Category Archives: FEATURED SELECTION

Quand on a 17 ans / Being 17

With Being 17, the great French writer-director André Téchiné returns to
the subject matter of his masterpiece Wild Reeds, a 1994 feature about the
sexual awakening of a handful of teenagers in the rural southwest of France
during the Algerian war, and a landmark in the representation of gay youth in
French cinema. In this new film, the time is the present and the setting the
majestic landscape of the Pyrenees. Seventeen-year-old Damien lives alone
with his mother, a doctor, while his father is deployed overseas with the French
army. At school, he is a good student but an outsider. He is frequently bullied
by Thomas, a biracial boy who must commute several hours a day from his
adoptive family’s remote farm high in the mountains. When Damien’s mother
meets Thomas through an emergency house-call to his mother, she discovers
the hardships the boy must face to go to school and eventually invites him to
move in with her family to be close to the classroom. The relationship between
Damien and Thomas only gets worse and the two boys soon come to blows.
Yet as both their families face major upheavals, Damien realizes he is in love
with Thomas. With Being 17, Téchiné has made his best film in years, returning
to his winning mix of subtly observed naturalism and narrative developments
worthy of the great melodramas to give us another memorable depiction of
the trials and triumphs of coming of age and coming out.

DIRECTOR
André Téchiné

SCREENPLAY
Céline Sciamma & André Téchiné

CAST
Sandrine Kiberlain
Kacey Mottet Klein
Corentin Fila

DETAILS
Drama / LGBT
French
116 min.
France, 2016
Blu-Ray, DCP, DVD

DISTRIBUTOR
Strand Releasing

PRICE RANGE
$250 – $400 depending on size of
screening and format

Ma vie de courgette / My Life as a Zucchini

Though bravely realistic, Swiss director Claude Barras’s charming stopmotion
animated film is an unexpectedly uplifting look at childhood tragedy.
After his alcoholic mother’s death, nine-year-old Icare—known to his friends
as Zucchini—is placed in a group home where he soon forms alliances and
rivalries with a group of kids in equally difficult circumstances, including the
son of drug addicts and the daughter of a deported refugee. But it takes the
arrival of the recently orphaned Camille for Zuchini to know he has found a
friend for life. Which means that when Camille’s nasty aunt appears to take
her away, the kids band together to find a way to keep her at the home. Though
Barras and screenwriter Céline Sciamma (a powerhouse of contemporary
French cinema as the writer/director of international hit Girlhood) never pull
punches in describing the challenges faced by their characters, My Life as a
Zucchini is imbued with a real-life sense of childhood wonder, both through its
inventive animation and its commitment to exclusively telling the story from
the children’s perspective. The result is a marvelously nuanced, finely crafted
depiction of childhood, as appealing to young people as adults. Following a
triumphant premiere at the Director’s Fortnight at the Cannes Film Festival,
My Life as a Zucchini wooed general audiences in France with its idiosyncratic
style and bold treatment of its subject. It has since been nominated for a 2017
Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.

DIRECTOR
Claude Barras

SCREENPLAY
Céline Sciamma
CAST (Voices)

FRENCH Version:
Gaspard Schlatter
Sixtine Murate
Paulin Jaccoud
Michel Vuillermoz

ENGLISH Version:
Will Forte
Nick Offerman
Ellen Page
Amy Sedaris

DETAILS
Coming-of-Age, Animation, Family
French
68 min.
France, Switzerland, 2016
Blu-Ray, DCP

DISTRIBUTOR
GKIDS

PRICE RANGE
$300

Marguerite

Marguerite Dumont is an incredibly wealthy woman who has devoted her
life to singing opera. There’s only one problem and it’s a problem no one will
dare to mention to her, starting with her husband: she cannot sing in tune to
save her life. From this brilliant premise based on the true story of Florence
Foster Jenkins, the American socialite and calamitous singer who inspired
the recent Meryl Streep film (and a character in Citizen Kane), writer-director
Xavier Gianolli draws a marvelously rich tale, mining the comic possibilities as
well as the genuine tragedy of a woman living in a world of illusion sustained
by sycophants. Gianolli also creates a striking portrait of Paris in the twenties,
taking in the aristocratic milieu as well as the ferment of subversive art
movements and the Bohemian demimonde. Marguerite is a tour de force of
controlled chaos, brimming with eccentric characters and opulent set pieces,
all orbiting around the irresistible figure of Marguerite, a woman whose
dedication is an inspiration—until it turns to madness and cautionary tale.
For her unforgettable performance in Marguerite, Catherine Fort was awarded
the 2015 César (French Oscar) for best actress in a leading role.

DIRECTOR
Xavier Giannoli

SCREENPLAY
Xavier Giannoli & Marcia Romano

CAST
Catherine Frot
André Marcon
Michel Fau
Christa Theret
Denis Mpunga
Sylvain Dieuaide
Aubert Fenoy
Sophia Leboutte
Théo Cholbi

DETAILS
Drama
English, French, Italian
129 min.
Belgium, Czech Republic,
France, 2016
Blu-Ray, DCP

DISTRIBUTOR
Cohen Media Group

PRICE RANGE
From $250

La mort de Louis XIV / The Death of Louis XIV

After rising to the top of the festival circuit with astonishing retellings of Don
Quixote, the Nativity, and the life of Casanova, the unpredictable Catalan
auteur Albert Serra takes on two icons at once: the Sun King and the celebrated
French actor Jean-Pierre Léaud. By offering the role of Louis XIV to the man
who played Antoine Doinel in The 400 Blows and its sequels, as well as starring
in epochal modernist films by Godard and Pasolini, Serra has given film lovers
the opportunity to once more marvel at the unmatched talent of a performer
whose every gesture and intonation seems a work of poetry. Playing Louis XIV
in the last days of his life, surrounded by his obsequious courtiers and—in one
hilarious scene—his beloved greyhounds, Léaud reaches new heights, using
his aura as a legend of cinema to cast the long shadow of a fading Sun King.
Serra’s trademark philosophical wit is put to good use in this warts-and-all
depiction of the frailty of a feared monarch, as is his marvelous command of
chiaroscuro lighting. Inspired by the memoirs of the duc de Saint-Simon, The
Death of Louis XIV feels as rigorously accurate as it is profoundly imaginative.

DIRECTOR
Albert Serra

SCREENPLAY
Albert Serra & Thierry Lounas

CAST
Jean-Pierre Léaud
Patrick D’Assumçao
Marc Susini
Iréne Silvagni
Bernard Belin
Jacques Henric

DETAILS
Historical Drama
French
115 min.
France, Portugal, Spain, 2016
Blu-Ray, DCP, DVD

DISTRIBUTOR
Cinema Guild

PRICE RANGE
$375 Blu-Ray / DVD
$450 DCP
Depending on the size of the venue

Ni le ciel ni la terre / Neither Heaven nor Earth

When French soldiers stationed at a remote outpost in Afghanistan begin
vanishing without a trace, their commander Captain Antares Bonassieu
(Jérémie Renier) assumes that enemy troops are responsible. Then he learns
that the Taliban are also disappearing and realizes he may be facing the most
invisible of enemies. Described by its brilliant young director Clément Cogitore
as “John Ford meets M. Night Shyamalan,” Neither Heaven nor Earth is the rare
film to make the leap from the headlines to the Twilight Zone, playing out the
eternal struggle between the spiritual and the physical on a desert battlefield
where literally anything could happen. Deftly combining a nearly documentary
attention to the details of military life with an artier, conceptual touch that
reveals his background in the visual arts, Cogitore immerses the viewer in
an environment unfamiliar to most but imagined by many—the contested
tribal areas of Afghanistan—only to take us far beyond the imaginable, thus
turning his debut feature into a deeply metaphysical film that works both as a
thriller and a horror movie, but is not limited by either genre. This speculative
contribution to the growing body of films about the endless wars of the 21st
century is entirely its own beast, and signals the arrival of a major new talent.

DIRECTOR
Clément Cogitore

SCREENPLAY
Clément Cogitore, Thomas Bidegain

CAST
Jérémie Renier
Swann Arlaud
Kevin Azaïs
Finnegan Oldfield

DETAILS
Drama
Farsi, French
100 min.
France, 2015
Blu-Ray, DCP, DVD

DISTRIBUTOR
Film Movement

PRICE RANGE
$450 for DCP
$350 for DVD & Blu-Ray

No Home Movie

The final masterpiece by the late Chantal Akerman is both a fascinating
encapsulation of her nearly fifty years of filmmaking and an entirely
accessible, deeply moving documentary about a daughter’s relationship with
her ailing parent. During her elderly mother’s final months, Akerman filmed
their conversations with a consumer-grade video camera. Working with this
most basic equipment, Akerman retains her unmistakable gaze and creates
a true work of art from the ephemera of daily life. For the wonder of No Home
Movie is the wonder of Akerman’s entire body of work: having begun to make
films when it was rare for women to direct, let alone for films to truly focus on a
woman’s experience, Akerman set about turning the domestic into the political
and historical, the kitchen into the world stage on which revolution and
intimacy played out side by side. This most personal of films is no exception:
set in kitchens and living rooms and composed of quotidian activities, this
tender but unsentimental meditation on love and communication is above all
a film about the individual’s place in history and the world. Those who have
seen Akerman’s films will know that her mother’s experience as a Jew during
the Holocaust shaped the daughter’s art: in No Home Movie, mother and
daughter discuss the subject openly for the first time, considering its effect
on their lives, but also on the future of humanity.

DIRECTOR
Chantal Akerman

SCREENPLAY
Chantal Akerman

CAST
Natalia Akerman

DETAILS
Documentary
French
115 min.
Belgium, France, 2016
Blu-Ray, DCP, DVD

DISTRIBUTOR
Icarus Films

PRICE RANGE
$200 discounted Tournées Film
Festival rate for one screening

Rester vertical / Staying Vertical

Following his groundbreaking Stranger by the Lake (2013), Alain Guiraudie confirms his status as one of the most fearless, innovative French directors of his generation with Staying Vertical, the story of Leo, a filmmaker trying and failing to find inspiration by roaming a France that is equal parts dreamscape and harsh reality, a seamless patchwork of the limestone plateaus of the Massif Central, a port town in Brittany, and the western marshlands. While hiking on a desolate plateau, hoping to catch sight of a wolf, Leo meets a young shepherdess; the ensuing relationship takes us through the stages of the entire lifecycle, from the birth of a child to the death of an elder. Yet in Guiraudie’s hands no relationship is clearly defined, or definitive, and the film constantly—and often humorously—readjusts the viewer’s perception of the connections between people, but also between people and animals, resonating in subtle but profound ways with crucial questions of our era: LGBTQ rights, environmental issues, the struggle for financial security. Fluidity of gender and desire, but also of responsibility and even geography ensures that every moment of Staying Vertical is imbued with a boundless sense of possibility. This exhilarating potential is at the core of even its most chilling scenes; it is the hope against the wolves at Europe’s gates.

DIRECTOR
Alain Guiraudie

SCREENPLAY
Alain Guiraudie

CAST
Damien Bonnard
India Hair
Raphaël Thiéry

DETAILS
Drama, Mystery
French
98 min.
France, 2017
Blu-Ray, DCP, DVD

DISTRIBUTOR
Strand Releasing

PRICE RANGE
$250 – $400 depending on size of
screening and format

L’Avenir / Things to Come

Though only thirty-five years old, writer-director Mia Hansen-Løve has
already made five features and established herself as one of contemporary
French cinema’s brightest talents. With the stunningly mature Things to Come,
she remains faithful to her calling as a chronicler of the lives and loves of
today’s educated Parisians, continuing to observe both the milestones in her
characters’ lives and the everyday minutia that make her films so convincing
and familiar. Working with Isabelle Huppert, the first major star cast in one
of her features, Hansen-Løve creates a surprisingly luminous portrait of a
woman facing difficult changes in late middle-age: in the span of a few months,
high school philosophy professor Nathalie (Huppert) is left by her husband of
twenty-five years, buries her mother, and learns that the publishing imprint
she edits is being terminated. Though her future might look bleak, Nathalie
remains committed to her intellectual values and her personal mission to
pass them on to her pupils. Set against a backdrop of student unrest, Things
to Come is both an energizing reminder of the crucial role played by ideas in
French public life and an inspiring view of the fortitude found in the life of the
mind, powerfully channeled through Isabelle Huppert’s intelligence, vitality,
and unexpected flashes of humor.

DIRECTOR
Mia Hansen-Løve

SCREENPLAY
Mia Hansen-Løve

CAST
Isabelle Huppert
André Marcon
Roman Kolinka
Edith Scob

DETAILS
Drama
French
102 min.
France, 2016
Blu-Ray, DCP, DVD

DISTRIBUTOR
IFC Films / Sundance Selects

PRICE RANGE
$350 – $600

Dans la cour / In the Courtyard


SYNOPSIS
With In the Courtyard, veteran director Pierre Salvadori, a master of the melancholy comedy, achieves the rare feat of capturing contemporary French society not through headlines or social reportage, but a deeply empathetic rendition of its moods. It begins when Antoine (Gustave Kervern) walks away from his life as a rock singer and takes a job as the live-in custodian of a modest Paris apartment building. His new residence seems to be a magnet for people who share his emotional fragility: there’s the man on the fourth floor who is obsessed with noise and clutter; the failed soccer star who snorts coke and plays Xbox all day; a homeless Eastern European who squats in the property’s garden shed with his dog. Most touching of all is Mathilde (Catherine Deneuve), a retiree who is gradually becoming convinced that the crack in her wall is going to swallow up the entire neighborhood. In the understated, oddball friendship formed by Mathilde and Gustave, Salvadori finds the hope in a world of loneliness and anxiety and gives France’s national icon Catherine Deneuve an opportunity to display yet another facet of her extraordinary talent. As troubling as it is amusing, In the Courtyard is the very definition of the sleeper hit: a modest, well-crafted picture that will tell us what it was like to be French in 2015 for decades to come.

DIRECTOR
Pierre Salvadori

SCREENPLAY
Pierre Salvadori, David Colombo-Leotard

CAST
Catherine Deneuve
Gustave Kervern

DETAILS
French
97 min.
France, 2014
Blu-ray, DCP, DVD

DISTRIBUTOR
Cohen Media Group

PRICE RANGE
$300

Valley of Love


SYNOPSIS
Thirty-five years after playing a bourgeois woman and her thug lover in Maurice Pialat’s classic Loulou, Isabelle Huppert and Gérard Depardieu are finally reunited in Guillaume Nicloux’s deeply original Valley of Love. Here, France’s two leading stars play Gérard and Isabelle, a divorced couple of famous actors who meet in Death Valley after receiving a letter from their dead son, a recent suicide, promising that he will reappear in the desert at a specific time and place. While Nicloux, one of French cinema’s masters of the unexpected (his previous feature was The Kidnapping of Michel Houllebecq, with the controversial writer playing himself in a fictional story), fills Valley of Love with discordant visions worthy of David Lynch and wry observations of the inevitable culture clash between French and American guests in a odforsaken motel, the heart of the movie is simply the aura of its two stars and the collective memory they embody. Watching Isabelle Huppert’s marvelously nuanced expressions and Gérard Depardieu’s monumental presence—it is fair to say that he upstages the desert—the viewer is confronted with a wordless meditation on the passage of time and the extent to which moviegoers’ lives are enmeshed with those of the people on the screen. Drawing not only on its own gripping story but on the history in its actors’ faces, Valley of Love reaches an emotional fever pitch in the heart of the desert.

DIRECTOR
Guillaume Nicloux

SCREENPLAY
Guillaume Nicloux
David H. Pickering (translation)

CAST
Gérard Depardieu
Isabelle Huppert

DETAILS
French
91 min.
Belgium, France, 2015
Blu-ray, DCP

DISTRIBUTOR
Strand Releasing

PRICE RANGE
$250 for Blu-ray
$350 for DCP