Category Archives: ALTERNATIVE SELECTION

LOURDES

SYNOPSIS
In Lourdes, written and directed by Jessica Hausner, wheelchair-bound Christine, hoping for a miraculous cure of her multiple sclerosis, becomes the target of envy, doubt, and derision among her fellow travelers to the eponymous religious-pilgrimage site in southwestern France at the foothills of the Pyrenees. Hausner, one of the most gifted young filmmakers to emerge from Europe in recent years, has no interest in glib pronouncements, and Lourdes neither condemns religious faith nor wholly embraces it. Instead, the film—particularly after Christine appears to have been “cured” of her affliction—asks more questions than it answers, leaving us with the uneasy sense that the divine is ultimately better understood as the arbitrary or the coincidental. As we watch Christine’s limbs slowly reanimate, the moment is indeed transcendent. But is this merely a temporary remission of her illness? Is Christine blessed, just lucky, or neither? Hausner refuses to cynically dismiss as trumped-up magical thinking the possibility that miracles can happen. But nor does she underestimate the simmering rage of those who feel entitled to God’s grace.

“Winking at the absurdity of miracle hunting without fully undercutting its seriousness, Lourdes ultimately eschews rigorous religious inquiry to study the mechanics of envy and frustrated desire.”
Karina Longworth, The Village Voice

DIRECTOR
Jessica Hausner

SCREENPLAY
Jessica Hausner

CAST
Christine: Sylvie Testud
Kuno: Bruno Todeschini
Maria: Léa Seydoux
Cécile: Elina Löwensohn
Pater Nigl: Gerhard Liebmann
Frau Huber: Linda Prelog
Herr Olivetti: Hubsi Kramer

GENRE Drama
LANGUAGE French
RUNNING TIME 99’
PRODUCTION Austria, France, Germany, 2009
RATING Not Rated
FORMAT(S) 35mm, Digibeta, DVD

DISTRIBUTOR
*Please note new distributor: Kino Lorber EDU

COPIE CONFORME / CERTIFIED COPY

SYNOPSIS
Iranian master Abbas Kiarostami works in the West for the first time in this intriguing Tuscany-set story about love and (mis)communication. Playing with the question of what is fake versus what is authentic, Certified Copy opens with an English writer, James Miller, in Italy to promote the translation of his book, arguing that copies are just as good as “the real thing.” The following day, Miller joins an unnamed woman on a car trip to the small town of Lucignano, setting the stage for one of Kiarostami’s trademarks: serious disquisitions inside an automobile. After a café owner mistakenly assumes the two are a married couple, Kiarostami’s film magically shifts, as Miller and the woman begin to act as though they are spouses in the midst of a marital crisis. Watching the two bicker and reconcile, we constantly wonder what the real nature of their relationship is: Are they really strangers? Are they trying to woo each other? In the process of figuring out the true connection of the couple onscreen, we may be left pondering what’s real and fake in our own relationships.

“Certified Copy covers a range of Kiarostami’s concerns to do with male-female relationships, life and art, presence and absence, reality and representation, while its deceptively naturalistic narrative is built on a typically meticulous mise en scène that includes a long conversation in a car, much mischief with reflections and frames within frames and some sly play with perspective.”
Kriss de Witte, Sight and Sound

DIRECTOR
Abbas Kiarostami

SCREENPLAY
Abbas Kiarostami

CAST
She: Juliette Binoche
James Miller: William Shimell

AWARDS
Best Actress, Juliette Binoche – Cannes Film Festival (2010)

GENRE Drama
LANGUAGE French, English, Italian
RUNNING TIME 106’
PRODUCTION France, Italy, Iran, 2009
RATING Not Rated
FORMAT(S) 35mm, DVD

DISTRIBUTOR
IFC Films

UN HOMME QUI CRIE / A SCREAMING MAN

SYNOPSIS
Working on a scale both intimate (a father’s wounded ego) and epic (a nation torn apart by civil war), writer-director Mahamat-Saleh Haroun creates a remarkable portrait of present-day Chad. Adam, a 55-year-old former swimming champion, takes great pride in his work as the pool attendant at a luxury hotel in N’Djamena, the nation’s capital. Adam is assisted in his job by his son, Abdel; their friendly competitiveness is highlighted in the film’s opening scene, as the two men see who can stay underwater the longest. At home with his wife, with whom he is still blissfully in love, Adam pays little attention to the news reports of insurgent attacks on the Chadian army. But the father’s life is upended when his boss tells him that his son will be replacing him as the sole pool attendant. Reeling from this blow to his self-worth, Adam makes a treacherous decision, agreeing to the local district chief’s demand that he offer Abdel instead of cash as his mandatory contribution to the war effort. Adam gets his cherished job back, but the joy it provides is no match for the guilt and torment he now must endure.

“Haroun’s tender but unsentimental regard for his characters allows his storytelling a natural gravitas thoroughly suited to the simultaneously unfolding private and national tragedies.”
Robert Koehler, Variety

DIRECTOR
Mahamat-Saleh Haroun

SCREENPLAY
Mahamat-Saleh Haroun

CAST
Adam: Youssouf Djaoro
Abdel: Dioucounda Koma
District Chief: Emil Abossolo M’Bo
Mariam: Hadjé Fatimé N’Goua
Djénéba: Djénéba Koné
David: Marius Yelolo

AWARDS
Jury Prize – Cannes Film Festival (2010); Best French-Language Film Outside of France – Lumière Awards (2011)

GENRE Drama
LANGUAGE French and Arabic
RUNNING TIME 92’
PRODUCTION Chad, France, Belgium, 2010
RATING Not Rated
GAUGE 35mm, Digibeta, DVD

DISTRIBUTOR
Film Movement

LE REFUGE / HIDEAWAY

SYNOPSIS
The prolific writer-director François Ozon excels at creating characters with complex emotions, motives, and sexual desires, as Hideaway amply demonstrates. After Louis, her junkie boyfriend, overdoses in the film’s quietly devastating opening scene, Mousse, pregnant with his child and trying to stay off heroin, moves to a country house that belongs to an exlover. When Louis’s gay brother, Paul, comes for an extended visit, these two outsiders form a close bond—and a strange erotic fascination with each other. Carré was actually pregnant during the shoot, an element that adds a layer of intriguing realism to this tale of families, both nuclear and chosen. As Mousse explains her reasons for wanting to keep the baby to Paul, it’s readily apparent that pure maternal longing isn’t one of them. But Ozon refuses to judge, choosing instead a more nuanced, compassionate approach. He thoughtfully explores his lead character’s ambivalence and contradictions—and the psychic consequences of her still-deep connection to her drug-addict boyfriend, whose loss she still mourns.

“Sometimes a movie makes a point that’s been made before, but makes it so beautifully and so quietly that it feels like you’re discovering it for the first time. ‘Hideaway’ does that, with the obliqueness of an off-hand comment. The glancing touch makes it all the more hard-hitting.”
Michael O’Sullivan, The Washington Post

DIRECTOR
François Ozon

SCREENPLAY
François Ozon & Mathieu Hippeau

CAST
Mousse: Isabelle Carré
Paul: Louis-Ronan Choisy
Serge: Pierre Louis-Calixte
Louis: Melvil Poupaud

GENRE Drama
LANGUAGE French
RUNNING TIME 90’
PRODUCTION France, 2009
RATING Not Rated
GAUGE Beta SP, Digibeta, DVCAM, DVD

DISTRIBUTOR
Strand Releasing

LE PERE DE MES ENFANTS / THE FATHER OF MY CHILDREN

SYNOPSIS
Only 30 years old, the prodigiously talented writer-director Mia Hansen- Løve follows her assured 2007 debut, Tout est pardonné (All Is Forgiven), about a drug-addicted dad, with an even more wrenching look at another troubled, charismatic patriarch in The Father of My Children. Inspired by the life and death of French film producer Humbert Balsan, Hansen-Løve’s graceful movie follows the chaotic daily routine of Grégoire Canvel, whose production company, Moon Films, is near bankruptcy. Grégoire, completely overwhelmed, tries to hide his burdens from his wife and three daughters, whom he absolutely adores, consistently projecting a charming, sunny disposition. But mid-way through the film, as the pressures escalate, he feels he has no choice but to commit suicide; his family must try to save his company while coming to terms with their own grief and anger. The Father of My Children is as precisely detailed in its depiction of the stress and bureaucracy of how movies get made as it is of the emotional fallout of incomprehensible loss.

“A filmmaker perfectly in tune with different personalities in crisis and conflict, Hansen-Love has said she wanted this film to ‘express the paradox of contradictory movements within the same person.’ Her ability to be candid and involved in emotions without ever crossing the line is the key to why her success is so complete.”
Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times

DIRECTOR
Mia Hansen-Løve

SCREENPLAY
Mia Hansen-Løve

CAST
Sylvia: Chiara Caselli
Grégoire: Louis-Do de Lencquesaing
Clémence: Alice de Lencquesaing
Valentine: Alice Gautier
Billie: Manelle Driss
Serge: Eric Elmosnino

AWARDS
Best Screenplay, Mia Hansen- Løve – Lumière Awards (2010); Un Certain Regard: Prix Spécial – Cannes Film Festival (2009)

GENRE Drama
LANGUAGE French
RUNNING TIME 110’
PRODUCTION France, Germany, 2009
RATING Not Rated
FORMAT(S) 35mm, DVD

DISTRIBUTOR
IFC Films

PANIQUE AU VILLAGE / A TOWN CALLED PANIC

SYNOPSIS
The giddy, chaotic pace in Stéphane Aubier and Vincent Patar’s first feature, a marvelous fantasia made using meticulously detailed stopmotion animation and a cast of 1,500 plastic-toy figures, never lets up for a second. Gleefully defying all logic, A Town Called Panic finds its heroes, Horse, Cowboy, and Indian, living together harmoniously, with Horse partial to taking long, soapy hot showers. After a gaffe involving an order of 50 million bricks mistakenly placed online, the trio travels to the center of the Earth, the frozen tundra (where they must battle an evil giant-robot penguin), and a mysterious underwater universe. During their far-flung adventures, incurable romantic Horse tries to impress an orange-maned mare, Madame Longrée, the town’s devoted music teacher. Seemingly inspired by the manic energy of the Marx brothers and old Warner Bros. cartoons, A Town Called Panic, which originated as a cult-favorite TV show, is ultimately in a class of its own, its playful, nonstop anarchy bound to appeal to children and adults alike.

‘A Town Called Panic’ is an adventure story as fast-paced and exciting as any currently in theaters. The fact that it stars a dashing plastic horse and his excitable wards, a plastic cowboy and Indian, only makes it that much better.”
Mike Hale, The New York Times.

DIRECTOR
Stéphane Aubier & Vincent Patar

SCREENPLAY
Stéphane Aubier & Vincent Patar

VOICES
Cowboy: Stéphane Aubier
Madame Longrée: Jeanne Balibar
Mouton / Jean-Paul: Nicolas Buysse Véronique Dumont: Janine
Indien: Bruce Ellison
Cheval: Vincent Patar

GENRE Animation, Comedy
LANGUAGE French
RUNNING TIME 75’
PRODUCTION France, Belgium, Luxemboug, 2009
RATING Not Rated
FORMAT(S) 35mm, Beta SP, Digibeta, DVD

DISTRIBUTOR
Zeitgeist Films

NENETTE

SYNOPSIS
Stare at Borneo native and Paris resident Nénette long enough, and she begins to resemble another stolid, thick-set immigrant to France: Gertrude Stein. Documentarian Nicolas Philibert, whose long, observational takes made even the conjugation of auxiliary verbs fascinating in his countryschool portrait, To Be and To Have (2002), invites such projections, his camera trained almost exclusively on the russet-haired simian for 70 minutes (the three other orangutans who share her cage, including her son, receive only cameos). Resolutely opposed to anthropomorphic sentimentality, Philibert asks that viewers ponder the listlessness of his titular subject, who has impassively looked out at spectators from captivity nearly her entire life. Off-screen voices—kids who marvel, “It looks strangely like a man”; zoo-keepers who discuss the particulars of Nénette’s psychology; an actor who soliloquizes on the toll of her boredom—emphasize our primate ancestry, as does observing Nénette enjoying her daily yogurt break, opposable thumb guiding the spoon before she devours the plastic container. Watching Nénette watch those who gape at her is an endlessly intriguing, multi-layered exercise in voyeurism.

“ …in the end Nénette remains resistant to our projections, an opaque block that harshly reflects our inability to understand that she is almost like us. Nicolas Philibert nonetheless films her with great tenderness, in tune with the sluggish pace of her daily life and the slowness of her movements…”
Thomas Sotinel, Le Monde

DIRECTOR
Nicolas Philibert

WRITER
Nicolas Philibert

PARTICIPANTS
Nénette, Tubo, Théodore, Tamu

GENRE Documentary
LANGUAGE French
RUNNING TIME 67’
PRODUCTION France, 2009
RATING Not Rated
FORMAT(S) Digibeta, DVD

DISTRIBUTOR
Kino Lorber EDU

NON MA FILLE TU N’IRAS PAS DANSER / MAKING PLANS FOR LENA

SYNOPSIS
Chiara Mastroianni, the daughter of Catherine Deneuve and Marcello Mastroianni, steps out of the shadows of her famous parents with her superlative lead performance in Christophe Honoré’s trenchant look at family ties. In her mid-30s, Léna, a recently divorced mother, takes her two young children to her parents’ vacation home in Brittany. While there, she is constantly under attack from her siblings and mother and father—a tense situation that isn’t made any easier when Léna’s ex-husband, for whom she still has strong feelings, shows up. In the throes of an emotional meltdown, Léna insists that all she wants is her freedom; thanks to Mastroianni’s multifaceted portrayal of this troubled character and Honoré’s empathetic treatment, that’s all we want for her, too. Struggling to find her balance while she sinks deeper into despair, Léna finds a parallel of sorts to her crises in a Breton folk tale that her son has just read. Magically interrupting the main narrative at the midpoint, Honoré dramatizes this fairy tale, about an independent young woman who dances all of her would-be spouses to death. After this interlude concludes, Léna is back in Paris with her kids, where her harried life is filled with tests of stamina similar to the folk heroine’s.

“By reconnecting with his native Brittany, Christophe Honoré, whom we have known in the past to be more abstract and mannered, has captured substance and naturalness. His film is a wholehearted investigation of humanity, done with warmth, violence, and beautiful passion.”
Marie-Noëlle Tranchant, Le Figaro

DIRECTOR
Christophe Honoré

SCREENPLAY
Christophe Honoré & Geneviève Brisac

CAST
Léna: Chiara Mastroianni
Frédérique: Marina Foïs
Annie: Marie-Christine Barrault
Nigel: Jean-Marc Barr

GENRE Drama
LANGUAGE French
RUNNING TIME 109’
PRODUCTION France, 2009
RATING Not Rated
GAUGE 35mm, DVD

DISTRIBUTOR
IFC Films

L’ILLUSIONISTE / THE ILLUSIONIST

SYNOPSIS
Sylvain Chomet’s delightful follow-up to 2003’s The Triplets of Belleville is another exquisitely animated film, one based on an unproduced script by the French comic genius Jacques Tati (which was given to Chomet by Tati’s own daughter). The Illusionist is set in the early 1960s, the time when Tati wrote the screenplay after his huge success with Mon Oncle (1958). As an homage to the source material, Chomet’s title character is the spitting image of Tati. This middle-aged, slightly stoop-shouldered magician is upstaged by his rabbit during performances in Paris; at his shows his London, the Illusionist can’t begin to compete with a wildly popular proto-Beatles band. But he finds far more appreciative audiences in small pubs in Scotland—and makes a devoted teenage friend, Alice, a poor cleaning girl who follows him to Edinburgh. The two form a touching father-daughter bond, with the Illusionist determined to secretly provide Alice with the nice clothes she so admires—finery that isn’t procured through magic, but through a series of funny odd jobs that the conjurer takes. Though neither the magician nor his young charge speak each other’s language, The Illusionist, like Tati’s work, beautifully shows the ways people understand each other nonverbally.

“Here, cinema is envisaged as a magical hall of mirrors in which Chomet can conjure an impossible dance across time and space between himself, the late director who has been his greatest inspiration, and their own respective filmic personae.”
Anton Bitel, Sight and Sound

DIRECTOR
Sylvain Chomet

SCREENPLAY
Sylvain Chomet, original screenplay by Jacques Tati

VOICES
The Illusionist: Jean-Claude Donda
Alice: Eilidh Rankin
French Cinema Manager: Jean- Claude Donda

AWARDS
Best Animated Feature – César Awards (2011); Best Animated Film – New York Film Critics Circle (2010)

GENRE Animation
LANGUAGE English, French
RUNNING TIME 80’
PRODUCTION France, UK, 2010
RATING PG
FORMAT(S) 35mm, Blu-ray, DVD

DISTRIBUTOR
Sony Pictures Classics

L’EPINE DANS LE COEUR / THE THORN IN THE HEART

SYNOPSIS
Best known for stories of whimsical dreamers desperate for love, like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) and The Science of Sleep (2006), Michel Gondry captures his most compelling protagonist yet in The Thorn in the Heart, a wonderfully affectionate documentary about his aunt Suzette. This kind, resilient matriarch worked as a schoolteacher in rural, isolated villages in France from 1952 to 1986; Gondry films his beloved relative reuniting with former colleagues and students, including, most poignantly, one of the repatriated Franco-Algerian Muslims she taught in a mountain refugee camp in 1963. Though the documentary is unquestionably a tribute to this remarkable woman’s career, the director also explores the more treacherous terrain of Suzette’s relationship with her mentally fragile, gay son Jean-Yves, who suffered a breakdown after the death of his father. Gondry, frequently present onscreen, gently questions both mother and son, allowing Suzette and Jean-Yves the opportunity to present their version of events that led to decades-old hurt and misunderstanding. Incorporating Super-8 clips from old family films, The Thorn in the Heart looks to the past for clues to the present, celebrating a devoted teacher who’s also the life of the party.

“Dialing down the whimsy several notches, director Michel Gondry turns his camera on a resilient matriarch in Thorn in the Heart, a lovely, minor-key ode to his aunt, Suzette Gondry.”
Justin Chang, Variety.

DIRECTOR
Michel Gondry

WRITER
Michel Gondry

PARTICIPANTS
Suzette Gondry
Michel Gondry

GENRE Documentary
LANGUAGE French
RUNNING TIME 86’
PRODUCTION France, 2009
RATING Not Rated
FORMAT(S) DVD, Digibeta, Beta SP (on request)

DISTRIBUTOR
Oscilloscope Laboratories