Category Archives: ALTERNATIVE SELECTION

L’ENFANT D’EN HAUT / SISTER

SYNOPSIS
A keenly observed examination of class differences and tenuous family ties, Ursula Meier’s accomplished second film (after 2008’s equally assured Home) focuses on 12-year-old Simon and his desperate attempts to survive. Simon lives in a bleak housing project in the valley of a posh Swiss ski resort. This tiny, cunning boy steals skis and other expensive equipment, later reselling it to his neighbors. The money Simon earns from his illegal trade supports not just himself but his young mother, Louise, a wayward, unemployed young woman in her twenties who tries to pass him as her brother. The contrasts between the abundant privilege of the vacationing skiers and the dreary hand-to-mouth existence of Simon are further highlighted by ace cinematographer Agnès Godard: She masterfully shoots the resort as a majestic expanse of bright blue and white, while, down below, Simon’s immediate environment is rendered in punishingly drab gray. In his indelible, heartbreaking portrayal of Simon, Klein joins the ranks of cinema’s greatest child actors.

“The mountains loom so very large and the child looks so very small in Sister, a cool yet compassionate look at two people bound by love and shared struggles in a world of haves and have-nots.”
Manohla Dargis, New York Times

DIRECTOR
Ursula Meier

SCREENPLAY
Antoine Jaccoud, Ursula Meier & Gilles Taurand

CAST
Louise: Lea Seydoux
Simon: Kacey Mottet Klein
Kristin Jansen: Gillian Anderson

AWARDS
Silver Berlin Bear, Ursula Meier – Berlin International Film Festival (2012)

GENRE Crime, Drama
LANGUAGE French, English
RUNNING TIME 97’
PRODUCTION France, Switzerland, 2012
RATING Not Rated
FORMAT(S) 35, Blu-ray, DCP

DISTRIBUTOR
*Please note new distributor: Kino Lorber EDU

DE ROUILLE ET D’OS / RUST AND BONE

SYNOPSIS
This invigorating melodrama from Jacques Audiard—the director of the compelling, multilayered prison drama A Prophet (2009)—centers on the explosive chemistry between two damaged souls. The beefy, penniless Ali and his five-year-old son have traveled south to Antibes, where they settle with Ali’s sister in the hopes of starting a new life. Ali’s part-time job as a club bouncer leads to his meeting Stéphanie, a whale trainer who becomes a double amputee after a freak accident at the marine mammal park where she works. Unfazed by Stéphanie’s disability (rendered with astonishing CGI effects), the often brutish Ali shows his gallantry by carrying her in and out of the Mediterranean on his broad back. For her part, Stéphanie takes a keen interest in Ali’s amateur ultimate-fighting bouts, eventually becoming his manager. As Ali and Stéphanie evolve from friends to casual sex partners to deeply connected soul mates—despite (or because of) their many differences and the obstacles they face—Rust and Bone becomes nothing less than a great love story, recalling the sublime melodramas of the 1950s directed by Douglas Sirk.

“Rust and Bone is impressive by its mastery, intensity and, finally, by its simplicity. (…) each frame is impeccably composed, lighted and cut while remaining at the service of the story and its protagonists. The greatest success of the film is in its characters, therefore the actors: their bodies, their allocution, their interactions, their looks, their range of feelings.”
Serge Kaganski, Les Inrockuptibles

DIRECTOR
Jacques Audiard

SCREENPLAY
Jacques Audiard, Thomas Bidegain. Based on the eponymous short story collection by Craig Davidson.

CAST
Stéphanie: Marion Cotillard
Alain van Versch: Matthias Schoenaerts
Sam: Armand Verdure
Louise: Céline Sallette

GENRE Drama, Romance
LANGUAGE French
RUNNING TIME 120’
PRODUCTION France, Belgium, 2012
RATING Not Rated
FORMAT(S) 35, Blu-Ray, DCP, DVD

DISTRIBUTOR
Sony Pictures Classics

COULEUR DE PEAU: MIEL / APPROVED FOR ADOPTION

SYNOPSIS
An enchanting hybrid of animation and live-action, this adaptation of co-director Jung’s autobiographical graphic novel recounts his childhood and adolescence after a Belgian couple adopts him from a South Korean orphanage in the early 1970s. Though Jung—who, we learn, was just one of many adopted Asian kids in his Belgian town during this era—is raised by loving parents and supported by his four older siblings, he often feels like an outsider. During his teenage years, he endures many painful episodes, some self-inflicted, in his struggle to define his identity. Interspersed throughout the animated sequences—rendered in beautiful sepia hues—of this lively character’s youth is footage of the real Jung, now 43 years old, in his native country, trying to learn more about his past. Approved for Adoption poignantly traces one man’s interrogation of ethnicity and culture. During this memorable quest, Jung learns to redefine “home”—and, in the process, discovers the seeds of his many talents.

“A black and white comic with round lines and a sense of innocence, Couleur de peau: miel is an unabashed cathartic process. Far from being a mere animated reproduction, this film adaptation displays a pretty visual inventiveness so as to materialize the hybrid identity of an adopted child.”
Carole Millerili, Critikat.com

DIRECTOR
Laurent Boileau, Jung

SCREENPLAY
Laurent Boileau, Jung. Based on the graphic novel Couleur de peau: Miel by Jung Henin.

VOICES
Jung Adult: William Coryn
Jung’s Adoptive Mother: Christelle Cornil
Jung’s Adoptive Father: Jean-Luc Couchard
Jung, 8 Years Old: Arthur Dubois
Jung, 17 Years old: David Macaluso

GENRE Animation
LANGUAGE French
RUNNING TIME 70’
PRODUCTION Belgium, France, South Korea, Switzerland, 2012
RATING Not Rated
FORMAT(S) Blu-Ray, DCP, DVD

DISTRIBUTOR
GKids

LE CHAT DU RABBIN / THE RABBI’S CAT

SYNOPSIS
Based on co-director Joann Sfar’s popular comic-book series of the same name, The Rabbi’s Cat features a remarkable, if hairless and giant-eared, feline at its center. This wryly philosophical, beautifully drawn, meticulously detailed animated film takes place during the 1920s and ’30s in Algiers, where the kitty of the title is preparing for his bar mitzvah. Having previously devoured his master’s parrot, the cat now has the power of speech, which he uses, as a devout soul should, to constantly question and probe his faith. Soon the cat and the rabbi set out for Ethiopia, encountering along the way a host of characters of various creeds and ethnicities. During their trek, the Jewish leader and his inquisitive pet will face a few treacherous situations. But their voyage ultimately, upliftingly results in interfaith harmony and a richer understanding of their own religious identity and history.

“The Rabbi’s Cat remains intelligently entertaining by carrying an invaluable political message for our time of tensions. While starting off with characters marked by a strong Jewish identity, The Rabbi’s Cat retraces the colonial route in light of the Enlightenment, clearly advocating exchange, openness, the discovery of the world and of the other. The cat, on behalf of Sfar, is at once Milou, Jiminy Cricket and Socrates.”
Serge Kaganski, Les Inrockuptibles

DIRECTOR
Antoine Delesvaux, Joann Sfar

SCREENPLAY
Jean-François Laguionie, Anik Leray

VOICES
Lola: Jessica Monceau
Claire: Chloé Berthier
Gom: Julien Bouanich
Plume: Thierry Jahn

GENRE Animation
LANGUAGE French
RUNNING TIME 76’
PRODUCTION France, 2011
RATING Not Rated
FORMAT(S) Blu-ray, DCP

DISTRIBUTOR
GKids

LE BONHEUR D’ELZA / ELZA

SYNOPSIS
Mariette Monpierre casts herself in a small but crucial role at the beginning of her wondrous, highly personal directorial debut: she plays Bernadette, the mother of Elza (the magnetic Stana Roumillac), a talented university graduate who breaks Bernadette’s heart when she decides to leave their Paris apartment to return to Guadeloupe, her birthplace. Elza’s voyage to this Caribbean island is motivated by her desire to seek out her father, whom she barely remembers. But this reunion requires particular sleuthing skills; one of the film’s many delights is its heroine’s Nancy Drew–like smarts and persistence. Posing as a baby-sitter for her unsuspecting father’s six-year-old granddaughter, Elza confronts ugly truths: Monsieur Désiré, as her philandering business-tycoon dad is known, despises those with skin darker than his own. His bigotry is all too painfully revealed when he later says to Elza, “With your kinky hair, you couldn’t be my daughter.” Monpierre’s film astutely works on two levels: as a searing melodrama uncovering the racial prejudices that still exist among formerly colonized peoples, and as a luxuriant, inspiring tale of one young woman’s quest to understand her past in one of the most beautiful places on earth.

“Bathed in the flamingo colors and Caribbean rhythms of its location, this deeply personal debut from the writer and director Mariette Monpierre develops with a lingering attention to sensation and sound.”
Jeannette Catsoulis, New York Times

DIRECTOR
Mariette Monpierre

SCREENPLAY
Mama Keïta, Mariette Monpierre

CAST
Elza: Stana Roumillac
Mr. Désiré: Vincent Byrd Le Sage
Bernard: Christophe Cherki
Mrs. Désiré: Sophie Berger
Caroline: Eva Constant

AWARDS
Best First Time Feature Director, Jury Award – Los Angeles Pan African Film Festival (2012). Paul Robeson Award – FESPACO (2013)

GENRE Drama
LANGUAGE French
RUNNING TIME 78’
PRODUCTION France, 2011
RATING Not Rated
FORMAT(S) Beta SP, Blu-ray, DVCam PAL, DVD, HDCam

DISTRIBUTOR
OverEasy Productions

LES BIENS-AIMES / BELOVED

SYNOPSIS
Writer-director Christophe Honoré revisits the musical—the genre of his charming hit Love Songs (2007)—in Beloved, an intricate weaving of multiple romantic triangles and world-changing milestones. Era-spanning (the film opens in 1963 and closes in 2007) and globe-hopping (scenes take place in Paris, Prague, London, and Montreal), the ambitious Beloved touches on several historical events during those forty-plus years, including the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, the AIDS pandemic, and September 11. At its core, though, the film boils down to the love lives of two women: Madeleine (played in her youth by Love Songs alumna Ludivine Sagnier and in her prime by Catherine Deneuve) and her daughter, Vera (Honoré regular Chiara Mastroianni, Deneuve’s real-life offspring). Each woman grapples with fidelity, commitment, and desire in ways that are achingly human and instantly recognizable. In the tradition of cinema’s greatest romantics, Honoré has written lyrics that poignantly express love’s thorniest complications: “I can live without you / But what kills me is that I can’t live without loving you.”

“Beloved cuts deep. Romances in contemporary French cinema are sometimes so tormented, so full of passionately whispered sweet nothings and ferocious copulation that they feel like navel-gazing self-parodies. Honoré, on the other hand, makes love—particularly the unrequited kind—seem like the most universal, sorrowful condition of all.”
Jon Frosch, The Atlantic

DIRECTOR
Christophe Honoré

SCREENPLAY
Christophe Honoré

CAST
Véra Passer: Chiara Mastroianni
Madeleine: Catherine Deneuve
Madeleine jeune: Ludivine Sagnier
Clément: Louis Garrel

GENRE Drama
LANGUAGE French, Czech, English
RUNNING TIME 139’
PRODUCTION France, UK, Czech Republic, 2011
RATING Not Rated
FORMAT(S) 35, Blu-ray, DCP, DVD

DISTRIBUTOR
IFC Films

BERLIN 1885: LA RUEE SUR L’AFRIQUE / BERLIN 1885: THE DIVISION OF AFRICA

SYNOPSIS
An exemplary documentary that exposes one of the most ignominious—and little-studied—events of the past 130 years, Joël Calmettes’s film chronicles the Berlin Conference on Africa. At this meeting, held at Chancellor Otto von Bismarck’s official residence in Berlin, the major European countries and the US divided up the vast continent for their own personal gain, setting in motion the ruinous colonization of Africa that continued for the next several decades. No Africans, as the movie sharply points out, were invited to participate in the proceedings that would so irrevocably, disastrously change the fate of their land. Plunging the viewers into you-are-there immediacy, Berlin 1885 includes several scenes of reenactments of this infamous conference, with actors, in period costume, speaking lines culled from actual transcripts and recently discovered archival documents. Augmenting these adroit re-creations are the insights of scholars and historians from around the world, each speaking lucidly about the implications of carving up Africa so that Western nations could exploit its vast resources.

“A film well carried through, with a rhythm given by the chapters and the addition of some very instructive perspectives (…) The fiction-documentary by Joël Calmettes, a moment of outstanding television, would perfectly find its place in numerous history classes in high school and college.”
Le Monde

DIRECTOR
Joël Calmettes

SCREENPLAY
Joël Calmettes

CAST
Otto von Bismarck: Jacques Spiesser
Baron de Courcel: Pierre-Loup Rajot
Comte de Hatzfeldt: Carlo Brandt
Sir Malet: Pierre Banderet
Docteur Ballay: Fabrice Michel

GENRE Docudrama
LANGUAGE French, German, English
RUNNING TIME 85’
PRODUCTION France, Belgium, Germany, 2010
RATING Not Rated
FORMAT(S) Digibeta, DVD

DISTRIBUTOR
Icarus Films

L’ASSAUT / THE ASSAULT

SYNOPSIS
Based on a real-life incident—the hijacking of a Paris-bound Air France flight from Algiers on Christmas Eve in 1994—this thriller, directed by Julien Leclercq, remains taut and tense from the first frame to the last. The hijackers, four men claiming membership in the Armed Islamic Group, demand the release of political prisoners in Algeria; in Paris, Carole Jeanton, an official in the French Interior Ministry, suspects that this quartet may have plans to crash the plane into the Eiffel Tower. Meanwhile, the GIGN, France’s paramilitary police force, rehearses its mission to thwart the terrorist plot. Expertly cutting between the chaos inside the plane, the nail-biting negotiations within government buildings, and the cold precision of the special-ops team at the staging ground, Leclercq also ratchets up the anxiety by including actual footage of the rescue operation, which was broadcast live on French television on December 26. More than 200 passengers were freed during this harrowing firefight, but the mission was not without multiple fatalities.

“The Assault, which builds to an almost unbearably vivid scene in which the assault squad goes to work, is so gripping and focused that it easily bests Hollywood movies with 50 times its budget. Leclercq is that rare French director who may find himself courted by big studios.”
Kyle Smith, New York Post

DIRECTOR
Julien Leclercq

SCREENPLAY
Simon Moutairou, Julien Leclercq. Based on the book The Assault by Roland Môntins & Gilles Cauture.

CAST
Thierry: Vincent Elbaz
Commandant Denis Favier: Grégory Derangère
Carole: Mélanie Bernier
Yahia: Aymen Saidi

GENRE Action
LANGUAGE French
RUNNING TIME 95’
PRODUCTION France, 2010
RATING Not Rated
FORMAT(S) Blu-ray, DigiBeta, DVD

DISTRIBUTOR
KMT Global Films

APRES MAI / SOMETHING IN THE AIR

SYNOPSIS
Set in the early 1970s, this bracing semi-autobiographical film from Olivier Assayas resists easy nostalgia, focusing instead on the turbulence of one’s late teens and early twenties. The writer-director’s surrogate is a high-school student named Gilles (played by terrific newcomer Clément Mettayer), who was born too late to take part in the insurrections of May ’68 but is still consumed with revolutionary zeal. Over the course of this exceptional coming-of-age tale, Gilles will become disenchanted with the political hair-splitting and inflexible positions of the far-left movements he has devoted himself to, eventually finding a new purpose in painting and cinema. Playing out against a backdrop of perfect period detail (particularly evident in the sound-track choices), Something in the Air is the rare film that skillfully operates on both a micro and macro level. While delving deeply into Gilles’s private dramas as he tries to define himself as an artist, Assayas never lets us forget that this richly drawn adolescent protagonist is also a player in a much broader historical moment: the era when revolutionary hopes began to splinter and fade.

“Made with the bittersweet clarity of hindsight and the assurance of a director in peak form… Conjuring the mood and attitudes of 1970s European counterculture with pinpoint detail and nary a shred of naive romanticism, this tender but dispassionate semi-autobiographical drama offers a gentle rebuke to the celebratory spirit of many post-’68 movies, capturing how political zeal gives way to confusion, compromise and a dawning sense of personal identity.”
Justin Chang, Variety

DIRECTOR
Olivier Assayas

SCREENPLAY
Olivier Assayas

CAST
Gilles: Clément Métayer
Christine: Lola Creton
Alain: Felix Armand
Laure: Carole Combes
Leslie: India Menuez

AWARDS
Golden Osella, Olivier Assayas – Venice Film Festival (2012)

GENRE Drama
LANGUAGE French, English, Italian
RUNNING TIME 122’
PRODUCTION France, 2012
RATING Not Rated
FORMAT(S) Blu-ray, DCP, DVD

DISTRIBUTOR
IFC Films

AMOUR

SYNOPSIS
A staggering, profound examination of love, Michael Haneke’s compassionate film centers on Georges and Anne, long-married octogenarians and retired music teachers who still take great delight in each other. Their bonds will be tested, however, as Anne grows increasingly debilitated, both mentally and physically. In depicting what has rarely been shown onscreen before—two elderly people struggling to maintain their dignity in the face of the unremitting cruelties of aging—Haneke brilliantly shows that the greatest crucible of life’s final chapter is figuring out how to best honor the past. Never sentimentalizing his two main characters, Haneke nonetheless portrays them tenderly; viewers grow deeply attached to Georges and Anne thanks to the astonishing performances by Trintignant and Riva. Both actors are legends of French cinema: he is best known for Eric Rohmer’s My Night at Maud’s (1969), and she for Alain Resnais’s Hiroshima, Mon Amour (1959). Watching these two icons, we are reminded of nothing less than our own mortality—and our own past and present relationships.

“Considering Haneke’s confrontational past, this poignantly acted uncommonly tender two-hander makes a doubly powerful statement about man’s capacity for dignity and sensitivity when confronted with the inevitable cruelty of nature.”
Peter Debruge, Variety

DIRECTOR
Michael Haneke

SCREENPLAY
Michael Haneke

CAST
Georges: Jean-Louis Trintignant
Anne: Emmanuelle Riva
Eva: Isabelle Huppert
Alexandre: Alexandre Tharaud
Geoff: William Shimell

AWARDS
Best Foreign Language Film – Academy Awards (2013); Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director, Best Film, Best Original Screenplay – César Awards (2013)

GENRE Drama
LANGUAGE French
RUNNING TIME 127’
PRODUCTION France, Germany, Austria, 2012
RATING PG-13
FORMAT(S) 35, Blu-ray, DCP, DVD

DISTRIBUTOR
Sony Pictures Classics