Easter bank holiday: please check our opening hours by clicking here.
French cinema is as varied and vital as ever in 2014, and this year’s edition of Rendez- Vous with French Cinema covers the wide spectrum from engaging entertainments like Albert Dupontel’s 9 Month Stretch to the works of art house favourite Jean-Pierre Jeunet (Amélie), and master filmmakers Alain Resnais and Bertrand Tavernier. With the best and latest French offerings screening alongside restored versions of classic films at Ciné Lumière, Curzon Soho, and throughout the UK, this is one cinematic rendezvous that you definitely should not miss.
This year’s edition pays tribute to the late and great Alain Resnais, a director of unmatched distinction and elegance, whose works awed and amazed, or shocked and unnerved, but never left audiences indifferent. In addition to his last film, Life of Riley, an audacious adaptation of the work of British playwright Alan Ayckbourn with staggering performances by an all-star ensemble cast, we will be screening the restored print of his landmark of the French New Wave, the multi-award-winning Hiroshima mon amour.
Families are also invited to indulge in French cinematic treats, with a preview screening of Belle and Sebastian, a film about a lonely boy and a wild dog during World War II, and more.
Confirmed guests include:
- Helena Bonham-Carter & director Jean-Pierre Jeunet (The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet, Sun 27 Apr, Ciné Lumière)
- Actor Terry Gilliam, and director and actor Albert Dupontel (9 Month Stretch, Mon 28 Apr, Ciné Lumière)
- Actors Hippolyte Girardot & Caroline Silhol (Life of Riley, Sat 26 Apr, Ciné Lumière)
- Actor Raphaël Personnaz (Quai d’Orsay, Mon 28 Apr, Ciné Lumière)
- Actress Fanny Ardant and director Marion Vernoux (Bright Days Ahead, Wed 23 Apr, Curzon Soho)
- Director Martin Provost (Violette, Fri 25 Apr at Curzon Soho & Sat 26 Apr at Arts Picturehouse)
- Director Agnes B. (My Name is Hmmm…, Thu 24 Apr, Curzon Soho)
Only screenings at Ciné Lumière are listed on the right column.
For the full programme of the festival, see below.
Based on the life and work of the Russian film director Alexander Medvedkin (1900-1989), The Last Bolshevik is a tribute from one filmmaker to another. An archaeological expedition into film history that reveals new cinematic treasures, the film prompts a reflection on the relation between art and politics in the former Soviet Union, and captures the commitment, energy, struggles, illusions and disillusions of a believing but never naïve Bolshevik.
Chris Marker draws a panorama of the artistic, political, and moral universe of a life and a country, bringing it right up to date with his own vision of Russia today.
The new Reading Room will be the perfect setting to host a series of events marking its reopening and unveiling its amazing renovation.
Weaving together past, present, and future in the same way that La Médiathèque has carefully preserved its gorgeous historical features while looking to the digital age, this series will kick off with our Inaugural Pop-Up on 16 May, followed a few days later by a playful reflection on Franco-British relations in the form of a
theatrical duel, as part of our current theatre series, En Scène! (20-21 May)
Next up, our conference in collaboration with the Musée de la Grande Guerre du Pays de Meaux, Britain Joins the War, invites you to reflect on the past and mark the centenary of World War I (27 May).
Look towards a future of sleepless nights with our third event, Noir Is the Colour, as you discover the terrifying genius of noir masters Pierre Lemaitre and John Harvey (29 May).
To celebrate the reopening of our listed Reading Room, and show off the masterful renovation work that has been carried out, we are thrilled to present a free Inaugural Pop-Up, an evening of exciting events ranging from literature to theatre and music, not to mention digital discoveries and classy cocktails!
First up, Marianne Badrichani and her company will lead you on their Literary Ball, an immersive theatrical experience with music, performances, workshops, games and surprises that will make you rediscover the Reading Room in a fun and innovative way.
Once you’ve had a twirl with Baudelaire and discovered the nooks and crannies of the Reading Room with Hugo, step into our Pianocktail Bar. Named after Vian’s invention in Foam of the Days, this pop-up piano bar specialised in literary cocktails will take place in our in-house Bistrot. There will be a 10% discount of all cocktails for members of the Institut français, so join today!
The books of La Médiathèque come to life as we invite you to enter the fictional universes of two literary greats, Boris Vian and Marguerite Duras. Our Reading Group will focus on Vian’s L’Ecume des jours (Foam of the Days) and explore Vian’s views on love, death, sickness and…jazz. During the talk 100 Years of Duras, five female writers will discuss Marguerite Duras’s legacy and her influence on their writing: Suzanne Joinson (A Lady Cyclist’s Guide to Kashgar), Olivia Laing (To the River), Zoe Pilger (Eat My Heart Out), Joanna Walsh (Fractals), and Deborah Levy (Swimming Home). The authors will be signing their books after the talk, so please make sure you bring along your copies to have them signed!
Throughout the evening, you’ll also be able to wander around the library to discover for yourself the changes wrought by the renovation. While you’re at it, why not become a member? Our special Pop-Up Offer will make the opportunity even more tempting… and the chance to borrow books on the spot might make it irresistible!
All the events are free and in English. Places are limited and subject to availability. Booking is required for the Reading Group and 100 Years of Duras.
To book, please email email@example.com specifying which event you’d like to attend and how many tickets you require.
Got questions? Please email firstname.lastname@example.org
6.00pm Literary Ball – Free
6.30pm Reading Group: L’Ecume des jours, Boris Vian – Free, reservation compulsory
7.00pm Literary Ball – Free
8.00pm Literary Ball – Free
8.15pm 100 Years of Duras – Free, reservation compulsory
When Nacho, a veterinarian, gets into trouble attempting to sell heifers to his father-in-law, he desperately tries to raise money, turning to all the women he thinks can help him. With an outstanding performance by Eduard Fernández, Barroso shows great skill in penetrating the emotions of a fortysomething man painfully struggling to overcome a difficult situation and realising his real fears and emotions. A superb portrait blending criticism with compassion and supported by the remarkable work of all the actresses.
Ana is 28 and works in an emergency ambulance service. Although she feels good about helping others daily, she has trouble relating to people outside her work and has a difficult relationship with her mother, with whom she lives, and her boyfriend. She can be aggressive as well as hurt herself… Marian Alvarez gives an outstanding and complex performance – which won her the Goya Award for Best Actress – of a mentally unstable woman fighting to overcome her issues.
This superb and complex psychological thriller won Sergi López the César Award for Best Actor in France for his nuanced performance of an obsessed psychopath. The film tells us of the turn Michel’s life takes when he meets Harry, who decides to take care, with extraordinary zeal, of Michel and everything that distracts him from writing. Who needs enemies with a friend like Harry?
Preceded by an on-stage interview with actor Sergi López and Prof. Maria Delgado (Queen Mary) (tbc)
With a flavour of French New Wave films, Jonás Trueba shows how a group of twenty-somethings try to cope creatively with unemployment and the hesitant romance between Sofía and wannabe filmmaker León. The film is at the same time a meditation on life, pre-digital days and filmmaking, as well as, as in Trueba’s previous and first feature film, Todas las canciones hablan de mí, an homage to his city, Madrid.
Followed by a Q&A with director Jonás Trueba (tbc)
Set in the desolate landscape of a Barcelona suburb, Little Indi is about an introverted teenager who lives in a universe of his own, concerned only with two things: getting his mother out of prison and raising song birds. With a quiet pace and impressive photography, Marc Recha leads us through the emotions and disappointments of a young teenager learning about the predatory nature of both animals and humans.
Introduced by actors Sergi López and Eulàlia Ramón (tbc)
In 1966, an English teacher, Antonio, who uses Beatles songs to teach, drives to Almeria with the hope of meeting his hero John Lennon, who is shooting a film there. Inspired by a true story, Vivir es fácil con los ojos cerrados is an optimistic and delightful comedy set in a particularly difficult historical moment. It won several Goya awards, including Best Film, Best Director and Best Actor.
Followed by a Q&A (tbc)
When Jon is expelled from school, his single mother decides to send him to live with her father Max, a retired soldier who believes he can fix his grandson with his own style of discipline. The initially difficult relationship between the rebellious teenager and his strict grandfather turns with time into one of trust in which both learn to face their fears. An honest story about the fragility of family relationships and youth led by a solid, excellent performance by Maribel Verdú as Jon’s mother, the film benefits as well from Querejeta’s usual witty inflection.
Before celebrating the 10th edition of the London Spanish Film Festival in September, we once again bring to London audiences a Spring Weekend from 16 to 18 May with some recent Spanish films including David Trueba’s absolute winner at this year’s Goya awards celebration, Living Is Easy with Eyes Closed, as well as some excellent films from the past year not to be missed.
In parallel to this line-up of recent productions, we are happy to host the third instalment of the Acting Across Frontiers section which will look at the work across European frontiers of actor Sergi López, who will join us for a unique on-stage interview.
From Cannes award-winning director Amat Escalante comes controversial drama Heli, the story of an older brother who struggles to protect his family from Mexico’s drugs and violence culture. Newcomer Armando Espita stars as Heli whose naïve younger sister Estella (Andrea Vergara) inadvertently involves the family in the brutal Mexican drug world when she allows an older boyfriend to hide drugs in their house. Heli is left fighting to save his family, both from the violent drug cartel and the corrupt police force that should be protecting them.
Winner of Best Director Award at Cannes Film Festival 2013
Director Axelle Ropert (The Wolberg Family) places a burgeoning family rivalry at the heart of this witty, passionate, beautifully observed drama. Sibling doctors Boris and Dimitri share a paediatric practice in the 13th arrondissement of Paris. But their fraternal bonds and professional relationship are tested when they take on a young diabetic patient and both fall for the girl’s lovely single mother (Louise Bourgoin). The possibility of sharing a life with this woman and her daughter represents something quite different for each brother, and an offbeat love triangle is set in place. With serious issues of the heart and the human body at stake, Miss and the Doctors manages to remain wonderfully lighthearted and buoyant.
Continues in June
Anthony Chen’s Caméra d’Or-winning Ilo Ilo (Cannes 2013) is a delicate but devastating study of a modern affluent family and its vulnerabilities. Set in Singapore during the 1997 Asian financial crisis, it chronicles the day-to-day drama of the Lim family – troublesome grade- schooler Jiale and his overstressed parents, Heck and Leng. Comfortably middle-class and with another baby on the way, they hire Teresa, a Filipino immigrant, as a live-in maid and nanny. An outsider in both the family and Singapore itself, Teresa initially struggles to manage Jiale’s antics and find her footing in her new community. The two eventually form a unique bond, but just as Teresa becomes an unspoken part of the family, unforeseen circumstances in an uncertain economy will challenge the new normal yet again.
Writer/director Philippe Claudel re-teams with Kristin Scott Thomas for a disconcertingly original and passionate drama. In a superb, poignant performance, Daniel Auteuil stars as Paul who becomes torn between a loving wife, Lucie, and a mysterious young woman, Lou.
Erik Poppe’s arresting drama stars Juliette Binoche as Rebecca, a dedicated war photographer torn between passionate involvement with her work and commitment to her worried family. We are in Kabul, accompanying a woman about to unleash death and destruction. The operation is being captured on film by Rebecca. But this time Rebecca very nearly loses her life… Her husband and daughters give her an ultimatum: her work or her family.
This Hitchcock-influenced thriller is considered one of Truffaut’s finest works and offers exceptional performances by the three leads. Pierre is a married, middle aged author who begins an affair with an attractive air stewardess while on a lecture tour in Portugal. However, when his wife discovers his infidelity, she seeks revenge.
Offering a truly sensuous cinematic experience, Ma nuit chez Maud stars Jean-Louis Trintignant as an engineer in his early 30s, who one day notices a young woman in church and resolves to marry her. A devout Catholic, his determination is shaken when he is introduced by his friend Vidal, a Marxist professor of philosophy, to the beautiful, free-spirited Maud, a recent divorcee with a young daughter.
Fed up with his wife and Paris, Jean- Paul Belmondo heads for the south of France with old flame Anna Karina, a gangster’s moll. Based on Lionel White’s novel Obsession, but mostly improvised as Godard was inspired by locations on route to the South, this is one of the director’s very best films – a bewildering blend of genres and visual styles, shot in sun- splashed colour by Raoul Coutard, with a cameo by tough-guy director Sam Fuller and an explosive finale. ‘Pierrot le Fou isn’t really a film’ said Godard on its release, ‘it’s an attempt at cinema.’
Preceded by an introduction and followed by a Ciné Salon
You may also like Vivre sa vie
Chabrol’s debut feature is a powerful examination of male friendship and its consequences with Jean-Claude Brialy as a student who returns from Paris to his childhood home to find that his once- brilliant friend has become an alcoholic after the loss of a child. A bleak and beautifully observed picture of provincial life, Le Beau Serge is generally regarded as the film that launched the New Wave.
From April, our Sunday French Classics season is every New Wave fan’s dream, with screenings of the greats including films by Resnais, Godard, Truffaut, Rohmer, and Chabrol.
Don’t forget to express your views with our monthly Ciné Salons with Nick Walker, a chance to discuss the film you’ve just seen and enjoy a free cup of coffee.
The Sunday French Classics are supported by
You may also like Chris Marker: Memories of a Film Pioneer
A cornerstone film of the French New Wave, Alain Resnais’ multi-award- winning Hiroshima mon amour is one of the most influential films of all time. A French actress and a Japanese architect engage in a brief, intense affair in postwar Hiroshima. Utilising an innovative flashback structure and an Academy Award-nominated screenplay by novelist Marguerite Duras, Resnais delicately weaves past and present, in a modernist masterpiece that defies easy analysis.
Introduced by Ian Christie (Birkbeck, University of London)
Not just a defining work of the French New Wave but one of the great, lasting mysteries of modern art, the late Alain Resnais’ epochal L’Année dernière à Marienbad has been puzzling appreciative viewers for decades. Written by radical master of the New Novel Alain Robbe-Grillet, this surreal fever dream, or nightmare, gorgeously fuses the past with the present.
Preceded by an introduction and followed by a Ciné Salon and a book sale of Alain Robbe-Grillet’s novels.
Faced with a failed relationship and a dead-end job, Nana leaves her family behind to pursue an acting career, but instead slips into a life of prostitution on the streets of Paris. Told in twelve Brechtian tableaux and filmed in an austere, documentary-like style, Vivre sa vie is one of Godard’s most beautifully designed and deeply felt films, anchored by Karina’s astonishing lead performance and Raoul Coutard’s breathtaking cinematography of street-level Paris.
You may also like Pierrot le fou
The world’s first movie about kids in global cinema, A Story of Children and Film is an eye opener, a landmark film and a celebration of both childhood and the movies. It’s a passionate, poetic portrait of the adventures of childhood – its surrealism, loneliness, fun, destructiveness and stroppiness – as seen through 53 great films from 25 countries. It includes classic movies like E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and The Red Balloon, and lesser-known gems.
Official selection, Cannes 2013
Master of indie Wes Anderson is back with his best film to date, an exhilarating and intelligent comedy, The Grand Budapest Hotel. It recounts the adventures of Gustave H., a legendary concierge at a famous European hotel between the wars, and Zero Moustafa, the lobby boy who becomes his most trusted friend. The story involves the theft and recovery of a priceless Renaissance painting and the battle for an enormous family fortune – all against the back-drop of a changing Continent.
An intensely moving portrait of a relationship from beginning to end, propelled by a soundtrack of foot- stomping bluegrass, The Broken Circle Breakdown is a romantic melodrama of the highest order. Elise and Didier have been together for seven passionate years. When their little girl Maybelle must face a serious illness, all the turning points in their intense and moving relationship seem to flash by. But as the stress and sorrow of Maybelle’s treatment takes its toll, Didier and Elise begin to respond in different ways.
Operatic in emotional scope, and novelistic in structure, Nymphomaniac is a sexually- charged odyssey told in double bill format across two volumes. This is an epic, ground-breaking cinema experience, the wild and poetic story of a woman’s journey from birth to the age of 50 as told by the main character, the self-diagnosed nymphomaniac Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg).
Set in contemporary Iran, Facing Mirrors is a story of an unlikely and daring friendship that develops despite social norms and religious beliefs. Although Rana is a traditional wife and mother, she is forced to drive a cab to pay off the debt that keeps her husband in prison. By chance she picks up the wealthy and rebellious Edi, who is desperately awaiting a passport to leave the country. At first Rana attempts to help, but when she realizes that Edi is transgender, a dangerous series of conflicts arises. Directed by Negar Azarbayjani, Facing Mirrors is the first narrative film from Iran to feature a transgender main character.
You may also like The Past
Director Asghar Farhadi returns with this subtle and beautiful new film starring Bérénice Bejo and Tahar Rahim. Following a four year separation, Ahmad comes back to Paris from Tehran in order to finalise his divorce with Marie. He discovers the conflicted nature of Marie’s relationship with her daughter, unveiling a secret from their past…
You may also like Facing Mirrors
Our story takes place in the Alps, high up in a peaceful village – until the day the Germans arrive. It’s the story of a lonely boy and a wild dog. It’s the story of Sebastian who tames Belle. It’s the adventure of an indestructible friendship. It’s the odyssey of a little boy looking for his mother, an old man looking for his past, a member of the Resistance looking for love, a young woman looking for adventure, a German lieutenant looking for forgiveness.
£8, conc. £6
Inspired by real events, The Informant is a gripping crime thriller from screenwriter Abdel Raouf Dafri (A Prophet) and director Julien Leclercq (The Assault). In order to free his family from financial worries, Marc Duval, a Frenchman expatriated to Gibraltar, becomes a spy for French customs. He progressively wins the trust of Claudio Lanfredi, a powerful cocaine importer tied to the dangerous Columbian cartels. This in-depth immersion in the world of drug trafficking forces Marc to take increasing risks. But, as he rises in the cartel hierarchy, he also discovers easy money, temptation and a luxury lifestyle.
Award-winning thriller Tom at the Farm follows a young ad executive who travels to the country for a funeral and discovers that no one there knows his name or his relationship with the deceased. In order to protect the family’s name and grieving mother, Tom now has to play to the rules of a twisted game in a household whose obscure past bodes even greater darkness for his trip to the farm.
To announce the Musée de la Grande Guerre du Pays de Meaux’s exhibition on the British entry to the war (28 June – 29 December), Hew Strachan, Chichele Professor of the History of War at All Souls College (University of Oxford), will give a talk and reveal how the British Expeditionary Force played a decisive role on the Front. It will be preceded by a short presentation on the Musée de la Grande Guerre du Pays de Meaux given by its director Michel Rouger, and followed by a recital by the Calliopée musical ensemble (directed by Karine Lethiec) featuring works by British and French composers from that time.
In English | Free | Booking essential: email@example.com
In this talk, organised by Sciences Po Alumni UK and Londres Accueil, Bérénice Guyot-Réchard (SciencesPo Alumna and Research Fellow Emmanuel College, Cambridge University) will retrace Asia’s complex experiences of the Second World War – unveiling an often ignored dimension of this global conflict.
£5 | in English | Booking: firstname.lastname@example.org
Your heart is beating, your palms are sweaty. You hear a creak in the floorboards, the eerie howl of a lone dog. You shiver, you sweat. But mostly, you keep turning the pages, reading as fast as you can, while contemplating with dread the ever-approaching end. You are in the throes of perdition, in thrall to a dangerously addictive and singularly powerful genre: Noir. It comes in many shades – Nordic, neo, Tartan – but it reigns supreme. To celebrate the renaissance of the genre and help you discover its French masters, we are happy to launch our new series of literary talks, ‘Noir Is the Colour’, featuring the best French authors of crime-fiction and noir-writing in conversation with their counterparts from the UK and Europe. The launch event will take place in the newly renovated library and will star Prix Goncourt winner Pierre Lemaitre in conversation with King of Crime John Harvey, who, on the occasion of the publication of their respective novels Irène (MacLehose Press) and Darkness, Darkness (Random House), will uncover the codes and challenges of noir-writing.
Barry Forshaw (journalist, author of British Crime Writing: An Encyclopedia and Euro Noir released on 29 May) will chair the event.
£10, conc. £8, students £5 | in English
Bertrand Tavernier’s adaptation of the hit graphic novel on French foreign minister (and later prime minister) Dominique de Villepin is a sparkling and savvy political comedy. Arthur (Raphaël Personnaz), a graduate of all the right schools, is the new speechwriter for the Minister of Foreign Affairs (a hilarious Thierry Lhermitte). While he tries to navigate internal politics, the various strong personalities around him (such as a ruthless policy advisor played by Julie Gayet), and the stress of finding the Minister’s ‘voice’, Arthur must also write a speech for the Minister that will hopefully put them both in the history books. But he also has to learn to deal with the sensibilities of the boss and his entourage, and find his place at Quai d’Orsay, the ministry’s home. Quai d’Orsay takes us for a breathless ride through the halls of French government.
Followed by a Q&A with actor Raphaël Personnaz
Albert Dupontel’s second feature is a visually inventive, high-energy black comedy starring French favourite Sandrine Kiberlain and Dupontel himself. When Ariane Felder, an uptight and resolutely single high court judge with very strict morals, discovers that she is pregnant, it comes as quite a shock. But what is even more surprising is that, according to the paternity test, the father of the child is none other than Bob, a slow-witted criminal being prosecuted for a violent crime. Ariane does not remember a thing and tries to work out how it could have happened and what the future might hold.
Best Actress Award for Sandrine Kiberlain, César 2014
Followed by a Q&A with actor Terry Gilliam & director and actor Albert Dupontel
Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s (Amélie) adaptation of Reif Larsen’s best-selling novel is an amusing, poignant and visually stunning feature designed to delight young and old alike. Tecumseh Sparrow Spivet is only ten, but he already knows so much that he could easily be thirty years older. Gifted with a lively imagination, insatiable curiosity and prodigious gifts of observation, he appears to be Montana’s answer to Leonardo da Vinci. Instead of staying home and biding his time, he decides to leave for Washington, alone, to compare his intuitions and research with the country’s top scientists. But while on the road, pondering insoluble questions such as ‘How can human beings produce so many right angles, when their behaviour is so illogical?’, he keeps thinking of the family he left behind on a ranch in Montana…
Followed by a Q&A with Helena Bonham-Carter and director Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Resnais’ last feature is an ebullient, beautifully stylised adaptation of the work of British playwright Alan Ayckbourn – whom he turned to twice before – aided by a dazzling ensemble cast. In the English countryside, the life of three couples is disturbed by a character we shall constantly hear about but never see: the enigmatic George Riley. The terminally ill man is the focus for various people affected by his life: his best friend Jack (Michel Vuillermoz), urges George’s estranged young wife Monica (Sandrine Kiberlain) to return to her ailing husband during the final six months of his life; meanwhile, George’s doctor Colin (Hippolyte Girardot) attempts to obscure news of George’s illness from his gossipy wife (Sabine Azéma), who spends much of her time reflecting on life with Jack’s partner (Caroline Silhol). With a blatantly fictitious studio setting and purposely mannered performances, Resnais once again exposes the quotidian deceptions of suburban couples.
Followed by a Q&A with playwright Alan Ayckbourn (tbc) and actors Hippolyte Girardot & Caroline Silhol
These very rarely screened early film essays by the maestro of the form are shown here in stunning new restorations and establish two key poles of his work, constant travel and an enduring interrogation of the image, and that of others.
If I Had Four Camels (Si j’avais quatre dromadaires, 1966)
Letters from Siberia (Lettres de Sibérie, 1957)