The San Francisco Film Society presents the sixth annual French Cinema Now, November 7–10 at Landmark’s Clay Theatre, in association with the French American Cultural Society, the Consulate General of France in San Francisco and Unifrance. The four-day festival brings the most significant new work from international francophone cinema to discerning Bay Area audiences. Covering a broad spectrum of subject matter and genres, FCN offers a comprehensive snapshot of the current moment in French-language cinema.
For complete program information, click.
“This year’s edition highlights the virtuosity of French-language cinema in dealing with dark and complicated subject matter but it also demonstrates the breadth of current filmmaking and includes plenty of humor and delight,” said Rachel Rosen, Film Society director of programming. “It’s a pleasure to be able to both share the most recent work of SFIFF and FCN alumni and to introduce new French filmmaking talent to San Francisco audiences.”
From the established talents of such notable filmmakers as Claire Denis, Nicolas Philibert and Valeria Bruni Tedeschi to new, emerging talent like Sébastien Betbeder, Katell Quillévéré and Axelle Ropert, French Cinema Now 2013 has something for cinephiles of all tastes. Romantic triangles, unusual familial conflicts and examinations of sexuality—subjects French filmmakers are known for handling with particular skill—feature prominently, and Europe’s biggest stars such as Louis Garrel (A Castle in Italy), Vincent Lindon and Chiara Mastroianni (Bastards) appear with the region’s up-and-coming actors like Sara Forestier (Suzanne) and Vincent Macaigne (2 Autumns, 3 Winters).
THURSDAY NOVEMBER 7 OPENING NIGHT
7:00 pm 2 Autumns, 3 Winters
Sébastien Betbeder (2 automnes 3 hivers, France 2013)
Sébastien Betbeder, whose debut Nights with Theodore was the winner of the FIPRESCI prize at this spring’s SFIFF, returns with this offbeat story of thirty-somethings navigating whatever crisis comes between quarter- and mid-life. Arman and Benjamin are friends from art school. Arman first meets Amélie when he bumps into her, literally, while jogging. His casual attempts to meet her again fail until one night when dramatic circumstances reunite them, intertwining the lives of all three. Playfully told, despite the serious nature of some of its events, 2 Autumns, 3 Winters applies indie charm to the vagaries of life. With Vincent Macaigne, Maud Wyler, Bastien Bouillon. 93 min. In French with subtitles.
9:15 pm A Castle in Italy
Valeria Bruni Tedeschi (Un château en Italie, France 2013)
In her third film, director, actress and writer Valeria Bruni Tedeschi continues to mine her own experience to portray the lives and crises of the bourgeoisie. Here she plays Louise, an actress tiring of her profession and longing for motherhood. When she runs into younger actor Nathan (VBT’s former real-life beau Louis Garrel) on a film set, he pursues her relentlessly, but he’s not particularly interested in fathering a child. As she has done in her prior work, Bruni Tedeschi presents the problems of the rich and famous without apology but with refreshing nuance and humor, and surrounds herself with a formidable cast. With Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, Louis Garrel, Filippo Timi. 104 min. In French and Italian with subtitles.
FRIDAY NOVEMBER 8
7:00 pm Rendezvous in Kiruna
Anna Novion (Rendez-vous à Kiruna, France 2012)
Ernest is working on a major architectural project at his firm when he receives an unwanted call from Sweden. His biological son whom he has never met has died in a boating accident and, with the mother away, Ernest must come to Lapland and identify the body. Although he protests that he has no emotional connection to the dead youth, he ends up on a long drive north during which he picks up Magnus, a young Swedish man on his way to visit his grandfather. Director Anna Novion’s interest in Bergman and her own Swedish heritage add a quiet flair to this story of unavoidable emotional ties. With Jean-Pierre Darroussin, Anastasios Soulis. 97 min. In French, Swedish and English with subtitles.
9:30 pm Michael Kohlhaas
Arnaud des Pallières (France/Germany 2013)
Arnaud des Pallières’ austere and visually splendid medieval-era drama tells the story of Michael Kohlhaas (Mads Mikkelsen), a horse trader who is one day forced by a ruthless Baron to give over two of his prize steeds. When the nobleman’s subsequent mistreatment of the horses is revealed, Kohlhaas demands justice. But when a nobility-favoring court rules against him, and the Baron and his henchmen commit other hideous acts, Kohlhaas turns to the sword and crossbow for his revenge. Though the themes and moral conflicts will be familiar to Game of Thrones fans, the remarkable style recalls Bresson’s Lancelot du Lac. With Mads Mikkelsen, Delphine Chuillot, Bruno Ganz, Denis Lavant. 122 min. In French and German with subtitles.
SATURDAY NOVEMBER 9
2:30 pm A Castle in Italy see 11/7
4:45 pm Miss and the Doctors
Axelle Ropert (Tirez la langue, mademoiselle, France 2013)
With the same playful humanism she exhibited in The Wolberg Family (FCN 2009), Axelle Ropert’s latest film details the romantic and professional travails of sibling bachelor doctors Boris (Cédric Kahn) and Dimitri (Laurent Stocker). Attending to a precocious diabetic girl, Boris finds himself interested in her mother, a bartender named Judith (Louise Bourgoin). When Dimitri expresses similar feelings—“I hope there’s a second Judith,” he tells Boris—this offbeat love triangle is set in motion. With serious issues of the heart and the human body at stake, Miss and the Doctors manages to remain wonderfully lighthearted and buoyant. With Louise Bourgoin, Cédric Kahn, Laurent Stocker. 102 min. In French with subtitles.
7:00 pm Suzanne
Katell Quillévéré (France 2013)
Told in elliptical fragments that span 25 years, Katell Quillévéré’s follow-up to her debut Love Like Poison (FCN 2011) is the story of a woman and the effects of her irrepressible passions on those around her. We first meet Suzanne as a girl, living with her sister and widowed truck-driver father, but quickly move to the girls’ teenage years and the news that Suzanne is pregnant and will keep the baby—just the first bombshell that this mercurial woman will drop on her family. The dramatic twists and turns of their lives are presented in non-judgmental fashion and elevated by sharp performances from the film’s leads. With Sara Forestier, François Damiens, Adèle Haenel. 91 min. In French with subtitles.
9:30 pm Stranger by the Lake
Alain Guiraudie (L’inconnu du lac, France 2013)
Alain Guiraudie’s analysis of gay male desire is set entirely in the environs of a cruising spot on the shore of a picturesque French lake, where men prowl the nearby woods for hook-ups. On the first day, Franck spots a devilishly handsome man named Michel but keeps missing his chance. Later, he sees the dreamboat do something terrible, but instead of running away Franck throws himself into Michel’s arms. Guiraudie tackles weighty subject matter—the intermingling of danger and desire, physical versus intellectual engagement, and the nature of intimacy—with a playful sensibility and striking visual style. Note: This is a sexually explicit film. With Pierre Deladonchamps, Christophe Paou, Patrick d’Assumçao, Jérôme Chappatte. 97 min. In French with subtitles.
SUNDAY NOVEMBER 10
1:15 pm House of Radio
Nicolas Philibert (La maison de la radio, France/Japan 2013)
Master documentarian Nicolas Philibert’s latest takes a delightful and surprisingly humorous look at public radio, French style. Inside an unusual round building in Paris is Radio France, comprised of several premiere stations. Luckily for us, these bustling offices are full of great characters both known (Umberto Eco in for an on-air interview) and unknown (a news manager who gleefully sorts through grisly news briefs, the director of a radio drama, a telephone operator who screens for a call-in show). Mixed in with the quiz shows, live musical performances and sports reporting, they form the fabric of a beautifully observed and pleasurable view of a public institution and beloved medium. 99 min. In French with subtitles.
3:30 pm Rendezvous in Kiruna see 11/8
6:00 pm Vic+Flo Saw a Bear
Denis Côté (Vic+Flo ont vu un ours, Canada 2013)
At 61 and newly released from jail, Victoria (Pierrette Robitaille) is trying to start over. Laying low at the home of her paralyzed uncle Émile, she’s visited by her former cellmate and younger lover Florence (Romane Bohringer), who wants to move in. With their days bordering on the mundane—driving around the isolated countryside in a golf cart or splashing about in a wading pool—Flo becomes frustrated at their hemmed-in existence and their bucolic life together is threatened. Upending viewer expectations with surprising tonal shifts, director Denis Côté (Curling) memorably reinvents the romantic drama genre. With Pierrette Robitaille, Romane Bohringer, Marc-André Grondin, Marie Brassard. 95 min. In French with subtitles.
8:30 pm Bastards
Claire Denis (Les salauds, France 2013)
Claire Denis’ troubled and troubling new film, highlighted by Agnès Godard’s masterful cinematography and Stuart Staples’ (of Tindersticks) evocative score, begins with rain and death and rarely lets up from there. For reasons at first mysterious, a sea captain named Marco Silvestri (Vincent Lindon) arrives in Paris and rents an empty apartment. Living directly downstairs are business tycoon Edouard Laporte (Denis regular Michel Subor) and his mistress Raphaëlle (Chiara Mastroianni), whose lives will intersect with Marco’s in dark and devastating ways. Denis’ latest is an angry and upsetting film, detailing a world where money and the power it wields can have poisonous and far-reaching effects. With Vincent Lindon, Chiara Mastroianni, Julie Bataille, Michel Subor, Lola Créton. 100 min. In French with subtitles.
Every year, SFFS Youth Education presents the French Films & Schools program as part of French Cinema Now. This program exposes high-school level students of French to the language and culture of France. Past offerings have included Brodeuses by Éléonore Faucher, Cyrano de Bergerac by Jean-Paul Rappeneau, L’Enfant by Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne and The Class by Laurent Cantet. This year’s program, offered free to all participating students and their teachers, will feature Katell Quillévéré’s Suzanne. Seats for the French Films & Schools program are available exclusively to Bay Area educators and students and may be reserved only through the Schools at the Festival office by contacting Keith Zwölfer at 415-561-5040 or email@example.com.
For more information visit sffs.org.