The IFI French Film Festival
Sunday, 19th November 2011
Sunday at the IFI French Film Festival provided an opportunity to experience a bona fide classic on the big screen as the IFI hosted an afternoon double bill of Jean Vigo’s Zéro de Conduite and L’Atalante – two of the four films Vigo made before his early death from TB at the age of 29 in 1934.
Introduced by Luce Vigo, both films are testament to Vigo’s short life consumed by his utter devotion to film.
But it was L’Atalante that poured from the screen and enraptured the viewer in the power of cinema. Its simplicity expresses a depth of emotion contained within a fairy tale of inexhaustible passion. It’s a story of love found, love lost – and love regained, embodying the essence of human experience.
Sadly Vigo himself never got to see the release of the film he envisioned as it was butchered upon its release and remained for the most part a neglected masterpiece until half a century later.
A special family screening of Philippe de Chauveron’s L’élève Ducobu took place earlier in the day as part of the festival. Based on a Belgian comic series, serial prankster and miscreant Ducobu is continually getting expelled from schools for playing the clown. In his characteristic bee-striped jumper, he is in last chance saloon at his new school, where he comes up against a formidable teacher, Gustav Latouche, and his brainy classmate, Léonie. Needless to say, Ducobu has to pull all sorts of rabbits out of all sorts of hats in an effort to outdo his adversaries.
Sunday evening at the IFI began with a repeat screening of Valérie Donzelli’s Declaration of War and concluded with His Mother’s Eyes (Les Yeux de sa mere), Thierry Klifa’s melodrama boasting a stellar cast headed by the never less than legendary Catherine Deneuve.