Category Archives: ALTERNATIVE SELECTION

AMERICANO

SYNOPSIS
The feature-length directorial debut of actor Mathieu Demy—the son of eminent filmmakers Jacques Demy and Agnès Varda—is both a touching homage to the oeuvre of his parents and a project that evinces his own promising vision. Demy plays Martin, a Parisian real estate agent in his late 30s. After he receives news of his mother’s death, he flies to Los Angeles, her home for the past several decades, to settle her affairs. As Martin heads to the States, he is flooded with memories about his childhood years living with Emilie in her Venice Beach bungalow—flashbacks that are culled directly from his own mother’s Documenteur (1981), a semiautobiographical film starring an eight-year-old Demy. Martin next sets out for Tijuana, where he is in search of a woman named Lola, to whom Emilie bequeathed her home. “Lola” is a name of great significance: it is the title of Jacques’s first film, from 1961, starring Anouk Aimée as a cabaret performer in Nantes; Lola/Aimée would reappear in the LA-set Model Shop (1968), Demy père’s only film made in the US. One of cinema’s most melancholic dreamers, the elder Demy (who died in 1990) transformed the simplest of emotions into epics. Mathieu follows suit in this impressive first film.

“Americano is thus something of a sequel, in which certain moods and implications of his mother’s film — the loneliness that can seem almost like a geographical fact of American life, the distance that can invade even the most intimate relationships — are revisited and revised. Though not explicitly autobiographical, this film is deeply personal, and while the nature of cinema is very much on its mind, it rarely feels insular or self-conscious. Instead, it is wistful and nostalgic, and at the same time full of restless curiosity.”
A.O. Scott, New York Times

DIRECTOR
Mathieu Demy

SCREENPLAY
Mathieu Demy

CAST
Martin: Mathieu Demy
Linda: Geraldine Chaplin
Claire: Chiara Mastroianni
Luis: Carlos Bardem
‘Lola’: Salma Hayek

GENRE Drama
LANGUAGE French, Spanish, English
RUNNING TIME 90’
PRODUCTION France, 2011
RATING Not Rated
FORMAT(S) 35, Blu-ray

DISTRIBUTOR
MPI Pictures

ALIYAH

SYNOPSIS
The title of Elie Wajeman’s striking first film refers to the immigration of Jews to Israel; it is there that hashish dealer Alex Raphaelson, currently living in a gritty section of Paris, hopes to start over by helping a cousin open up a restaurant in Tel Aviv. But many obstacles face Alex as he prepares for this voyage—primarily his burdensome older brother, Isaac (Cédric Kahn, a talented writer-director making a rare appearance in front of the camera), who constantly leans on his sibling for money. In between Hebrew lessons, Alex, drained of his funds by his needy, manipulative brother, begins selling harder drugs—which places him at the mercy of extremely dangerous men— to pay for his trip to Israel. Complicating his departure further, Alex falls in love with Jeanne, a fiercely intelligent, independent graduate student. Wajeman’s debut powerfully lays bare the onerous pull of family ties and intelligently questions whether, in relocating thousands of miles away and starting anew, we can ever really escape ourselves.

“Aliyah quickly turns away from American mythology in order to build an uneasy and sensitive portrait of a young man whose departure to Israel (“a lame country like me” he says) seems less of a solution to his problems and more like stepping out of the fire into the frying-pan, which is politically quite incorrect.”
Romain Blondeau, Les Inrockuptibles

DIRECTOR
Elie Wajeman

SCREENPLAY
Gaëlle Macé, Elie Wajeman

CAST
Alex Raphaelson: Pio Marmaï
Isaac Raphaelson: Cédric Kahn
Jeanne: Adèle Haenel
Mathias: Guillaume Gouix

GENRE Drama
LANGUAGE French
RUNNING TIME 90’
PRODUCTION France, 2012
RATING Not Rated
FORMAT(S) 35, Blu-ray, DCP, DVD

DISTRIBUTOR
Film Movement

LES ADIEUX A LA REINE / FAREWELL, MY QUEEN

SYNOPSIS
Benoît Jacquot’s nimble, lush adaptation of Chantal Thomas’s 2003 novel about the chaos at Versailles on the eve of the 1789 revolution is told not through the vantage point of the monarchs but through the eyes of Sidonie, the besotted reader to Marie Antoinette. Compressed to four tumultuous days (July 14–17) and taking place almost entirely within the actual royal palace, Farewell, My Queen tracks its protagonist relentlessly: The camera is often positioned just a few inches behind Sidonie as she scrambles down corridors, sometimes tripping, as she tries to make sense of the rumors she hears among other courtiers and rushes to read a few pages of Rousseau to Her Majesty. “Your love of the queen makes you blind to her caprice,” one of Louis XVI’s historians tells Sidonie—and the pleasure of Jacquot’s film is in watching various strains of discreet yet heated, deluded passionate attachment performed. Itchy Sidonie may thrill, however demurely, to the queen’s applying rosewood water to her mosquito bites, but she will seethe in silent jealousy as she watches, unnoticed, Marie Antoinette interlace fingers with and coo over her most prized pet, Gabrielle de Polignac—who makes la reine lose her mind before she loses her head.

“Benoit Jacquot is without equal when it comes to transforming this small Machiavellian theatre of desire and digression into a palpitating and graceful stage show; this time he successfully achieves to project this small theatre into chaotic and sweeping scenery. The outcome is dramatic.”
Jean-Marc Lalanne, Les Inrockuptibles

DIRECTOR
Benoît Jacquot

SCREENPLAY
Benoît Jacquot, Gilles Taurand.
Based on the novel Les Adieux à la Reine by Chantal Thomas.

CAST
Marie Antoinette: 
Diane Kruger
Agathe-Sidonie Laborde: 
Léa Seydoux
Gabrielle de Polignac: 
Virginie Ledoyen
Louis XVI: Xavier Beauvois

AWARDS
Best Film – Prix Louis Delluc (2012)

GENRE Drama
LANGUAGE French
RUNNING TIME 100′
PRODUCTION France, Spain 2012
RATING Rated R
FORMAT(S) 35, DVD

DISTRIBUTOR
Swank Motion Pictures

UNE VIE DE CHAT / A CAT IN PARIS

SYNOPSIS
With a visual style that recalls Matisse and a flair for suspense reminiscent of Hitchcock, Jean-Loup Felicioli and Alain Gagnol’s exhilarating handdrawn animated film tells the story of a cat with not nine but two lives. During the day, kitty Dino lives with Zoe, a mute little girl whose mother works as a detective for the Parisian police. At night, Dino becomes the accomplice of Nico, a good-hearted burglar who leaps from rooftop to rooftop with balletic grace. The sly cat’s double life is exposed when Zoe decides to see what her beloved feline does after dark—an escapade that leads her into the clutches of the gangster who murdered her father. Dino and Nico—the cat and the cat burglar—join forces to save the young girl, a heroic act that culminates at the top of Notre Dame. A Cat in Paris is a delightful homage to French policiers, with a four-legged star destined to be remembered as one of cinema’s most charismatic felines.

“Animators Jean-Loup Felicioni and Alain Gagnol draw inspiration from Expressionist painters to give their short but not-too-sweet animation its distinctive fluid style, with its light and shade perfectly matching the night-time skyline where much of the action is set. Movement is everywhere, from the shadows playing on the characters’ faces to the grace with which they move through the city of Paris.”
Amber Wilkinson, Eye for Film.

DIRECTOR
Jean-Loup Felicioli & Alain Gagnol

SCREENPLAY
Alain Gagnol & Jacques-Rémy Girerd

CAST
Jeanne: Dominique Blanc
Nico: Bruno Salomone
Victor Costa: Jean Benguigui
Zoé’s Nanny: Bernadette Lafont
Zoé: Oriane Zani

GENRE Animation
LANGUAGE French
RUNNING TIME 70’
PRODUCTION France, 2010
RATING Not Rated
FORMAT(S) DCP, HDCam, Blu-ray, DVD

DISTRIBUTOR
GKids

UN AMOUR DE JEUNESSE / GOODBYE FIRST LOVE

SYNOPSIS
In her exceptional third feature, writer-director Mia Hansen-Løve shows, as she did in her previous film, The Father of My Children (2009), her talent for capturing the agony and the ecstasy of adolescence. Besotted teenagers Sullivan and Camille struggle, as all couples must, with a painful push-pull dynamic, heightened by the decision of the young man—who’s not quite ready to commit—to leave Paris and travel in South America. Over the course of eight years, we watch Camille, initially devastated by her boyfriend’s departure, emerge with new passions, intellectual and otherwise. As a heartbroken 15-year-old, Camille spirals into a paralyzing depression; gradually she grows stronger, discovering an avid interest in architecture, which she studies with an older professor who becomes her lover. Touchingly illuminating the indelible imprint that first romance leaves, Hansen-Løve’s film also explores the hard-won satisfaction of leaving the past behind.

“Rising auteur Mia Hansen-Løve (“Father of My Children”) delivers another smoothly helmed slice of Gallic life in the decade-spanning romantic drama, “Goodbye First Love”. The film offers up the sort of casual, insightful and at times sexually candid storytelling that, if it wasn’t necessarily invented in France, has definitely become one the nation’s more prized genres. “Goodbye First Love”– whose subtler originallanguage title translates to “A Young Love” – shows how well Hansen-Løve can provide the type of sensitive, seemingly nonchalant filmmaking that was perfected by the late Eric Rohmer.”
Jordan Mintzer, Hollywood Reporter.

DIRECTOR
Mia Hansen-Løve

SCREENPLAY
Mia Hansen-Løve

CAST
Camille: Lola Créton
Sullivan: Sebastian Urzendowsky
Lorenz: Magne Håvard Brekke

AWARDS
Special Mention – Locarno International Film Festival (2011)

GENRE Drama
LANGUAGE French
RUNNING TIME 110’
PRODUCTION France, Germany, 2010
RATING Not Rated
FORMAT(S) 35mm, Blu-ray, DVD

DISTRIBUTOR
Sundance Selects

THE ARTIST

SYNOPSIS
A delightful homage to silent-era Hollywood, Michel Hazanavicius’s mostly silent film, opens in 1927, when preening matinee idol George Valentin, is still the top draw at Kinograph Studios. Ignoring the increasingly icy glares his wife aims at him across the breakfast table, George acts as a mentor to Peppy Miller, a chorus girl with big ambitions. The Artist tracks both Peppy’s ascent (through amusing montage) and George’s decline as he refuses to acknowledge synchronized-sound as more than a passing fad. By 1932, Peppy is attracting lines around the block for her latest, Beauty Spot, while George spends his afternoons passed out on a barroom floor, his Jack Russell terrier his sole remaining fan. Or so the fading star thinks: Peppy’s never forgotten him, and the film’s concluding act is one of the most buoyant in recent memory. The movie pivots on the spry connection between Dujardin and Bejo, both nimble performers and elegantly turned out in period finery and pomade. The Artist, which was shot at 22 frames per second and utilizes the boxy 1:33 aspect ratio, also expertly deploys many of the technical aspects of the silent period.

“The passing of the silent era from memory into myth is what “The Artist,” Michel Hazanavicius’s dazzling cinematic objet d’art, is all about. This is not a work of film history but rather a generous, touching and slightly daffy expression of unbridled movie love. Though its protagonist mourns the arrival of sound, “The Artist” itself is more interested in celebrating the range and power of a medium that can sparkle, swoon and suffer so beautifully that it doesn’t really need to have anything to say…”
A. O. Scott, The New York Times.

DIRECTOR
Michel Hazanavicius

SCREENPLAY
Michel Hazanavicius

CAST
George Valentin: Jean Dujardin
Peppy Miller: Bérénice Bejo
Al Zimmer: John Goodman
Clifton: James Cromwell

AWARDS
Best Motion Picture; Best Director – Academy Awards (2012), Best Actor, Jean
Dujardin – Cannes Film Festival (2011), Best Actress, Bérénice Bejo – César Awards (2012)

GENRE Comedy, Drama
LANGUAGE English, French
RUNNING TIME 100’
PRODUCTION Belgium, France, 2011
RATING Rated PG-13
FORMAT(S) 35mm, DCP, DVD

DISTRIBUTOR
Swank Motion Pictures

LA PRINCESSE DE MONTPENSIER / THE PRINCESS OF MONTPENSIER

SYNOPSIS
Based on the 1622 novel of the same name by Madame de Lafayette, Bertrand Tavernier’s supple, gripping historical epic unfolds during the French Wars of Religion (1562–98), which pitted Catholics against Protestants and ravaged the nation. The film centers on Marie de Mézières, who, though in love with one man, the Duke de Guise, is married off by her politically calculating father to the Prince of Montpensier, whose own father proves just as scheming. Even more men pine for the great beauty: the Duke d’Anjou and the Count de Chabannes, the prince’s former tutor, who watches over Marie when her husband is called to fight. Matching the intensity of the stunning battles fought on vast hillsides are the more intimate struggles and interpersonal clashes taking place behind closed castle doors: between headstrong Marie and her father, between the rivals for her affection—and, most touchingly, between the gentle Count de Chabannes, a man of God, and the barbarity of the world.

“Like the country itself (“la France,” a feminine word), Marie de Mézières is contested territory in a conflict that has Roman Catholic fights Protestant on the battlefield, and cousin fights cousin in the bedroom, Mr. Tavernier brings to life with racing cameras, sweeping vistas, lofty words, bawdy deeds and some hard truths. Like an action painter, Mr. Tavernier likes big, bold gestures, and he regularly fills the screen with slashes of exciting motion, the galloping horses streaking across the image with the camera in pursuit.”
Manohla Dargis, The New York Times.

DIRECTOR
Bertrand Tavernier

SCREENPLAY
Jean Cosmos, François-Olivier Rousseau & Bertrand Tavernier.

CAST
Princesse Marie de Montpensier: Mélanie Thierry
Comte de Chabannes: Lambert Wilson
Prince de Montpensier: Grégoire Leprince-Ringuet
Henri de Guise: Gaspard Ulliel
Duc d’Anjou: Raphaël Personnaz

AWARDS
Best Costume Design, Caroline de Vivaise – César Awards (2011)

GENRE Drama
LANGUAGE French
RUNNING TIME 139’
PRODUCTION France, Germany, 2010
RATING Not Rated
FORMATS(S) 35mm, Blu-ray, DVD

DISTRIBUTOR
IFC Films

NANNERL, LA SOEUR DE MOZART / MOZART’S SISTER

SYNOPSIS
Opening at the end of a music tour in 1763, René Féret’s assured biopic poignantly relays the little-known story of Nannerl Mozart (Marie Féret, the director’s daughter), born in 1751, five years before her little brother, Wolfgang. A musical prodigy just like her younger sibling, Nannerl— a gifted pianist, harpsichordist, and singer—is soon overshadowed by Wolfgang’s increasing fame. Her father, who has strictly but lovingly overseen his children’s musical careers, succumbs to the social codes of the 18th century and refuses to let his talented daughter continue studying the violin or compose; she is consigned to be Wolfgang’s accompanist. Though she protests against such unjust treatment, she has little choice but to comply. Yet Nannerl can temporarily forget her subordinate station while in the company of two unusual friends: Louise de France (Lisa Féret, another one of the director’s children) and her brother, the Dauphin. An intimate look at a singular family, Mozart’s Sister restores the glory and accomplishments of a young woman who’s been little more than a footnote in history.

“Mr. Féret, an actor turned filmmaker (he shows up here as a music professor), keeps the scale of his film intimate, its mood quiet, the performances restrained. The costumes and sets are attractive without being fussily art-directed, and the dialogue flows out of the everyday business of life on the road, with the itinerant brood forced to bed down wherever they can.”
Manohla Dargis, The New York Times.

DIRECTOR
René Féret

SCREENPLAY
René Féret

CAST
Nannerl Mozart: Marie Féret
Léopold Mozart: Marc Barbé
Anna-Maria Mozart: Delphine Chuillot
Wolfgang Mozart:David Moreau
Le Dauphin: Clovis Fouin

GENRE Drama
LANGUAGE French
RUNNING TIME 120’
PRODUCTION France, Portugal, 2010
RATING Not Rated
FORMAT(S) 35mm, DVD

DISTRIBUTOR
Music Box Films

MYSTERES DE LISBONNE / MYSTERIES OF LISBON

SYNOPSIS
This majestic, magisterial film from Chilean-born maestro Raúl Ruiz is based on a labyrinthine, three-volume 19th century Portuguese novel by Camilo Castilo Branco. With its multitude of characters, Mysteries of Lisbon stretches across at least three different generations and, though set primarily in the capital city of the title, travels to multiple countries. The film is bookended by the voice-over of a character named Pedro da Silva—who, as a 14-year-old, goes by the name João. This young man serves as our guide in this multilayered, endlessly inventive movie: Believing himself to be an orphan, João soon discovers that he’s the son of a countess. This revelation leads to several other connections and mysteries to be unraveled, often involving one character’s memories nestled inside another’s. Mysteries of Lisbon, which begins as the story of one boy’s quest to discover his true origins, expands to include the reminiscences of legions. Much like Ruiz’s Time Regained (1999), a superb adaptation of the last volume of Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time, Mysteries of Lisbon nimbly shifts from one perspective to the next, as the past and the present melt into one fluid time.

“Shooting in digital, Mr. Ruiz makes his way fluidly through this unusual bildungsroman, which in less able hands could easily have transformed into a confusing narrative thicket. But there’s a lightness of touch here, despite the sometimes heavier moments, that extends from the prowling camera to the way Mr. Ruiz nestles one character’s memory inside other memories. As in “Vertigo,” the past in “Mysteries of Lisbon” doesn’t remain past but spirals into the present, overwhelming it to the point that Pedro — as his story is repeatedly overtaken — becomes a near-footnote in his own life, as is true of us all.”
Manohla Dargis, The New York Times.

DIRECTOR
Raúl Ruiz

SCREENPLAY
Carlos Saboga. Based on the novel by Camilo Castelo Branco.

CAST
Padre Dinis & Sabino Cabra & Sebastião de Melo: Adriano Luz
Ângela de Lima: Maria João Bastos
Elisa de Montfort: Clotilde Hesme
Pedro da Silva Adulto: José Afonso Pimentel

AWARDS
Best Film – Prix Louis Delluc (2010)

GENRE Drama
LANGUAGE Portuguese, French
RUNNING TIME 257’
PRODUCTION France, Portugal, 2010
RATING Not Rated
FORMAT(S) DVD, Blu-ray

DISTRIBUTOR
Music Box Films

MOI, PETITE FILLE DE 13 ANS / AS A YOUNG GIRL OF 13

SYNOPSIS
In this essential documentary, the eloquent and commanding Simone Lagrange recalls, with astonishing detail, the horrors of the Holocaust and her indispensable role in bringing Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie to justice. Born in 1930 in Saint-Fons, Lagrange, whose family was involved in the Resistance, recounts fiercely defying an anti-Semitic teacher; her unyielding courage would later save her life in Auschwitz. Composed of a lengthy interview with Lagrange interspersed with archival footage (and a recent speaking engagement in a classroom), As a Young Girl of 13 features a subject who recalls the most unspeakable acts of barbarity with clear-eyed acuity. Of her first meeting with Barbie—a.k.a. the “Butcher of Lyon”—Lagrange shares the incongruous image of this brutal SS officer stroking a cat. It is precisely Lagrange’s razor-sharp memory for details that proves crucial in identifying Barbie more than 40 years later, when he was extradited to France after decades of living under an alias in South America. Footage of Lagrange testifying at Barbie’s trial in 1987—asserting that he is, without a doubt, the man who tortured her—stands as the most riveting moment in this unforgettable film about a most formidable woman.

“‘I have not become what they wanted me to be,” she often tells teen-agers that gather to listen to her account. The strength of her words reflect the thirteen-yearold she was, as do her characteristic revolt and tenacity. By its very subjectivity, the innermost experience at the heart of each survivor’s testimony, makes it unique and irreplaceable.”
Andana Films distribution company

DIRECTORS
Elisabeth Coronel, Florence Gaillard & Arnaud de Mezamat

PARTICIPANT
Simone Lagrange

GENRE Documentary
LANGUAGE French
RUNNING TIME 88’
PRODUCTION France, 2010
RATING Not Rated
FORMAT(S) DVD, Digibeta

DISTRIBUTOR
Icarus Films