Cork French Film Festival’s Programme Honours Pierre Étaix


Pierre Étaix in Irish premiere of Otar Iosseliani’s Chantrapas (Mon 5th March 2012, Gate Cinema @ 21:00)


‘There are comedians good and bad, and there are artists like Pierre Etaix’ – Sun-Herald (Sydney,Australia) 1965.

The 23rd Cork French Film Festival, sponsored by Bord Gáis Energy running from 4 – 11 March sees a week long programme by curator Paul Callanan, featuring a host of premieres, preview screenings, masterclasses as well as a jam packed lineup of live audio-visual events.

The programme is centered around Pierre Étaix with a theme of surreal visual comedy running throughout. Étaix learned his trade working with the great Jacques Tati, whose films also feature prominently in the festival, Mon Oncle, Playtime, Mr. Hulot’s Holiday. The festival pays homage to Max Linder, the first silent film star and inventor of visual slapstick comedy, and whom Charlie Chaplin referred to as his master, with another gala screening of Seven Years of Bad Luck with live piano accompaniment at Ballymaloe House.

Firmly grounded in the work of these three maestros are two excellent contemporary films The Fairy and the Irish premiere of Holiday’s by The Sea. Étaix also acts in several of the contemporary films screening at the festival including the closing film Le Havre by Finnish maestro Aki Kaurismaki which was awarded at Cannes International Film Festival this year.




Pierre Étaix clowning on stage

 Étaix is a clown, magician, illustrator, cabaret artist, director, screenwriter and actor whose films recall the genius of Keaton, Chaplin and Lloyd. He worked with famed director Jacques Tati in various capacities beginning with Mon Oncle in 1958, then found an ideal collaborator for his own film projects in Jean-Claude Carrière with whom he went on to form a bountiful decade long partnership.

Their short, Happy Anniversary, won an Oscar in 1963, however Étaix never got to attend the ceremony, his producer took a girl with him instead! This seems to sum up the treatment of this great genius of comic cinema by those who pull the strings in the film industry. He continues to this day to resist producer led impositions to place bankable stars in his film projects, remaining true to his visions and his heart. Étaix is still brimming with energy and excitement at the age of 83, he reaps the rewards of ‘always doing what I love to do’. Happy Anniversary’s international success enabled Étaix to make his first feature Le Soupirant (The Suitor) later that year, in it he plays a Parisian bachelor who, after the insistence of his parents, sets out to find a wife. As always with the films of Étaix, drollness goes hand in hand with a meticulous observation of daily reality and abrupt leaps into in a delirious world of imagination.

Copyright entanglements have long kept Étaix’s work out of the public eye, and his films have been only recently restored and re-released in France. The restoration work was performed by Technicolor Foundation for Cinema Heritage and Groupama Gan Foundation for Cinema. A petition in 2009, signed by Jean-Luc Godard, David Lynch and Woody Alan and 56,000 others rescued his work from the brink of oblivion. Jerry Lewis, a good friend and mutual admirer of Pierre Étaix, has called him the only film genius he ever met and one of the ‘great forces’of twentieth century comedy.

Cork French Film Festival have uncovered these rare and precious cinematic gems and curator Paul Callanan is delighted to exhibit the incredible oeuvre of Pierre Étaix to an audience who have been denied the opportunity to see his films for over two decades. ‘His films have been an incredible personal discovery and it’s great to be able to share that discovery with others – that’s what festivals are all about.’

Pierre Étaix and Jean-Claude Carrière “We don’t imitate anyone” in the 1960’s.

Pierre Étaix and Jean-Claude Carrière are in Cork to celebrate a complete retrospective of their newly restored work, 5 features, one a documentary, and 3 shorts in all. Étaix will open the festival with a screening of his magical classic Yoyo (1965). Following the stock market crash, a ruined millionaire joins a circus performer on the road. Their son Yoyo grows up to be a famous clown but filled with dreams of restoring the old family home he risks repeating his father’s past mistakes. Their family saga beautifully traces the development of film from the silent era to the age of television, the first half an hour, set in the 1920’s, is shot without dialogue. Extraordinarily beautiful to look at, crammed with wonderful gags and a certain autobiographical detail, Yoyo, is considered by many to be Pierre Étaix’s masterpiece. This gala double bill is presented by Pierre Étaix in person and includes a screening of his Oscar winning short, the pitch perfect, Happy Anniversary (1963).

A still from Yoyo (1965) (Opening film, Sun 4th March, Gate Cinema @ 19:00)

Pierre Étaix and Jean-Claude Carrière work on a script in the 1980’s. (Screen Talk: Thurs 8th March, UCC & 17:30)


The prolific and legendary screenwriter Jean-Claude Carrière presents a Q&A screening of Le Grand Amour and presents a free Screen Talk on Pierre Étaix and The Art of Writing Comedy for Cinema at Cork University. A natural storyteller Carrière is the provider of countless nuggets of wisdom and inspiring and amusing anecdotes and will be reflecting on the birth of his own film career and the incredibly fruitful partnership with Étaix that blossomed into one of the most acclaimed of 1960’s cinema. Carrière is probably best known for his collaborations with Luis Buñuel which produced six film classics such as Belle de Jour and The Discrete Charm of the Bourgeoisie. The prolific writer went on to pen The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Cyrano de Bergerac, The Tin Drum and more recently was the script editor for Michael Haneke’s The White Ribbon.

Jean-Claude Carrière was Oscar nominated for best screenwriter with Luis Buñuel’s 1973 classic.



The Game of Death plus Q&A with Director Thomas Bornot (Wed 7th March, Gate Cinema @ 16:15)

The film programme at Gate Cinema in Cork City will also host a range of documentaries and short films including Carrière 250 Meters, the Irish premiere of a clever, offbeat travelogue with Jean- Claude Carrière narrating a reflective journey through India, Paris, New York, Spain and Mexico. The Game of Death (La Jeu de Mart) caused a media storm when it screened earlier this year on French television.

The well constructed documentary recreates the infamous ’60s experiment conducted by Yale psychologist Stanley Milgram in which participants were prepared to administer what they believed were fatal electric shocks to others simply because they were following instructions from a scientist. Thomas Bornot & Christophe Nick transpose the experiment to the world of television and game shows by recruiting a number of participants for, what they believe is, a TV game show called Le Jeu de la Mort (The Game of Death). Immensely engaging and with startling results The Game of Death poses a controversial question: as reality television looks for even greater extremes to increase viewership, will we possibly reach a point where onscreen death becomes customary entertainment?

This screening will be followed by a Q&A with director Thomas Bornot.

The documentary programme also include Pierre Étaix’s last major film Pays de Cocagne (Land of Milk and Honey). Just after May 68, Pierre Étaix captures scenes of the French on holiday on a portable 16mm camera. From over twenty-two hours of footage, shot over a two-month period, and after seven months of editing, Étaix extracts an hour and a quarter of laughter and creates the first burlesque documentary. Witnessing the failure to achieve positive political change and a wave of neoconservatism the ‘reportage’ is another acutely observed look at modern living. It is surprisingly contemporary and lauded by a new French generation but at the time French critics seemed to take Étaix’s ‘bad taste’ film as a personal affront, with some lashing out at the director without ever questioning the reasons for his change of direction.



Installation with live sound design

Memorision with live surround sound design (Thurs 8th March 2012, Triskel ChristChurch @ 20:00)

Live events have always played a big role in the Cork French Film Festival and this year’s dynamic line-up is no exception. The festival hosts a series of diverse events at Triskel Arts Centre’s new purpose built concert hall at Christchurch beginning with an immersive installation, Memorision, by Manuel Chantre from Montreal, Canada. Made up of twenty translucent screens this tri-dimensional installation integrates digital art, video and immersive sculpture, creating a maze of floating and rotating video accompanied by an electronic surround sound environment that is performed live.



FellSwoop Theatre make their debut inIrelandwith their stage adaptation of Sylvian Chomet’s Oscar®-nominated animation Belleville Rendez-Vous. Following sell-out runs and rave reviews at Edinburgh Fringe Festival and The Pleasance, London, FellSwoop will present this touching comedy using puppetry, physical theatre, live jazz and bespoke sound effects.



Cine-Concert – Live score for silent film

Renée Falconetti in The Passion of Joan of Arc by Carl Dreyer (Sat 10th March 2012, Triskel Christchurch 2000)

The undoubted live highlight is a specially commissioned cine-concert of The Passion of Joan of Arc at Triskel Christchurch. With its stunning camerawork and striking compositions, Carl Dreyer’s The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928) convinced the world that movies could be art. Renée Falconetti gives one of the greatest performances ever recorded on film, as the young maiden who died for God and France.

Based on the actual trial records, Joan endures the loathing, envy, taunting and deceit of the French church court as they attempt to force a confession to witchcraft and sorcery. It is only through her unwavering faith that she can endure and rise above her tormentors, although even she has her moment of doubt. With its mix of stark realism and expressionism The Passion of Joan of Arc is considered one of the greatest films, if not one of the greatest artistic feats, of all time. Dreyer’s innovative approach has been echoed in the work of Ingmar Bergman, Robert Bresson, Andrei Tarkovsky, Lars von Trier, and countless others. Specially commissioned by the festival, Irene Buckley has used the text and the structure of the Requiem Mass, to create an evocative new work scored for soprano (Emma Nash) and church organ (Rhoda Dullea) with electronic textures. The Cork-born composer has written original scores for award winning film and theatre productions including My Beamish Boy and Enda Walsh’s Disco Pigs.


Her pieces are characterised by the dynamic interplay between medieval and contemporary electronic composition and have been performed in locations from Carnegie Hall to Muziekgebouw (Amsterdam). With its raw emotional power, evocative church setting and haunting score, The Passion of Joan of Arc is an awe-inspiring evening of music and cinema.



Dancer Delphine Dolce in Project D.I. (Sat 10th March 2012, Triskel ChristChurch @ 22:00)

Presented with Plugd Records later on Saturday night is another specially commissioned choreographic piece Project D.I. with dancer Delphine Dolce and electro-videographer Lionel Palun from Grenoble and Dublin based musicians Andrew Fogarty and David Lacy. Dancing between real and virtual images, the body is sculpted by lines of light into singular ellipses and body shapes, creating ethereal dialogues driven by sound. The image seizes the body, deconstructing and disarticulating its form and projecting it into an infinite universe.

This choreographic piece creates a singular relationship between the body, image and sound. Fogarty primarily a live improviser, plays analogue modular synthesizer, no-input mixer and clarinet. Better known as part of the duo Toymonger he also runs the Munitions Family label releasing a wide range of experimental music from both Ireland and abroad. Performing with him on the night is David Lacey playing percussion, crude electronics and tapes. He is co-curator of i-and-e, an organization which promotes improvised and contemporary music in Dublin. In addition to his long running collaboration with Paul Vogel, he is a member of Chipshopmusic, the Cian Nugent band and Legion of Two.


CLOSING EVENT – Rock ‘n’ Roll Cinema

The festival closes with a bang to Robert Rodriguez’s 1995 cult hit Desperado screened with a live soundtrack by French psychedelic rock ‘n’ roller’s Bikini Machine. This unique cine-concert was specially commissioned by the Rennes Film Festival with whom the Cork festival share strong ties and aligns original dialogue and sound effects to an incredibly tight live original soundtrack. The show has performed to excellent reviews including at the Edinburgh International Film Festival 2011.


Bikini Machine perform their soundtrack to Desperado live at Edinburgh International Film Festival 2011

Tickets and information on all events and screenings is available from or by visiting the Cork French Film Festival pop-up office on Opera Lane in Cork Cityand all festival venues.

For more information, print quality images, press packs and access to festival guests for interviews

contact:Paul Callanan – Curator, Cork French Film Festival 021 431 0677/ +44 7827 296 007

Friday March 2nd 2012, The Irish Times , ‘Return of a Class Clown’


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