Category Archives: FEATURED SELECTION

VIVRE RICHE

For anyone who has ever received an e-mail sent from an unknown
African correspondent promising love or riches, this fly-on-the-wall
documentary about young internet scammers in Abidjan is as enlightening
as it is provocative. The film follows Rolex the Portuguese,
an ambitious smooth talker who has recently returned to his home
in Ivory Coast after trying and failing to strike it rich in neighboring
Burkina Faso. Rolex and his buddies spend their days huddled around
laptop screens, trying to lure European women into online relationships
in hopes of scamming them out of their money. Director Joël
Akafou follows these young men from the stripped-down rooms where
they operate their scams to their family homes and the nightclubs of
Abidjan, creating a fascinating portrait of a resourceful and scrappy,
fun-loving and money-mad set of young Ivorians. But his film also
raises thorny questions about the European colonial legacy and the
moral compass of a young generation with few opportunities: while
Rolex and his friends justify their scams as a way of collecting on the
European debt to former colonies, their elders encourage them to
find salvation in religion. In true direct cinema style, Akafou delivers
no judgment, relying instead on the immediacy of his filmmaking to
create a tension between empathy and aversion.

DIRECTOR
Joël Akafou

DETAILS
Documentary
French & Dyula
54 min. (26 min. per episode)
France, Belgium, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, 2017
DVD, HD mp4, Blu-Ray

DISTRIBUTOR
Torch Films

PRICE RANGE
$295-$595

MRS. HYDE

This loose adaptation of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
transplants Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic tale to a high school in
a tough Paris suburb and infuses it with a surprising mix of B-movie
chills, dry humor, and contemporary reality. Isabelle Huppert stars as
the meek but devoted physics teacher Mme. Géquil, a helpless idealist
who undergoes an explosive transformation after being struck by
lightning in her makeshift lab. The ensuing drama confirms writer-director
Serge Bozon’s position as one of the most idiosyncratic talents
in the contemporary French cinema, a filmmaker one might describe
as a brilliant polymath whose fluency in classic film allows him to
elegantly juggle comedic and dramatic elements in service of a tone
that is uniquely his, both passionate and caustic, poetic and quotidian,
contemporary and in the tradition of the great genre pictures of the
past. While Mrs. Hyde provides an unflinching, at time uncomfortable
view of the challenges currently facing the French nation and its
school system, its most powerful aspect may lie in its earnest belief
in the power of education: indeed, this is a film that manages to turn a
geometry lesson into a thrilling, profoundly moving cinematic moment.

DIRECTOR
Serge Bozon

SCREENPLAY
Serge Bozon

CAST
Isabelle Huppert
Romain Duris
Jose Garcia

DETAILS
Comedy, Drama, Sci Fi
French
95 min.
France, 2017
DCP, Blu-Ray

DISTRIBUTOR
Metrograph / Cartilage

PRICE RANGE
$300

HIGH LIFE

You could be forgiven for thinking that the great Claire Denis chose to
cash in on her immaculate artistic credibility and cater to box office
demand with this English-language science fiction film starring the
bona fide megastar Robert Pattinson. But you would be wrong. High
Life is as weird and wonderful a film as Claire Denis has made in
years, and while it is indeed a dystopian space tale, its core is the
messy human stuff that Denis has always been so good at examining:
the relationship between a father and his infant daughter, the complicated
allegiances formed by sexual attraction, the taboos that make
us human. Pattinson stars as Monte, a galactic vagabond floating in a
space ship alone with his daughter, years after he and several death
row inmates were allowed to save their lives by agreeing to embark
on a one-way exploratory mission into a distant galaxy. A fragmentary
flashback structure reveals the conflicts, experiments, and unanticipated
relationship that led to the deaths of the other reluctant astronauts
and the birth of Monte’s daughter. Aided by stunning production
design by leading visual artist Olafur Eliasson, Denis creates a mood
that is both ominous and surprisingly tender, proving once again that
her trademark is the unexpected.

DIRECTOR
Claire Denis

SCREENPLAY
Claire Denis
Jean-Pol Fargeau

CAST
Robert Pattinson
Juliette Binoche
Mia Goth
André Benjamin

DETAILS
Sci-Fi, Thriller, Drama
English
113 min.
Germany, France, USA, UK,
Poland, 2019
DCP, Blu-Ray

DISTRIBUTOR
A24

PRICE RANGE
$500–$750

A FAITHFUL MAN

Abel is leaving home for work one morning when his live-in partner
Marianne stops him with a surprising news flash in three parts: she is
pregnant, the father is Abel’s friend Paul, and she and Paul are getting
married in ten days. Flash forward ten years and Abel catches sight of
Marianne at Paul’s funeral. The couple reunite, which is where trouble
begins: Marianne’s son Joseph does not want to share her attentions
with anyone and sets about convincing Abel that Marianne killed Paul.
Meanwhile, Paul’s little sister Eve has blossomed into a beautiful
young woman and is determined to woo Abel. With his charming
second feature as a director, the actor Louis Garrel establishes
himself as a worthy heir to the François Truffaut of the Doinel cycle of
Parisian entertainments, smuggling a layer of disquiet and genuine
eccentricity under a fizzy sheen of romantic comedy. Co-written by
Jean-Claude Carrière—the supreme iconoclast behind the late films
of Luis Buñuel—A Faithful Man is delightfully fast and brief but lingers
in the memory through its peculiar details, its oddball narrative turns,
and career-best performances by Louis Garrel as Abel and his real-life
partner Laetitia Casta as Marianne.

DIRECTOR
Louis Garrel

SCREENPLAY
Jean-Claude Carriere
Louis Garrel

CAST
Laetitia Casta
Louis Garrel
Lily-Rose Depp

DETAILS
Romance/Drama
French with English subtitles
75 min.
France, 2018
DVD, Blu-Ray

DISTRIBUTOR
Kino Lorber, Inc.

PRICE RANGE
$400

BARBARA

This passion project initiated by the inimitable Jeanne Balibar is inspired
by Barbara, an under-appreciated figure in the English-speaking
world, but possibly the best-loved chanteuse to follow in the wake
of Edith Piaf. As a singer-songwriter, Barbara brought a dark lyricism
to French airwaves, reaching millions of listeners through her music
and her outspoken activism, notably during the outbreak of the AIDS
crisis. Fittingly for such a genre-defying artist, this film inspired by
her life and music is anything but a traditional biopic: writer-director
Mathieu Amalric wisely avoids the pitfalls of that staid format through
a fragmented, comically meta approach. Barbara, the film, follows
the travails of Brigitte, an actress cast to play the lead in a biopic of
Barbara under the direction of the oddball Yves Zand (played with
gusto by Amalric). As the actress and the character gradually begin
to merge, the border between real life and film starts to blur. This
musical love letter to performers and cinema is as much a dazzling
tribute to Jeanne Balibar’s unique acting—she received the 2018 Best
Actress César for her performance as Brigitte/Barbara—as it is to the
melancholy genius of Barbara.

DIRECTOR
Mathieu Amalric

SCREENPLAY
Mathieu Amalric
Philippe Di Folco

CAST
Jeanne Balibar
Mathieu Amalric
Aurore Clement
Vincent Peirani

DETAILS
Drama
French
97 min.
2017
DCP and Apple Prores
HQ HD

DISTRIBUTOR
Gaumont

PRICE RANGE
Please contact
sales@gaumont.com

MEMOIR OF WAR

In 1985, the preeminent French writer Marguerite Duras made headlines
by publishing La Douleur, an autobiographical work about her life
under the Nazi Occupation and during the Liberation of Paris, notably
focused on the frenzied months she spent waiting for news of her husband
Robert Antelme’s return from a concentration camp in Germany.
More than thirty years later, writer-director Emmanuel Finkiel rises to
the challenge of adapting this instant though controversial classic to
the screen by being faithful to Duras both as a writer and as a person.
Finkiel honors Duras’s writing by propelling the story with a voiceover
intelligently crafted from her own words. As for Duras the person, she
is brought to life in a magnetically raw performance by Mélanie Thierry,
one of the French cinema’s most honest, powerful performers.
Finkiel designs his mise-en-scène around her presence, privileging
her perspective and sensations through a masterful use of focus (and
lack of it). Far from just another movie about the Occupation and its
legacy, A Memoir of War is a rare opportunity to see and feel through
the eyes not only of a genius but a woman who was immersed in the
historical tumult of her time.

DIRECTOR
Emmanuel Finkiel

SCREENPLAY
Emmanuel Finkiel

CAST
Mélanie Thierry
Benoît Magimel
Benjamin Biolay
Shulamit Adar
Grégoire Leprince-Ringuet
Emmanuel Bourdieu

DETAILS
Drama
French with English subtitles
127 min.
France, 2018
DCP, DVD, Blu-Ray

DISTRIBUTOR
Music Box Films

PRICE RANGE
$200-$350

SHOAH: FOUR SISTERS

The late Claude Lanzmann’s towering documentary film Shoah, an examination of the Nazi extermination of Eastern European Jews, is that rare film both to have defined our understanding of a historical period and to have set a formal model for how to deal with the unthinkable in cinematic terms. Over the eleven years that he was making Shoah, Lanzmann conducted interviews with many witnesses who were not included in the final cut and whose testimony was used as the material for later films focusing on specific aspects of the Holocaust. His last film Four Sisters consists of self-standing interviews with four Eastern European Jewish women who survived the deportation: Ruth Elias, who gave birth in Auschwitz under the supervision of the perverse Doctor Mengele; Ada Lichtman, one of three survivors of a convoy of 7000 Jews to the Sobibór extermination camp; Hanna Marton, one of 1600 “privileged” Jews to have been transported from Bergen-Belsen to Switzerland in view of Palestine. In a time of rising anti-Semitism and generalized outbursts of intolerance, the eyewitness accounts to atrocity in Four Sisters are simply essential viewing, as a way to understand both the past and the present—the film’s great underlying theme is the foundation of Israel—and to arm ourselves for a better future.

DIRECTOR
Claude Lanzmann

CAST
Ruth Elias
Paula Biren
Ada Lichtman
Hannah Marton

DETAILS
Documentary
French, German, English,
Hebrew
273 min.
France, Israel, 1970
DCP, Blu-Ray

DISTRIBUTOR
Cohen Media Group

PRICE RANGE
Varies

THE COMPETITION

Each year, hundreds of aspiring filmmakers from across France
congregate in an auditorium in Paris to take the first of three rounds of
the highly competitive admission exam to La Fémis, France’s leading
film school. In Le Concours, master documentarian Claire Simon
follows each step of the process, from that auditorium full of young
hopefuls gathered to write a sequence analysis that will serve as the
first test of their eligibility to the group photo of the forty candidates
ultimately selected. Along the way, Simon shows us the exam’s practical
stage— prospective directors direct a scene, screenwriters pitch
a story, designers show sketches—and the oral examinations in which
candidates having reached the final round face a jury of sometimes illustrious
professionals. As a former professor at La Fémis, Simon may
be an insider, but she pulls no punches. Indeed, while Le Concours is
full of suspense, comedy, and human drama, it is also a cutting work
of institutional ethnography: in capturing the juries’ deliberations,
Simon exposes the process of gatekeeping at an elite institution, one
that intrinsically favors those with certain sociocultural backgrounds,
leading to the extreme lack of diversity reflected in that group photo of
future students.

DIRECTOR
Claire Simon

SCREENPLAY
Claire Simon

CAST
Alain Bergala
Xanae Bove
Emmanuel Chaumet
Claire Childeric
Michael Dacheux
Joel Danet
Emilie Deleuze

DETAILS
Documentary
French
121 min.
France, 2016
DCP, Blu-Ray

DISTRIBUTOR
Metrograph Pictures

PRICE RANGE
$300

WILD BOYS

One of the boldest aesthetic statements in recent French cinema,
Wild Boys is a gender-bending, influence-scrambling adventure tale
about five teenage miscreants sent on a boat journey with a mysterious
Dutch captain who has promised to bring them back to their
parents as obedient boys—or not at all. What the Captain hasn’t mentioned
is that his innovative therapy relies on a visit to an island where
the earth opens up to envelop humans in its warm grasp, where trees
reach out to kiss or kill you, and where males transform into females.
Boldly going against the prevailing winds of naturalist cinema, self-described
queer filmmaker Bertrand Mandico cast five of France’s most
talented young actresses to play the boys and immersed them in a
seamless blend of luxuriant island locations and unabashedly artificial
sets, creating a manifesto for narrative and aesthetic freedom in which
a slew of influences (Joseph Von Sternberg, R.L. Stevenson, Jean
Genet, Raúl Ruiz, Kenneth Anger) add up to a film unlike anything
we’ve seen before. Shot on gorgeous 35 mm black and white film with
occasional bursts of dazzling color, Wild Boys is a potent reminder
that the radical power of art begins in the formal gesture.

DIRECTOR
Bertrand Mandico

SCREENPLAY
Bertrand Mandico

CAST
Pauline Lorillard
Vimala Pons
Diane Rouxel
Anaël Snoek
Mathilde Warnier
Sam Louwyck
Elina Löwensohn

DETAILS
Fantasy, LGBTQ
French, English
110 min.
France, 2017
DCP, DVD, Blu-Ray

DISTRIBUTOR
Altered Innocence

PRICE RANGE
$300-400

THE IMAGE BOOK

At 87 years old, Jean-Luc Godard continues to break new ground, both
formally and intellectually, delivering a film at once so daring and so
generous that it makes the vast majority of today’s cinema seem terribly
old-fashioned and remote. For those who know Godard’s work, The
Image Book begins on familiar ground, with breathtaking associations
between images from classic films and news footage creating a vision
of a world in crisis and a meditation on cinema’s relationship to history.
Then Godard goes where we have never seen him go before, editing
together dozens of clips from films made in the Arab world to depict
this region so often plagued by reductive or sensationalistic reporting
not as a hell on earth but a paradise lost. The film ends with nothing
less than a call to revolution, an appeal no longer tinged with the
violence and radical rhetoric of Godard’s long-ago Maoist period, but
a profoundly humane hope for the future. The emotional punch of this
gentle, lucid ultimatum articulated by the master himself is magnified
by the fact that it is spoken in the raspy voice of a frail old man.

DIRECTOR
Jean-Luc Godard

SCREENPLAY
Jean-Luc Godard

CAST
Jean-Luc Godard

DETAILS
Experimental Documentary
French with English subtitles
84 min.
Switzerland, 2018
DVD, Blu-Ray

DISTRIBUTOR
Kino Lorber, Inc.

PRICE RANGE
$400