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Fisco's French Cinema Now to close with The Class (cannes winner)

The San Francisco Film Society, in association with the French-American Cultural Society, the French Consulate of San Francisco and Unifrance USA, presents French Cinema Now (October 8 - 12, Landmark's Clay Theatre), a five-day festival dedicated to celebrating the best in contemporary French cinema. This new addition to the Film Society's fall programming debuts in style with Arnaud Desplechin in attendance to introduce his latest on October 8, and Laurent Cantet's Cannes Palme d'Or winner closing the series on October 12.

Wednesday, October 8 Opening Night
A Christmas Tale (Une conte de Noël)
Arnaud Desplechin in person

Perhaps the most celebrated of contemporary French directors, Arnaud Desplechin (In the Company of Men, SFIFF 2004; Kings and Queen, SFIFF 2005) returns with another of his glorious family dramas. In this Cannes special jury prize winner, Desplechin tells the story of a family Christmas get-together -- and brings to it his own verve and dizzying but delicious complexity. Emotionally resonant and wickedly funny, the film stars Catherine Deneuve as the cool matriarch of a fascinatingly dysfunctional family and Desplechin regular Mathieu Amalric (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, the upcoming Quantum of Solace) as her estranged, unstable son. The family, crowded together under the same roof, finds its solidarity quickly -- and hilariously -- devolving into feuding, drunkenness and bed-hopping, as everyone struggles to make sense of the mysteries of life and what lies ahead. Other French cinema luminaries such as Chiara Mastroianni (Love Songs, Prêt-à-Porter), Emmanuelle Devos (Kings and Queen, The Beat That My Heart Skipped) and Hippolyte Girardot round out the expert ensemble cast. With the breadth of an epic novel and the wit of classic comedy, Desplechin proves once again that he is one of the most engagingly ambitious filmmakers of his time. "It filled me with unadulterated joy," writes the New York Times' A.O. Scott. Written by Arnaud Desplechin, Emmanuel Bourdieu. Photographed by Eric Gautier. With Catherine Deneuve, Mathieu Almaric, Chiara Mastroianni, Jean-Paul Roussillon. (152 min, IFC Films)




Sunday, October 12 Closing Night
The Class (Entre les murs)

Laurent Cantet's new film, The Class, is a bracing corrective to the standard classroom drama, taking the viewer into a particularly lively school set in the tough, multiethnic Paris neighborhood of the 20th arrondissement for the full cycle of a school year. Working mostly with nonprofessional actors in the roles of the school's students, teachers, counselors, principals and parents, Cantet (Time Out, SFIFF 2002) and collaborator/lead actor François Bégaudeau (adapting his acclaimed book about his teaching experiences in Paris) workshopped and improvised the drama over the course of a year. Much of the dialogue and many of the situations in The Class come directly from this lengthy creative process, creating an astonishingly rich slice of life, by turns hilarious and harrowing. But though it has the feeling of a documentary, the film remains fiction, with the students playing characters far from their own experience, vividly and passionately portraying the dilemmas, contradictions and complexities of both teaching and learning. Unanimously voted the Palme d'Or at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival -- the first French film to win the award in over 20 years -- The Class is "utterly engrossing from start to finish," says Geoff Andrew of Time Out London. "And the kids are terrific." Written by Laurent Cantet, François Bégaudeau, Robin Campillo. Photographed by Pierre Milon, Catherine Pujol, Georgi Lazarevski. With François Bégaudeau, Franck Keita, Rachel Régulier, Wei Huang. (128 min, Sony Pictures Classics)

The complete French Cinema Now screening schedule and ticket information will be announced September 9.

For more information please visit www.sffs.org


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