The Apparition by Xavier Giannoli to open Cork French Film Festival
Welcoming renowned French actors and directors to Cork, the 29th Cork French Film Festival will include a number of French premieres in Ireland, in particular the opening film, Xavier Giannoli’s The Apparitionand the closing film, Reinventing Marvin directed by Anne Fontaine.
Curated by Guest Festival Programmer, Marie-Pierre Richard, this year’s festival runs from 2nd to 7th March, and is rich in diversity and intensity of themes, featuring contemporary topics ranging from the role of women in society, coming out, the impact of custody battles on children, religion and faith, living in conflict and of course, the search for love.
Opening the Festival, The Apparition tells the story of war reporter Jacques Mayanno (Vincent Lindon) on a mission from the Vatican investigating a young woman and her alleged apparitions of the Virgin Mary in South East France. Like Giannoli’s previous films (In the Beginning; Marguerite and The Singer), his characters want to believe, and the lead protagonist finds himself at odds with his conviction to find the truth in a world where faith rules rather than proof.
Winning at the Venice International Film Festival, the closing film to premiere in Ireland is Reinventing Marvin, and recounts the journey of Marvin/Martin leaving his small countryside village where he is singled out as ‘different’. His mentor and role model will encourage him to tell his story on stage.
Award-winning French actress, director and screenwriter Sandrine Bonnaire will be in Cork along with director Gaël Morel for the screening of Catch the Wind, and will participate in a masterclass at UCC as well as a Questions & Answers session following the screening of their film on Monday 5th March. Catch the Wind offers an affecting portrait of a woman who traverses two troubled worlds – the collapsing working class structures of France and the archaic conditions and exploitation she encounters in Morocco.
Women feature strongly in this year’s Cork French Film Festival with another film, The Guardians, depicting the life of women left behind in rural France while the men have gone to fight in World War I. Xavier Beauvois’ latest wonder is a beautifully paced intimate account of the peasant world and the women heroes of the First World War.
The festival will present two classic French films by master director Jean-Pierre Melville, Léon Morin, Priest and The Red Circle, as well as a number of school matinees with Educational Kits organised by the festival in partnership with the Irish Film Institute (IFI), which provide an ideal French cinematic experience to the young audience.
Taking place at the Cork Institute of Technology (CIT), a free screening of Marie Curie – the courage of knowledge and also a concert of French repertoire will be performed at the CIT Cork School of Music, along with French food for those enjoying the lunchtime recital.
This year’s programme also includes the visit of the French street artist, Daco, who will display his work of geometrical and colourful wild animals at Alliance Française de Cork on Mary Street. To accompany this exhibition, short films of Daco’s work and experiences will screen at the Crawford Art Gallery, including a Questions & Answers session in collaboration with Mad About Cork artists.
Emmet OBrien is at the 27th Cork French Film Festival.
With just two days left in the 27th Cork French Film Festival we wanted to highlight the rest of what is proving to be a very strong festival. From wistful dramas dealing with the onset of adulthood, to gritty crime outings alongside a great educational programme for all ages, the scope of the week has been stellar. It has also given a number of Irish premiere screenings, which has proven to be quite the coup.
Saturday is giving us heady politics with two charged pieces, the first from the turn of the century The Anarchists, a handsomely mounted period drama alive with revolutionary zeal and featuring Adèle Exarchopoulos known for her blistering performance in the modern classic Blue is the Warmest Colour.
Political asylum is the subject of the Palme d’Or winning Dheepan [pictured], a rough and intense view of the final days of the Sri Lanken Civil War and its awful ramifications. Directed by Jacques Audiard, who previously helmed the acclaimed A Prophet, Dheepan is an unconventional exploration of immigrant concerns and unfortunately proves as topical in a conflicted 2016 as it did back in 2009 when the conflict finally came to an end.
Sunday brings us back to a more Gallic setting with the thriller A Perfect Man detailing an unscrupulous actor who pilfers a manuscript of a deceased writer for his own ends. A tale of ethical bankruptcy to further ones career this twisty turny film should give audiences a nice jolt next to its concerns over the authenticity of performance and art.
The Festival comes to a close with The Measure of a Man, a Palme d’Or competing drama from Stephane Brize that showcases Vincent Lindon (in a Cannes-winning Best Actor performance) as a man struggling to hold down a new job to support his disabled child. Using non professional actors to great effect adds a unique frisson to the film and grounds its sober concerns with an unflinching and gripping realism.
With its 30th year just a little bit down the road, the Cork French Film Festival remains as vital and joyful as ever and a perfect feast for not just francophiles but lovers of fine cinema in its myriad forms.
The 24th Cork French Film Festival (3 – 10 March, 2013)
Emmet O’Brien reports from he 24th Cork French Film Festival.
For fans of classic French Cinema this years 24th Cork French Film Festival provided a wide array of delights ranging from hugely influential New Wave films to more recent examples of monochromatic mischief.
Making a virtue of its “Noir et Blanc” theme the programme emanated that elusive and trademark kind of cool that we associate with Franco film-making, the expressive shadows concealing what seemed like a million askew narratives. Whether it was dealing with a straight ahead Film Noir, surely the province of such dark pools and austere skies, a matinee type serial fare or tackling social and economic pressures in far flung countries it never failed to, at its heart, entertain with wit and flair.
Godard, one of the most iconic of the French New Wave lot was well represented in the screening of Alphaville, an odd fusion of dystopic science fiction filtered through a gumshoe detective story, the influences of this seminal film providing templates for future hits such as Blade Runner. Featuring a brooding central performance by Eddie Constatine, admittedly never the most versatile of actors but his granite like face and natural stoicism put to good use and when set against the luminous presence of Goddess (and Godard muse) Anna Karina the films hypnotic gaze remains hard to resist. A science fiction film bereft of any real special effects, the sleek architecture of Paris stands in for the distant future and it’s metropolitan beauty is given an ominous and menacing sheen here. One of my favourite Godard pieces even with some of its odd storytelling lurches.
Keeping with the New Wave for a moment, Shoot the Piano Player was screened, Truffauts follow on to his stunning debut The 400 Blows, it’s easy to see why on it intitial release, the reception was so muted. Following 400 Blows would be a daunting task for anyone and a genre fusion of gangster farce and existential musing must have puzzled the audience first time around. Seen from a distance there is no doubting that it’s a minor work for the director, it’s attempts to marry it’s disparate threads never quite cohering as much as you like. For every well observed, tense moment you get a throwaway gag that is quite jarring and the film prides itself on being almost wilfully obscure from an exposition point of view. Tyring to figure out the relationships becomes gradually less important as the more farcical elements get ramped up. Best to just forget it and enjoy some of its well staged scenes, an awakrd fight sequence gets special attention for its attempts to convey a really messy scuffle and how something like that might go in real life. For all it’s comedy moments that don’t quite work, the film has a chilly unsettling air that is interesting when contrasted against it’s on the surface fluff. Not essential to be seen but diverting while it lasts.
A highlight of the festival was a multi-media event in which La Jetee was screened alongside exhibit of photographs from the film in the Wandesford Quay art gallery. This evening was competed with a performance by electronic musicians I AM THE COMOS. La Jetee itself, is an undisputed masterpiece, directed by Chris Marker (his only foray into Sci-Fi alas) and its tight story of fate and time travel mechanics is a disquieting creation. Filmed using only still photographs and voice over it shows that when a concept is strong enough,like Alaphaville no special effects are required and the clipped nature of its production adds a layer to the piece. It makes the audience feel that we are less seeing a narrative than unearthing a horrific document of sorts that outlines a terrifying temporal cautionary tale. With language that finds an elegiac balance between technical and poetic La Jetee has earned its place as towering science fiction and it’s no surprise it gave a template to the still most satisfying film of Terry Gilliams career, Twelve Monkeys (sorry Brazil fans).
Persepolis, one of the most contemporary films at the festival this year, is an utterly charming coming of age tale about a girl named Marjane living under a strict Iranian regime and her curiosity about the world at large. Based on a graphic novel which had a distinctive look thankfully retained for its cinematic translation, the story is an fascinating insight into the conservative traditions and violent past of Iran. Following Marjane’s attempts to explore the wider world, it encompasses a great many tones, the comedy is sweet natured and truthful but the film isn’t afraid to show just how bleak things can get for the central character not just within Iran’s borders but beyond in Europe as she makes a number of mistakes and ends up homeless. What emerges is a truthful, touching story that if played straight might not have been anywhere near as poignant. The cartoonish presentation allows many inspired flights of visual imagination, the narrative strains at the leash of standard storytelling devices and it’s this fluid integration between the reality and the more abstract dreams and thoughts of its central character that makes it as affecting as it is. For anyone who feels a stigma with regards to animation, this should be seen as sophisticated and mature filmmaking.
Maturity was in short supply in the best film of the festival, Aki Kaurismäki’s 1992 take on the famous novel La Vie de Bohème, it follows three Bohemian artists, a writer, a painter and musician and their strange meandering adventures chasing fortune and romance. Rodolfo played by Kaurismäki regular Matti Pellonpää gets the meat of the story, his relationship with a woman named Mimi gives the film it’s main emotional hook. Pellonpää had this ability to essay a perfect man child, an emotionally stunted adult who with just one laconic expression could convey a depth of feeling, be it love or longing. His awkward courtship and the genuinely sweet relationship that springs up gives some of the film’s best gags but it is the unusual formation of bonds between the characters that the film really takes hold. There’s just no reason we should be so charmed by these individuals but each actor brings a sort of lived nuance to the role and it makes their interactions very effective. While episodic in nature and a bit too over long, it’s surprising how much this gets under your skin and it’s all down to the subtlety Kaurismäki brings to the affair. Nothing is overstated, and while some longeurs heavy with melancholy it never gets to grim and even at its bleakest the film has a winning edge and many laughs. It certainly wouldn’t suit everyones tastes but as an exercise in bohemian whimsy it packs a pretty big emotional punch come the films end.
A festival then which covered a myriad of tones all coated in eternal monochrome cool, it showed most definitely who indeed was hue when it comes to the possibilities of classic French cinema.
With a healthy suspicion of technology and aversion to the so called progress of modernity Jacques Tati’s Playtime is a flawed gem. For every wonderfully staged scene there is a gag that doesn’t quite land or a moment that drags on just that bit too long. Its many virtues however make it worthwhile and as a cinematic endeavour it should be savoured for its sheer virtuosity in its staging and set design.
Such an obsessive attention to detail would cost Tati dearly as the construction of the films impressive setting, dubbed ‘Tativille’ would end up bankrupting the director and the film itself proving a huge commercial failure. On screen its quite obvious where all the money went as the world he conjures up is a visually sumptuous wonderland, immaculately constructed for his comic set pieces. Each frame is filled to the brim with incident and flourishes, allowing the audiences eye to wander freely, not bound by any narrative conventions, outside of the setting up and employing of visual gags or farcical interludes.
The loose story, as it is, concerns the intertwining tales of an American tourist group and Tati’s well known alter ego M. Hulot as they navigate through a futuristic Paris. Their various encounters within this sterile environment, where technology is prevalent and prone to causing trouble delivers a plethora of humorous asides, ranging from very broad slapstick to some more nuanced and low key material . In its satire of mankind’s dependence upon such technology and the decadence this can lead to, the film makes its points in a graceful way, its inherent vagueness lets the audience decide on just how absurd they find this world. Its sleek designs while being forward looking are still very much of their time, bringing to my mind the dystopia featured in Truffaut’s Fahrenheit 451.
Quite episodic in nature, there are six segments which satirise many elements, from the identikit office spaces in a humdrum business world to the pressure cooker stress that can erupt in a busy and chic restaurant, each is a work of technical brilliance but the slow build can sometimes come across as padding. Sequences linger long after their point has been made/exhausted and it is shocking to think this was once a much longer film, the trimming from 155 minutes down to a more manageable 2 hour run time can be seen as a small mercy on Tati’s part.
There is a wonderful moment which plays upon the idea of voyeurism as we are peering into multiple apartments in a complex at the same time and while the individuals never meet, their visual lives overlap to great comedic effect. It is with these scenes that Playtime displays its great élan and cements its well earned influential stature.
The future and the onset of new ideas are seen as enemies to older traditions and to the basic interaction of humanity. The only recurring characters are the tourists and Hulot but to use the word ‘character’ is to be generous. We get no insight into them as real people, instead they exist as distant pawns for the director’s masterful manipulation and as such the film takes on a far more universal and abstract dimension.
Its clash of the new and old isn’t just in its basic story, it can be seen in the juxtaposition of older humour, the mime like antics of Hulot having to cope in this colourless world where physicality is dismissed as decidedly old fashioned against the onslaught of the ‘new’. Shorn of most dialogue the film is purely aesthetic, we marvel at the thought put into the ever escalating farce, we can swoon at the ravishing colours and visuals but outside of the technical and satirical the film doesn’t offer much more. A bit too restrained to be a laugh out loud romp, it is easy to appreciate and analyse but harder to love without caveats. However its closing sequence is a tour de force of quirky romanticism as the city blossoms with the onset of dusk, the rush hour traffic providing a tableaux of wonder and magic before night falls and the city of light more than lives up to its name. This is the Paris of dreams and is a beautiful grace note for Playtime to play out on.
Jean-Claude Carrière will tomorrow (Thursday, 8th March 2012) arrive in Ireland for the 23rd Cork French Film Festival, sponsored by Bord Gáis Energy.
The acclaimed French writer will give a screen talk at 5.30pm at the The Kane Building, University College Cork (UCC) on ‘Pierre Étaix and the Art of Writing Comedy for Cinema’. The talk is open to the public and is free of charge.
His long time friend and colleague Pierre Étaix, with whom he won an Oscar in 1963 for their collaboration on Heureux Anniversaire (Happy Anniversary), is this year’s Festival star. Following their Academy Award®, the two wrote and directed the feature film, ‘The Suitor’, which began a fruitful partnership that blossomed into one of the most acclaimed of 1960’s comic cinema.
Thursday night, he will also host a question and answer session at The Gate Cinema in Cork following a screening of his 1969 film Le Grand Amour starring Étaix. Beginning at 9pm, the film tells the story of Pierre, a happily married man until the arrival of a new secretary turns his world upside down. Indulging in absurd fantasies and utterly distracted, Pierre is faced with overwhelming dilemmas with comedic results.
The 23rd Cork French Film Festival, sponsored by Bord Gáis Energy, is a week-long festival which sees a host of Irish Premieres, preview screenings, masterclasses and live events in venues throughout Cork. Among the festival highlights yet to come this week are a live cine-concert of The Passion of Joan of Arc, with a specially commissioned score by composer Linda Buckley; a screening of Belleville Rendez-Vous, an original stage adaptation of Sylvian Chomet’s Acadamy Award nominated animation film; a gala evening at Ballymaloe House with dinner; a screening of Max Linder’s Seven Year’s Bad Luck; and the Festival ends with a cine-concert of Desperado, with live soundtrack by bikini machine.
Pierre Étaix in Irish premiere of Otar Iosseliani’s Chantrapas (Mon 5th March 2012, Gate Cinema @ 21:00)
WILL THE REAL ARTIST PLEASE STAND UP
‘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.
RETROSPECTIVE – PIERRE ÉTAIX
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.
LIVE AUDIO-VISUAL CHOREOGRAPHIC PERFORMANCE
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
www.corkfrenchfilmfestival.com 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
The second Agnés Varda film to grace the Festival in their excellent retrospective of her work, the first being the opening film Cleo from 5 to 7, The Beaches of Agnés is a very personal insight into the philosophies of Ms. Agnés Varda. She believes that there are landscapes inside that define people and naturally she chose a beach as hers. It makes sense, beaches are ever changing, vast and beautiful their malleability befitting a director of such variety and depth.
To label this a simple documentary would greatly undersell the piece as it combines a number of interesting stylistic devices to create a unique whole. There’s the woman herself narrating her story, from her initial work in photography through to her maturation as a filmmaker to being recognised as a grand old dame of experimental cinema. That through-line represents the arc of the film in its most traditional sense but our recollections never go in that straight a line. They meander, they grope in the dark of memory and we are left with intriguing tangents. The film is rife with lovely absurdist imagery, a cartoon cat engages her in conversation, her intimacy with visionary director Jacques Demy is shown in two anonymous nude figures nuzzling in her courtyard. Freedom of narrative and chronology is vital here. The conceit of the beach is maintained as she creates a makeshift sand pit in the middle of a busy street. It’s the style she’s always brought to her work reflected back on herself and the journey is a wonderful one, tender, hilarious and heartbreaking all in one.
Her much storied career is presented here in a very natural way, the chronology brought along by clips and encounters with her family as we see generations of her family share the screen. There’s an honesty at work, that can only come when filtered through a very content artist, a woman who knows her craft well and can use it to navigate such a complex subject. Her myriad styles and experiments are presented, and her modesty is always apparent through her humorous, self deprecating pronouncements. Those with a thirst for New Wave lore will love the anecdotes, aspiring filmmakers can marvel at her innovations and joie de vivre. Some may be surprised for her love of LA in her confession that she was readily seduced by the Hollywood Hills but for everyone there is a sense of real self analysis and joy for the very act of creating art.
In one interesting aside she questions how much do we understand the concept of family through events and shared history? We may know these people but can we ever hope to truly understand such a bond? The feeling one gets from this is that Ms. Varda would always have been an inquisitive and philosophical soul even if she hadn’t discovered her love for the medium of film. But we should be thankful that she did for the many pleasures it has afforded us.
WRI/DIR: Abbas Kiarostami • PRO: Abbas Kiarostami, Angelo Barbagello, Charles Gillibert, Marin Karmitz, Nathanaél Karmitz • DOP: Luca Bigazzi • ED: Bahman Kiarostami • Cast: Juliette Binoche, William Shimell
The Gate Cinema, 6:30pm, Tuesday, 8th March 2011
Originality is a tough thing to quantify and the lines between genres are ever changing in a filmmaker’s desire to create something new. The romance genre seems particularly stifling and stubborn in its conventions and requires special care to break free of its usual dead ends.
Certified Copy is a film obsessed with the worth of reproductions. Its writer-character James Miller has just written a book extolling the virtues of copies against original works of art. The theory is that there’s as much worth in recreating and re-contextualizing a piece of artistic creation than there is in being wholly innovative. That’s where the film goes all ‘meta’ on us.
Against a very sketchy narrative we are introduced to a couple, the aforementioned English writer James and an unnamed woman.
At first they share the awkwardness of courting, both their opinions and cultural divides clashing while an attraction simmers beneath. Both are articulate but remote in their own ways but the audience can believe it is the nerves of a blossoming relationship. As the story unfolds the lines blur between roles and the viewer is cast into doubt as to what these people represent to each other. Over the course of the film they are at turns spiteful, playful, argumentative, tender and deeply wounded and the clues provided to their romantic tale are purposely obscured. This made it a lot more interesting to me as I went into this expecting a down-the-line romantic drama but instead what one gets is a psychological game writ large, snapshots of various stages of romantic elation and self destruction. Kiarostami seems to be taking the in-movie debate of originality vs. copying and applying it to rules of this world. It seems like different filmic styles are fighting for room here and by the end we have a fascinating if flawed work.
Its attempt to be so ambitious and aloof hampers the essential tragedy we should be experiencing here. It’s hard to care for these characters when we can’t quite get a handle on them. Also by serving many masters it ends up being very non-committal. Wanting to be seen as a mainstream stab at something a little different the film doesn’t embrace its more experimental side enough to snare the art house crowd and its shifts are too jarring for the casual folk seduced by the composition of the shots, which are gorgeous, but left unmoved by its central pair. The air of mild self satisfaction in its vaguely self reflexive conceit is off putting and this robs the characters of heart. It’s hard to invest in what are essentially metaphysical chess pieces moved around the board to make some half baked cinematic point.
However both performances can not be faulted, Juliette Binoche managing to be both maddening and sympathetic. She deserved her best actress win at Cannes in 2010 and to be honest this is the first time I’ve felt her really stretching as an actress outside of her mature comfort zone role she has slipped into these last few years. William Shimmel has the slightly easier job, his role being cold and off-hand but he still gracefully rises and falls with the constantly changing parameters of the piece. They convey the unsure contours of a relationship in flux with great verve but as a whole the film feels academic, its mouthpieces just there to bridge themes and viewpoints rather than actually live and breathe what they speak of. There’s a real time element as well which brings to mind the work of Richard Linklater in particular the Before Sunrise/ Before Sunset series. In fact it comes across as an older and much darker inversion of those two films. Before Nightfall perhaps?
WRI/DIR: Agnes Varda • PRO: Carlo Ponti, Georges de Beauregard • DOP: Paul Bonis, Alain Levent, Jean Rabier• ED: Pascale Laverriere, Janine Verneau • Cast: Corinne Marchand, Antoine Bourseiller, Michel Legrand, Dorothee Blanc
The Gate Cinema, 7pm, Sunday, 6th March 2011
The 22nd Cork French Film Festival kicked off in glorious monochromatic style with Cleo from 5 to 7, Agnes Varda’s masterful dissection of time and geography set against a positively vibrant Paris in the height of its New Wave cool.
Cleo, a beautiful but very vain pop singer, exists in a bourgeoisie bubble populated by assistants, casual friends, and eccentric colleagues and the film delights in sharing these eccentrics with the audience. Despite the ‘real time’ aspect at play throughout, the tone is pitched to an absurd degree, the highly stylized tone and characters broad stroked but perfectly drawn. Through the filter of the gradually changing Cleo we see her world of artifice fall away as her life comes into clearer focus through the potential tragedy that hangs over her.
The film is literally episodic with title cards coming up to indicate the time of scenes and the character in which the segment will focus on. Naturally Cleo drives the narrative but it is noteworthy that we get glimpses into other people’s thoughts and actions, those that orbit this by times petulant and at other times wise woman. Many issues are dealt with in the various conversations; femininist concerns, existentialism, the nature of fate, the inevitably of death, but the story is never weighed down its ticking clock ensuring a brisk pace and a light touch as the glamour of Cleo’s life eventually gives way to a deeper truth and more meaningful relationships.
The latter is encapsulated by the brief but intense bond she finds with a soldier primed to head off to war the very same evening. Both characters are under a guillotine of sorts and in this realisation the movie’s most naturalistic moments shine through. A very subtle and winning performance from Antoine Bourseiller and genuine chemistry with the film’s luminous star Corinne Marchand makes the encounter between them the heart of the piece. It’s easy to fall in love with the aesthetics of Cleo From 5 to 7; sumptuous, seductive and hyper stylized, it remains a feast for the eyes but it’s the low key writing, perfectly crafted world and such scenes as the solider meeting which makes it linger and rewards repeat viewings.
Take out all the New Wave trappings, even the cameos by Godard and Anna Karina in a charming silent film sequence, and you’re still left with the simplest of stories, expertly told. It may exist in a place just left of reality, its touchstones being music and the attitudes of its time, but the film hasn’t dated. Its themes transcend its location and tropes and continue to resonate in important ways. A truly beautiful film from a visionary director, a lot can happen in an hour and a half and as we can see here a legacy can be forged.
The Cork French Film Festival sponsored by Bord Gáis Energy runs from 6th to 13th March and features the best of contemporary and classic French cinema selected by Festival Curator Paul Callanan.
The action packed festival presented by Alliance Francaise de Cork boasts a broad programme of contemporary and classic French films, documentaries as well as a series of unique live events including installations, specially commissioned live soundtracks, AV performances, masterclasses and Q&A sessions.
The Festival will pay tribute to the career of one of cinema’s most important living legends, filmmaker and artist Agnès Varda.