouraging untapped potential despite institutional odds. A Netflix release.
    French release 28 Aug. , AlloCiné press rating 3.4 (68%).
    Sunday, March 8, 1:00pm (Q&A with Mehdi Idir)
    Tuesday, March 10, 4:00pm

    Someone, Somewhere / Deux moi
    Cédric Klapisch, France/Belgium, 2019, 110m
    French with English subtitles
    New York Premiere

    In this almost-romance from Cédric Klapisch (Paris, Rendez-Vous 2008), warehouse employee Rémy (François Civil) and research assistant Mélanie (Ana Girardot) have never met, but they live parallel lives: they reside in neighboring apartment buildings, ride the same subway route, and are troubled by bouts of insomnia and depression. Their days punctuated by unfulfilling jobs, they seek meaningful romantic and platonic connection. As they stumble through psychotherapy, dating apps, fainting spells, and family visits, the seemingly star-crossed duo orbit around each other but remain just out of reach. Klapisch spins a delicate "what-if" from their compartmentalization, exploring our increasingly hermetic modern urban life. A Distrib Films release.
    French release 11 Sept. , AlloCiné press rating 3.7 (74%).
    Monday, March 9, 9:00pm (Q&A with Cédric Klapisch)
    Saturday, March 14, 6:30pm

    South Terminal / Terminal Sud
    Rabah Ameur-Zaïmeche, France, 2019, 96m
    French and Arabic with English subtitles
    U.S. Premiere

    The haunting, experiential latest from Rabah Ameur Zaïmeche (Story of Judas, Rendez-Vous 2016) centers on a doctor (Ramzy Bedia) in nineties Algeria, which is rapidly becoming a war zone. He spends his days tending to the wounded and comforting the suffering, yet maintains a stoic neutrality toward the ambiguous conflict, resolving that his job is simply to help those in pain. But once he starts receiving death threats and horrors begin to encroach on his own life, his moral position is shaken. As each day’s work wears on the doctor, the inhumanity of the violence turns his life into a purgatory, pushing him to question whether or not more drastic action might be called for.
    French release 20 Nov., AlloCiné press 3.4 (68%).
    Wednesday, March 11, 4:00pm
    Sunday, March 15, 4:00pm

    The Specials / Hors Normes
    Olivier Nakache and Éric Toledano, France, 2019, 114m
    French with English subtitles
    U.S. Premiere

    This heartfelt comic drama from the directing duo behind The Intouchables (Rendez-Vous 2012) targets structural neglect in the French medical system. Bruno (Vincent Cassel) runs a shelter for autistic young people turned away by hospitals, while his friend Malik (Reda Kateb) mentors underprivileged youths seeking employment. Both men, based on real-life people, are constantly frustrated by the lack of consistent funding and institutional support—which eventually leads them to confront the government head-on. With help from a spirited ensemble, The Specials—the 2019 Cannes Film Festival’s closing night selection—crackles with fiery commitment as Bruno and Malik advocate for those living on the margins.
    French release 23 Oct., AlloCiné press raging 3.9 (78%)
    Saturday, March 14, 4:00pm
    Sunday, March 15, 8:45pm

    Spellbound / Les envoûtés
    Pascal Bonitzer, France, 2019, 90m
    French with English subtitles
    North American Premiere

    An uncanny triangle emerges in this update of Henry James’s short story "The Way It Came," directed by Pascal Bonitzer (Right Here Right Now, Rendez-Vous 2017). Book critic Coline (Sara Giraudeau) is assigned a profile of a reclusive, brooding painter (Let the Sunshine In’s Nicolas Duvauchelle), who claims to have seen his mother’s spirit just before her death. Curiously, Coline’s close friend (Anabel Lopez), also an artist, says she witnessed an apparition of her father on the brink of his sudden passing, as well. An ethereal brew of lust, grief, and jealousy propels this transfixing story of invisible frequencies and mortal hungers.
    French release 11 DEc., AlloCiné press rating 3.0 (60%).
    Sunday, March 8, 4:00pm (Q&A with Pascal Bonitzer)
    Friday, March 13, 9:15pm

    Spread Your Wings / Donne moi des ailes
    Nicolas Vanier, France/Norway, 2019, 113m
    English, French, and Norwegian with English subtitles
    U.S. Premiere

    Sulky teenager Thomas (Louis Vazquez) dreads spending summer with his father (Jean-Paul Rouve), an environmentalist in a rural, wifi-less hamlet. Much to his surprise, he grows attached to his father’s new project: an ambitious plan to train a flock of endangered geese to follow a new migratory path, avoidant of pollution and human-made threats. The duo embarks on a journey to the Arctic circle with an ultralight glider, which they’ll fly to guide the geese along their new route. Writer-director Nicolas Vanier (Loup) channels his passion for nature into this tale of our civic responsibility to protect it, a freewheeling adventure of both suspense and enlightening civic action.
    French release 9 Oct., AlloCiné press rating 3.3 ((66%).
    Sunday, March 15, 1:30pm

    Who You Think I Am / Celle que vous croyez
    Safy Nebbou, France/Belgium, 2019, 101m
    French with English subtitles
    U.S. Premiere

    Juliette Binoche balances impulsiveness, determination, and vulnerability as only she can in Who You Think I Am, Safy Nebbou’s follow-up to her survivalist drama In the Forest of Siberia (Rendez-Vous, 2017). Heartbroken after a breakup with her twenty-something boyfriend, philosophy professor Claire (Binoche) longs to stay close to him. On Facebook, she adds her ex’s good friend Alex (François Civil) so that she can browse though his tagged photos; yet to hide her identity, she uses a profile for a 24-year-old alter ego named Clara. When Alex messages her—and she begins responding as Clara—Claire’s plans veer into uncharted territory. In this ingenious adaptation of Camille Laurens’s best-seller, Nebbou turns a romantic comedy premise into a dizzying and dangerous game of mirrors between the real and the virtual. A Cohen Media release.
    French release 27 Feb., AlloCiné press rating 3.4 (68%).
    Friday, March 6, 6:00pm (Q&A with Safy Nebbou and Juliette Binoche)
    Monday, March 9, 2:00pm
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 01-27-2020 at 05:07 PM.

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