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Thread: NEW FRENCH SHORTS 2020 (Kino Marquee)

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    NEW FRENCH SHORTS 2020 (Kino Marquee)

    New French
    Shorts

    GENERAL FILM FORUM



    From Kino Lorber, a major importer of foreign films to the US, comes a pocket showcase of selected short films new from France. It reportedly "some of the most exciting new cinematic voices from France runs the gamut from animation to queer romance to absurdist comedy," and includes award-winning films from Cannes, Locarno and Palm Springs ShortFest. It's available through Young French Cinema, a program of UniFrance and the Cultural Services of the French Embassy. In theatrical and booking stage now, it will be up on the Kino Lorber Marquee virtual theater May 15, 2020. Online fees to watch will benefit the theater of your choice. For the Kino Marquee page go HERE.

    LINKS TO REVIEWS:
    Ahmed's Song (Foued Mansour, 30m)
    The Distance Between Us and the Sky (Vasilis Kekatos, 9m)
    Glorious Acceptance Speech of Nicolas Chauvin, The (Benjamin Crotty 2018) Bonus
    Magnetic Harvest (Marine Levéel, 24m)
    Sheep, Wolf, and a Cup of Tea... (Marion Lacourt, 12m)
    The Tears Thing (Clémence Poésy, 25m)
    Tuesday from 8 to 6 (Cecilia de Arce, 26m)
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 05-12-2020 at 11:33 AM.

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    AHMED'S SONG/LE CHANT D'AHMED (Foued Mansour 2019)

    FOUED MANSOUR: AHMED'S SONG/LE CHANT D'AHMED (2019)


    MOHAMED SADI IN LE CHANT D'AHMED

    A relationship; a gem

    This evocative half-hour film captures a dry, North African sensibility but is sweet. Ahmed (Mohamed Sadi) is an old dude who's worked nearly 30 years as a public baths attendant. His wife and four children have long ago returned to the bled and they're grown up and grown old apart, through he's always sent clothes and support, never got the shoe size wrong. When you see how fussy Ahmed is, how smartly he knots his scarf, you know he wouldn't miss a detail. But here is, is alone. Then Mike (Bilel Chegrani) arrives as a juvenile offender assigned this temporary job while he's on probation.

    The sly, self-confident (and handsome) youth breaks rules, but the disapproving Ahmed is secretly charmed, even while he's critical of Ahmed's rap composition, disapproves of his attraction to a pretty Roma girl, and is stung when Mike starts singing the famous '80's song of the group Djurdjura, "Tu es Ahmed, le roi du balai," "You're Ahmed the king of the broom." Both the actors are memorable, young Chegrani, a professional who has appeared in the crime series "Engrenages" ("Spiral"), and Sadi, a retried non-actor and denizen of the Maghrebi-centric Goutte d'Or in the 18th arrondissement of Paris.

    Though the situation is harsher and more minimal the relationship reminded me of François Dupeyron's Monsieur Ibrahim with Omar Sharif and Pierre Boulanger. Writer-director Foued Mansour works subtly with looks and gestures and clipped dialogue to develop milieu and character as the closed old man is opened up just enough. A graceful, understated film of neat structure and a sure sense of rhythm down to the last jaunty gesture. Not surprisingly a César nominee for the year's Best French Short Film award. It was in a number of short film festivals including Clermont-Ferrand and also at Palm Springs.


    BILEL CHEGRANI IN LE CHANT D'AHMED
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 05-10-2020 at 01:52 AM.

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    SHEEP, WOLF AND A CUP OF TEA/MOUTON, LOUP ET TASSE DE THÉ (Marion Lacourt 2019)

    MARION LACOURT: SHEEP, WOLF AND A CUP OF TEA/MOUTON, LOUP ET TASSE DE THÉ (2019)



    Inexplicable weirdness

    The French summary at UniFrance's site translates as: "At night, while family members are engaged in curious rituals before going to sleep, a child summons a wolf from the bottom of a box hidden under his bed. Disquieting sheep then besiege the door of his room."

    I did not understand a single minute of this odd, surreal film. However, I do like animations that are hand drawn and avoid the hard shiny plastic look of Pixar or Disney productions, and this is that, with the look of colorful pen and ink paintings.

    Sheep, Wolf and a Cup of Tea/Mouton, loup et tasse de thé, 12 mins. was an award nominee at Locarno, Chicago, and the Hamptons and a winner of the Procirep's Award at Clermont-Ferrand.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 05-10-2020 at 11:07 PM.

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    MARDI DE 8 À 18 (Cecilia de Arce 2019)

    CECIIA DE ARCE: MARDI DE 8 À 18 (2019)


    RIME NAHMANI IN MARDI DE 8 À 8

    You can't win at a dead-end job

    Mardi de 8 à 18, set in a French middle school, feels like an episode from a TV series. It revolves around Névine (Rime Nahmani), a paid monitor who is sympathetic but a bit pathetic, and Logan (Hicham Talib), a problem student she's tried to take under her wing. Névine takes the kids' side in everything. She becomes desperate to help Logan after, in her softhearted way, she gives him a cap from the lost and found because he begs for it, and then its owner fights him to get it back, resulting in a bagarre likely to get Logan expelled. Névine's attempt to take the blame for Logan's bagarre is unsuccessful.

    The other school faculty, administration, and staff are uniformly mean, and the plot therefore lacks nuance, though nuance is admittedly hard to achieve in such an unruly environment. The writing ought to have given Névine a little more toughness and not made the principal quite such a frigid baddy. Then the complexities of school life would have survived even treatment in this format. The point has been clearly made: Névine has a thankless job, and an angry kid from the banlieue has only a slim chance of becoming a pastry chef.

    Illustrates social inequality in France, perhaps the irreparable decline of a once proud and beautifully structured educational system.

    Mardi de 8 à 18 (Tues. from 8 to 6), 26 mins., debuted at Cannes' International Critics Week 2019 where it was nominated for the Canal+ Short Film Grand Prize and the Leitz Ciné Discovery Prize.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 05-09-2020 at 03:39 PM.

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    THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US AND The SKY (Vasilis Kekatos 2019)

    VASILIS KEKATOS: THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US AND THE SKY (2019)



    The hot Greek 9-minute film that won the Cannes Palme d'Or

    Rose girl
    rose of a girl
    which will you sell me
    your roses
    yourself
    or both?
    --Ancient Greek lyric


    This isn't a French short film. But the young Greek director Vasilis Kekatos earned the Palme d'Or at Cannes 2019 against 4,240 competitors. He received it from the hands of Claire Denis, the great French director. It also won the Queer Palm. Kekatos dedicated the win to his uncle who came out as gay at 17 in a conservative family, and later emigrated to Australia to live his own life.

    This is a brief, intense gay story of a meeting, a pickup. The guy at the station wants to get 22.5€ out of the mustaciooed young man on the motorbike to pay his way bak home to Athens. It's a lonely dark Edward-Hopper kind of gas station, it's late at night. Banter is tossed back and forth, but the guy with the bike doesn't smoke, doesn't want to buy oregami "lovebirds," hasn't money to give. The conversation, however, becomes more and more smilingly intimate. The intensity and vividness and on-point acting make this a standout. It is also a bold statement by the Cannes jury, I suppose, to give the highest short film award to such an openly gay film.

    The air in the film is tense with urgency and need. It's desolate. If the petitioner isn't successful, he may be stuck here for many hours. At the same time, there is an increasing sense of mutual attraction and desire, another thing not to waste. The camerawork by Giorgos Valsamis is tight, capturing the growing intimacy and danger, the stark light, the bright-eyed faces. The editing by Stamos Dimitropoulos maintains the minute-to-minute intensity.

    The two actors who make it all work are Ioko Ioannis Kotidis, as the petitioner, and Nikos Zeginoglou, as the biker with the money - or the ride.

    Filmmaker Vasilis Kekatos, who is now 29, abandoned law studies in London to pursue his passion for cinema, and is a graduate student of the film department of Brunel University’s School of Arts in the British capital. He won a short film challenge and mentorship at Sundance in 2016.

    The Distance Between Us and the Sky/ «Απόσταση Ανάμεσα στον Ουρανό και Εμάς», 9 mins, in Greek, debuted at Locarno in 2018, wining the Palme d'Or for short film the next year at Cannes, and won or was nominated for a dozen awards at as many other international festivals, including Clermont-Ferrand, London, Melbourne, Sarajevo and Telluride.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 05-10-2020 at 02:01 AM.

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    THE TEARS THING/LE COUP DES LARMES (Clémence Poésy 2019)

    CLÉMENCE POÉSY: THE TEARS THING/LE COUP DES LARMES (2019)


    FLORENCE PARADY AND SABINE TIMOTEO IN THE TEARS THING

    Drama queens

    Clémence Poésy is a prolific actress (with 48 credits) who is bilingual in French and English. She is known for the French TV thriller series "Tunnel" and is also seen regularly in English-language roles including one with Michael Caine and the part of Fleur Delacour in the Harry Potter films. Twelve years ago she costarred in a film (not a much praised one) with Gaspard Ulliel directed and written by Éric Forestier. Here, Forestier is the writer. India Hair, who plays the lead, is a longhaired, pale blond actress like Poésy, and her character is called Florence Parady. Florence Parady, Clémence Poésy. That makes you wonder.

    But we can't know, and have no reason to suspect, that Poésy had a girlfriend who walked out on her and completely disappeared for a four-year period, which leads to the dramatic main sequence here when Florence Parady, who is to play a super assassin who does battle with another super assassin, enters a grim, tunnel-like farm building to be coached by a woman on the use of firearms. The instructor, to her enormous shock, is that old girlfriend, Sasha. Swiss-born actress Sabine Timoteo, in the role of Sasha, has the cheekbones and stern gaze to play a woman capable of walking out, and of subsequently serving four years in the army learning the firearm skills needed to coach film actors in weapon handling.

    Florence is furious at what Sasha did to her, but the intense attraction she had for her is still evidently there. Given the free handling of dangerous weaponry that's going to take place, will this encounter lead to rapprochement - or murder?

    Is this a thriller - or a comedy? The ampted-up scenes of The Tears Thing seem capable of going either way, and the uncertainty of tone lessens the impact. In the final scene, the action jumps forward to Florence acting in the super assassin role, her emotions overpowering her in a key scene.

    Good moments early on are undercut by uneven handling of the action, with a key event happening off screen and left vague. Mlle Poésy seems to understand acting better than writing. Both lead actresses are fine; the script could have done with some touching up.

    The Tears Thing/Le coup des larmes, 26 mins., debuted in the Orizzonti series at Venice. No other festival appearances are listed on IMDb. It was screened for this review as part of the Kino Lorber Marquee New French Shorts 2020 series, May 9, 2020.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 05-09-2020 at 10:24 PM.

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    MAGNETIC HARVEST/LA TRACTION DES PÔLES (Marine Levéel 2919)

    MARINE LEVÉEL: MAGNETIC HARVEST/LA TRACTION DES PÔLES (2019)


    VICTOR FRADET, GILLES VENDEWEERD IN MAGNETIC HARVEST

    You may not need an app to find love

    Another queer-centric film that ends with a romantic bonding, like the Greek Palme d'Or winning short included in this collection. But this is rural and centered on a pig farmer, Mickaël (Gilles Vandeweerd), who's using Grindr or a more diagrammatic gay hookup app. It shows him maps with circles. "Mikka" - that's him - is in the center, and midway he actually locates a naked man waiting for him in the middle of a field of grain. The two circles then merge, like amoebas. This is an updated rural world with auto-drive tractors and smart phones. Mikka is one of "France’s New Rurals, a group of young, ambitious workers who are electing to stay or move back to the picturesque pastures of France’s countryside," says a Variety article about this film and its director.

    And so beside the love-seeking there are complications, other things happening. Mikka's hog farm is examined and he anxiously awaits its certification as organic. Then by surprise along comes old friend Paul (Victor Fradet), a handsome and sexy guy who's been in New Zealand and now is back. There's a party where the disrespectful use of Mikka's pork sausages leads to a bagarre. The scenes have an edge of wackiness about them, a genial good-naturedness.

    The off-centeredness of a queer film viewpoint has something in common with the well-known work of Alain Guiraudie (Stranger in the Lake, Staying Vertical) or Jérôme Reybaud's Grindr tour 4 Days in France, which is full of hookups but the sex isn't the main thing. The French seem to have something going on here. With all this context, Levéel has material for a feature film, but this short doesn't feel overstuffed.

    This story follows the conventional theme of someone groping around vainly when the best prospect is right in front of him, but seems out of reach. Paul really is so attractive, also so confident, as well as charming and playful, that he may seem unattainable. A parallel theme that might seem comic is Paul and Mikka's search for the runaway alpha male prized breeding hog, who's called Roger.

    This is a short film that slips by easily and seems casual and simple but has depths and rhymes we have to tease out. Marine Levéel, who has been on the crew for other people's shorts going back to 2012 and directs her own first short film here, signals herself as someone to watch.

    Magnetic Harvest//La traction des pôles, 25 mins., debuted Jan. 2019 at Angers, here it won the audience prize, and it also played at the key short film festivals of Clermond-Ferrand and Palm Springs. Screened for this review as part of Kino Lorber Marquee's "New French Shorts" release.


    VICTOR FRADET, GILLES VENDEWEERD IN MAGNETIC HARVEST
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 05-10-2020 at 01:04 PM.

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    THE GLORIOUS ACCEPTANCE SPEECH OF NICOLAS CHAUVIN (Benjamin Crotty 2018)

    BENJAMIN CROTTY: THE GLORIOUS ACCEPTANCE SPEECH OF NICOLAS CHAUVIN (2018)


    ALEXIS MANENTI IN THE GORIOUS ACCEPTANCE SPEECH OF NICOLAS CHAUVIN

    Another sui generis hybrid from Benjamin Crotty

    In Benjamin Crotty's strange, bold, intermittently entertaining short film, the legendary, quite likely apocryphal soldier of Napoleon Bonaparte, Nicolas Chauvin, farmer-turned-soldier veteran in a torn uniform of the Napoleonic army, blood-spattered, one eye roughly patched, steps up excitedly to give a self-aggrandizing acceptance speech for lifetime achievement, as if for an Oscar or a César, but goes on and on and on, and is still speaking during the closing credits. His manner is partly that of a standup comic (with drum and symbol to underline jokes), or a self-satisfied bore, though he wanders off-stage out into a surreal world, and back, and makes remarks to the camera from time to time. Thibaud Ducret wrote in Film Exposure that Crotty here "combines the formal freedom of the Nouvelle Vague and the absurdity of Monty Python." Something like that.

    We are half in the nineteenth century, and two-thirds in the twenty-first: "Nikko" frequently refers to modern-day gadgetry and media, mentioning Wikipedia and saying "Google it!" and openly suspecting the award he's going to receive was manufactured in Taiwan. He says at the outset, "It's not just Eugène Poubelle who left his name to posterity!" referring to the man whose name is synonymous with "garbage" in France. But Poubelle was a real man who gave Paris rubbish bins. Chauvin is only a legend. Here, he is brought to life in a tour de force performance by Alexis Manenti, the actor who later contributed to the writing of last year's Cannes prizewinning film about police brutality in the banlieue, Les Misérables, while also playing the racist white cop Chris, one of the lead characters.

    What is chauvinism? We know it well in the age of Donald Trump, who trashes "shithole countries" and throws out international treaties in the name of American national dominance while constantly lowering the reputation of our country. A chauvinist is a super patriot, as Napoleon was a narcissistic empire-builder. In this age of #MeToo, we know also what a male chauvinist is, and there is a kind of macho swagger about Crotty's Chauvin, which seems to appeal to the woman he meets (Caroline Deruas-Garrel). And this film, bizarre as it is more unified than the filmmaker's 2014 feature film Fort Buchanan, is a meandering, improvisational tour of the speaker's life and by implication both past and current European history.

    Chauvin takes up his relation with Napoleon, whom tradition said he deeply admired. On the contrary, he says he detested the man. Later he says "Napoleon always fought for himself. I always fought for France." But he and the lady meet a cadaver in a field (Antoine Cholet) in medieval-style armor who comes to life to inform Nikko of the fact that he never existed but is merely a version of the "rustic warrior" dreamed up by "the urban intellectual elite."

    Crotty's 2014 feature Fort Buchanan (similarly a film not quite present, past, or future) which debuted at Locarno, had its US premiere at the MoMA/Lincoln Center New Directors/New Films of 2015 (see the Filmleaf review ). Crotty, who was born in Spokane, Washington and graduated from Yale as an art major, then studied film and video at Fresnoy–Studio National in northern France, lives and works in Paris and has become a French citizen, like longtime American expatriate Eugène Green. In a Frieze magazine 2016 "Influences" portfolio Crotty sheds some life on his personality his commentary. In filmed interviews (in English) he tends to laugh a lot.

    But Crotty remains, to me, an enigmatic figure, not least for his decision to have disappeared into French cinema and a sort of French identity. Perhaps he felt he had found a niche there for his idiosyncratic filmmaking style, as Green as done.

    The Glorious Acceptance Speech of Nicolas Chauvin/Le discours d'acceptation glorieux de Nicolas Chauvin, 26 mins., debuted at Locarno where it won the Signs of Life section It was a selection of the 2018 NYFF and winner of Mantarraya Award. Screened for this review as part of the Kino Lorber Marquee offering, "New French Shorts," May 2020. You can watch this film on MyFrenFilmFestival.com via Facebook and click on "settomgs" for English subtitles.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 05-16-2020 at 05:08 PM.

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