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French Rendez Vous in New York

Rendez-Vous with French Cinema
March 12 -21

Rendez-Vous 2004 is presented by the Film Society of Lincoln Center, Unifrance and The French Film Office / Unifrance USA, together with The French Cultural Services. Sponsored by Air France and TV5.

Directors and Actors Attending Rendez-Vous 2004 (Check website for specific showtimes):

• Nathalie Baye, actress, Feelings
• Siegrid Alnoy, director, She’s One of Us
• Grégory Baquet, actor, Grande Ecole
• Gilles Bourdos, director, A Sight for Sore Eyes
• Antoine de Caunes, director, Monsieur N.
• Bruno Dumont, director, Twentynine Palms
• Anne Fontaine, director, Nathalie
• Michael Haneke, director, Time of the Wolf
• Philippe Le Guay, director, The Cost of Living
• Noémie Lvovsky, director, Feelings
• Gilles Marchand, director, Who Killed Bambi?
• Guillaume Nicloux, director, Hanging Offense
• Jocelyn Quivrin, actor, Grande Ecole
• Robert Salis, director, Grande Ecole
• Pierre Salvadori, director, After You
• Philippe Torreton, actor, Monsieur N.
• Lambert Wilson, actor, Not on the Lips
• Elsa Zylberstein, actress, Monsieur N.

Anne Fontaine, 2003; 100m
In NATHALIE - her finest film to date - Anne Fontaine (Dry Cleaning, RDV 1998) uses three of France's greatest actors - Emmanuelle Béart, Fanny Ardant and Gérard Depardieu - to tell an unsettling but deeply moving story about trust and jealousy. Happily married, Bernard and Catherine are a middle-aged couple, financially secure and surrounded by loving friends and family. One day, she hears a message on his cell phone and becomes convinced that he's having an affair - and then begins to plans her revenge. To prove her husband's infidelity, she hires a beautiful prostitute, Nathalie, and then plots to have her meet and seduce Bernard. Life at home continues as it was, as Catherine meets with Nathalie to get progress reports on her plan; gradually, the relationship between the two women begins to deepen, as Catherine is both shocked by and drawn to Nathalie's world. Anne Fontaine makes films in which her characters stand precariously on an emotional high wire - without any nets to cushion their inevitable falls. A selection of the 2003 Toronto Film Festival.
Fri March 12: 1 (SOLD OUT) & 6:15* (SOLD OUT); Sun March 14: 9*(SOLD OUT)

Antoine de Caunes, France/UK, 2003; 127m
After his defeat at Waterloo, Napoléon Bonaparte was exiled to the south Atlantic island St. Helena, where he died a few years later. Or did he…? Using a combination of the historical record and creative speculation based on some curiously unexplained anomalies, Antoine de Caunes has created a fascinating portrait of the Emperor's exile years. Telling his story from the point of view of a British lieutenant assigned to watch over Napoléon (beautifully played by Philippe Torreton), de Caunes depicts the sordid antics of the inner circle of French Army officers who followed Napoléon into exile - their petty jealousies, their scheming, and above all their hope to gain personal advantage (and hopefully profit) by their proximity to the great man. The cold war of nerves between the prisoner and his jailer, an officious British military governor (Richard E. Grant), is also shown, but what lends MONSIEUR N. its particular power is its implication that Napoléon might well have escaped St. Helena in a ruse so well carried out that it has remained undiscovered to this day. A selection of the 2003 Berlin Film Festival. Nominated for Césars for Best Music, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, and Best Art Direction.
Fri March 12: 3:30 & 8:45*; Sun March 14: 3:30*

Guillaume Nicloux, 2003; 100m
Michèle Varin is a police captain working in Fontainebleau, right outside of Paris. A relatively peaceful place, but an unsolved murder there years ago continues to haunt her. Without warning, circumstances of the murder come back to her, even taking over her dreams; she begins to feel that she herself is linked to the murder in some terrifying, indefinable way. An actor and director known especially for her work in comedy, Josiane Balasko here gives her greatest performance; she captures both the tough, no-nonsense professionalism of her character as well as the growing terror that she may be losing her mind. Exquisitely shot by Pierre-William Glenn - lovely wooded landscapes have rarely looked more eerie - HANGING OFFENSE confirms the great promise shown by director Guillaume Nicloux in Le Poulpe (RDV 1999). Nominated for the César for Best Actress, Josiane Balasko.
Sat March 13: 1:30*; Tue March 16: 4 & 9*

Siegfried, 2003; 115m
Pulsing with a raw, ferocious energy, Sansa almost feels as if it were being captured live and beamed right onto the screen. The wonderful actor Roschdy Zem plays the title character, a figure in constant movement always on the lookout for new encounters and new adventures. A longtime collaborator of the director, Zem exudes physical grace and confidence before the camera; dialogue scenes always feel fresh and improvised on the spot. Emma Suarez, Silke, and Valentina Cervi are among the people Sansa will meet during his odyssey, yet clearly his most important encounter is with the musician Click, played by the violinist and composer Ivry Gitlis. It is Click who most causes Sansa to stop for a while and think about where he might actually be going. Gitlis also worked with director Siegfried on the score, a deft combination of classical and contemporary styles that in fact mirrors the film's own very modern updating of a picaresque hero.
A selection of the 2003 Cannes Film Festival's Directors' Fortnight and the 2003 Toronto Film Festival.
Sat March 13: 3:45; Mon March 15: 6

Pierre Salvadori, 2003; 110m
Maitre d' of a Parisian restaurant, Antoine (Daniel Auteuil) leads a fairly carefree, uneventful life. One evening on his way home, he stops a stranger, Louis (Jose Garcia), from committing suicide. Louis is furious - he had everything all planned, and now he's still alive. For his part, Antoine feels a bit guilty for having interfered, so he decides to see what he can do to help him. Within a few weeks, Louis has a new job, a new life, and a new friend in Antoine. But he can't forget Blanche, the love of his life and the woman who drove him to suicide. Antoine sets out to find Blanche, and in fact does find her…only, well, she is really rather stunning…. A dream pairing of two of France's top comic actors, Auteuil and Garcia, After You is an often hilarious look at the rituals of male bonding in some of the most extreme kind of circumstances. Sandrine Kiberlain admirably fills out this comic ménage à trois. Nominated for the César for Best Actor, Daniel Auteuil.
Sat March 13: 6* (SOLD OUT); Mon March 15: 1

Gilles Bourdos, 2004; 137m
At the age of seven, Elise witnessed her mother's brutal murder; at that same age, Bruno was being raised in a violent, dysfunctional home on the outskirts of the city. Years later they're adults, functioning reasonably well but nursing inside each of them these tremendous hurts. A chance meeting brings them together, and after that there's no turning back. Each wants the other to help create some kind of ideal world in which the past can be forgotten - but how high a price are they willing to pay for that fantasy to be made real? Based on the bestselling novel of the same name by Ruth Rendell - whose work has already been adapted for the screen by Pedro Almodóvar (Live Flesh) and Claude Chabrol (La Céremonie) - A SIGHT FOR SORE EYES constantly keeps viewers off balance; just when they think they've figured out where the film is going, it suddenly veers into new territory.
Sat March 13: 8:459 (SOLD OUT)*; Tue March 16: 1

Merzak Allouache, 2003; 90m
CHOUCHOU begins as its title character arrives in Paris and tries to pass himself off as a Chilean exile fleeing the dictatorship; the ruse doesn't work, but Chouchou still gets taken in by a parish priest. Hoping to link up with a nephew already living in Paris, Chouchou tracks him down and finds him - only now he's Vanessa, performing nightly at the Cabaret "Apocalypse." But Vanessa's new world is one that Chouchou already knows quite well himself. A good-natured, sharply observed comedy that delights in pointing out the contradictions, misperceptions and hypocrisies of daily life, CHOUCHOU actually began as a performance piece devised by actor Gad Elmaleh, who had been discovered in director Merzak Allouache's Salut Cousin!; together, the two adapted the piece for the cinema, and the result is one of France's biggest box-office hits of 2003. Nominated for the César for Best Actor, Gad Elmaleh.
Sun March 14: 1:30; Fri March 19: 3:45; Sun March 21: 7

Siegrid Alnoy, 2003; 100m
A strikingly original work, Siegrid Alnoy's debut feature is the story of Christine, 30-something and from all appearances a perfectly average, perfectly normal woman. She works as a temp while looking for something more stable, occasionally visits her parents and is learning to drive. Yet there is always something slightly off about Christine: she always seems to arrive in the middle of a conversation, starts off for one location and winds up elsewhere. Despite the film's title - literally, "she's one of us" - Christine always seems out of place. The world and Christine's perception of it grow increasingly apart, until in one explosive moment all the tension and fury that's been building up inside streams out. Alnoy employs a deliberately jagged style to the film, with sound at times slightly mismatching the image or characters suddenly appearing in odd places somewhat inexplicably. In one extraordinary touch, Christine is interrogated by two policemen who both ask the same questions simultaneously - leading us to wonder whether Christine's experience of the world is uncomfortably close to the truth. A selection of the 2003 Cannes Film Festival's Directors' Fortnight.
Sun March 14: 6:30*; Mon March 15: 3:45 & 8:45*

Gilles Marchand, 2003; 126m
Co-screenwriter on Human Resources and With a Friend Like Harry, Gilles Marchand makes an impressive debut as a director with this haunting thriller. Isabelle (newcomer Sophie Quinton) is a student nurse in the surgical unit of a large, modern hospital. Leaving work one evening, she runs into the handsome Doctor Philipp (Laurent Lucas); suddenly, her feet give way and she finds herself nearly passed out on the floor. An accident, or perhaps a sign of something more serious…. Dr. Philipp insists on examining her more thoroughly, and Isabelle (nicknamed "Bambi" because like the Disney creature she also has trouble standing) at first doesn't mind the extra attention. Yet soon she begins to suspect that there's a whole other side to Dr. Philipp's practice. Exquisitely photographed and designed, the film makes effective use of the contrast between the sterile clinical settings and the sense of dark dread that Marchand keeps bubbling below the surface. As she begins her investigation into the hidden corners of this particular hospital world, more and more is also revealed about Isabelle herself, challenging us to alter our own perceptions of her even as some of her suspicions and fears seemingly prove correct. Caméra d'Or winner at the 2003 Cannes Film Festival and a selection of 2003 Toronto Film Festival. Nominated for the César for Best Promising Actress, Sophie Quinton.
Tue March 16: 6:15* (SOLD OUT); Wed March 17: 3:30

Robert Salis, 2004; 110m
France's "grandes écoles" are its special elite educational institutions; drawing students largely from privileged backgrounds, they are designed to train the leaders of tomorrow. Adapted from the stage play by Jean-Marie Besset, Robert Salis's GRAND ECOLE follows a group of incoming students as they settle into what they hope will be promising futures, but the educations they receive are at least as much "sentimental" as formal. Both hetero and homosexual attractions abound, as do the resulting and emotional confrontations and power games; the film has an extraordinary sensuality, and the physical encounters between its characters are as frank as they are moving. Rather than ignore or hide the work's theatrical origins, Salis - who consulted with the playwright - actually foregrounds a certain kind of theatricality, especially in the dialogue, which often has the feel of the dialogue of classical French theater. Comparisons between GRAND ECOLE and the work of Fassbinder will surely be made - and for once the comparisons will be apt and justified. Director Salis, known primarily as a documentary filmmaker, directed what will be seen as one of year's most provocative films.
Wed March 17: 1 & 6:30*; Sat March 20: 1:30*

Michael Haneke, 2003; 115m
Michael Haneke's TIME OF THE WOLF takes place in the wake of an unspecified catastrophe - we never know the nature or scale of the event, only that something has happened. From there, Haneke does something that no other filmmaker has ever attempted - he shows us, in precise detail, a possible future in which everything but the logic of survival is beside the point. How do people who've been thrown together by circumstance live under the same roof? How do you keep a light source going in pitch darkness when all you have are a lighter and a stack of hay? How do you behave when you meet the man who killed your husband? The overwhelming dominance of the material world in Haneke's film is forceful in and of itself - there are scenes that take place in the darkest, blackest night you've ever seen in movies - but a brilliant cast, led by Isabelle Huppert and including Patrice Chéreau and Olivier Gourmet, gives the film a powerfully human dimension. TIME OF THE WOLF is a movie of uncommon, hard-working intelligence. An Official Selection of the 2003 Cannes Film Festival and the 2003 Toronto Film Festival, Masters.
Wed March 17: 9*; Thurs March 18: 6:15*

Noémie Lvovsky, 2003; 94m
"Noémie Lvovsky's new film is arresting, charming and brash, unafraid to try new things. On the surface, its plot is fairly conventional: two newlyweds, deeply in love, move to the country so that the husband can take over the practice of a retiring doctor. The young couple (Melvil Poupaud and Isabelle Carré) sets up house adjacent to the home of the retiree and his wife (Jean-Pierre Bacri and Nathalie Baye). While the women bond, the older man shows the newcomer around and introduces him to his patients. But Lvovsky takes a bold step that turns FEELINGS into something far more ambitious: she introduces a Greek chorus, which throughout the film sings pertinent songs with lyrics that Lvovsky wrote set to music by Jeff Cohen and Philippe Roueche. As in Greek theater, this chorus provides a commentary on the action in which the mortals are engaged; its detached, third-person perspective adds a fascinating dimension to a time-honored plot of amorous intrigue and betrayal. The events unfold so that two and two make four - but not necessarily in the original configuration." - Piers Handling, 2004 Catalogue Toronto International Film Festival
A selection of the 2003 Venice Film Festival and the 2003 Toronto Film Festival. Winner of the Prix Louis Delluc. Nominated for Césars for Best Actor, Jean-Pierre Bacri and for Best Actress, Nathalie Baye and Isabelle Carré.
Thurs March 18: 1; Sat March 20: 4:10* (SOLD OUT); Sun March 21: 4:30* (SOLD OUT)

Philippe Le Guay, 2003; 110m
Director Philippe Le Guay made a powerful impression at Rendez-Vous 2001 with Three By Eight / Trois Huit, his searing look at male hazing; he returns to the series with a lively comedy that's no less insightful about contemporary life. THE COST OF LIVING is a film about money - who has it, how they want to spend it, how they plan to keep it - or get rid of it. With an excellent cast featuring the likes of Fabrice Luchini, Vincent Lindon, Isild Le Besco and Claude Rich, Le Guay weaves together five stories all happening over a few days in Lyon. An industrialist decides to sell off his factories, even though it will put a community out of work; a young heiress wants to be sure she's loved for herself and not her money; a skinflint devises ever stranger ways to avoid paying bills. According to the director, "One might say that money is like a litmus test. It can reveal our secret fears and desires, as well as bring out the violence that each of us contains within ourselves." A selection of the 2003 Montreal Film Festival. Nominated for the César for Best Supporting Actress, Géraldine Pailhas.
Thurs March 18: 3:15 & 9*; Fri March 19: 9*

Alain Resnais, 2003; 115m
We're honored to present the U.S. premiere of the new film of Alain Resnais as part of this year's Rendez-Vous. One of cinema's most creative directors, Alain Resnais has focused much of his work over the past twenty years (since Mélo) on exploring the relationship between film and theater; here, Resnais continues his research with an absolutely delightful adaptation to the screen of a 1925 French operetta by André Barde and Maurice Yvain. Gilberte (Sabine Azema) lives a comfortable, contented life in her plush Parisian apartment at the side of her industrialist husband, Georges (Pierre Arditi). Unknown to Georges, Gilberte had in fact been married once before: while traveling in the U.S., she had a whirlwind romance and marriage to an American, Eric Thompson, but they split up within days and the marriage was never recognized by the French consul. Only Gilberte's unmarried sister, Arlette (Isabelle Nanty), knows the truth. Then one day, Georges comes home and announces he's about to strike a deal with a fabulously wealthy American named Eric Thompson (Lambert Wilson), who's on his way to Paris. Resnais and his remarkable cast (which also includes Audrey Tautou and Jalil Lespert) perfectly capture with razor-sharp accuracy the rhythms, gestures, takes and double-takes of the piece; the songs blend brilliantly with the action, and even during the wildest moments the film never loses sight of the emotional issues at stake. Nominated for Césars for Best French Film; Best Director, Alain Resnais; Best Supporting Actor, Darry Cowl; Best Supporting Actress, Isabelle Nanty; Best Music; Best Art Direction; Best Sound; Best Editing; and Best Costume Design.
Fri March 19: 1 & 6:15* (SOLD OUT); Sat March 20: 9:30* (SOLD OUT)

Bruno Dumont, 2003; 119m
"Bruno Dumont has quickly risen to the top ranks of international filmmakers on the basis of two stark and striking films, La Vie de Jesus and L'Humanité…For TWENTYNINE PALMS, his remarkable third feature, Dumont has followed a number of illustrious European predecessors into the desert landscapes of America to produce a film of extraordinary power and great beauty…. David is a relaxed, nonchalant American, while his traveling companion Katia is prone to sudden bouts of depression and erratic behaviour. Neither speaks the other's language - David speaks English and Katia, an Eastern European, speaks only French - so they communicate through sexual encounters, thus managing to transcend the dysfunction that becomes a regular part of their daily exchanges…. The film is steeped in the primal: whimpers, groans, cries, and panting abound throughout the soundtrack; sand, rock, highway, sky and water dominate the visuals. These elements make Dumont's emotional exploration of sex, the couple's relationship, language and communication all the more complex and suggestive." Piers Handling, 2004 Toronto International Film Festival Catalogue. A selection of 2003 Venice Film Festival and the 2003 Toronto Film Festival.
Sat March 20: 6:30* (SOLD OUT); Sun March 21: 9*

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