CLAUDE SAUTET FOCUS
We are delighted to present four memorable features by writer/director Claude Sautet (1924-2000). Sautet started to direct relatively late in life, after a long apprenticeship as a film critic and screenwriter. Each of his films is a carefully crafted drama, with subtle, tender observations often on the lives of small groups of people through fragments from their daily life – their friendships, loves and intimacies. Often overlooked outside of France, Sautet’s elegant films tell simple stories where nothing and everything happens. Pursuing the same themes throughout his career, he collaborated again and again with many of the greats – Romy Schneider, Michel Piccoli, Yves Montand, Daniel Auteuil and Emmanuelle Béart.
DANGER AHEAD – Saturday 16th: 13.30
Sautet’s second feature, a fatalistic film noir, adapted from a novel by José Giovanni, sees Abel Davos (Lino Ventura), a gangster on the run, journeying home to France with his wife and children. In Nice he meets Eric Stark (a young Belmondo co-starring here immediately after Breathless), a new mob recruit sent to accompany Abel on the final stretch. “This early Sautet makes us feel compassionate toward the robber/gangster played matter-of-factly by Ventura, while abhorred at his cruelty in seeking vengeance. This portrait, filled with honesty and humility, is what makes this film so powerful and timeless.” — John Woo.
VINCENT, FRANÇOIS, PAUL AND THE OTHERS – Saturday 23rd: 13.30
The biggest public success of Sautet’s career, this is a melancholic and richly textured portrait of three lifelong friends grappling with being fifty, supporting each other in marital situations, break-ups, and professional and financial troubles. Shot during the 1974 presidential campaign that led to the election of Valérie Giscard d’Estaing, it presents a moving and accurate portrait of an era in French society showing men’s turmoil and women’s emancipation. With an
all-star cast that features Yves Montant (Vincent), Michel Piccoli (François), Serge Reggiani (Paul) and a young Gérard Depardieu, in the role of an aspiring professional boxer.
THE THINGS OF LIFE – Sunday 17th: 13.30
Middle-aged Parisian architect Pierre (Michel Piccoli), victim of a violent car crash, lies waiting for an ambulance. Drifting in an out of consciousness, his life flashes before him, as we learn of the mistakes he has made, moments of joy, and the choice he must make between two lovers. Chronology is fractured by voice-over and reverse slow-motion, flashbacks, speeding up or leaping back in time. This masterfully crafted romantic melodrama is accompanied by a gem of a score by Philippe Sarde. Sautet’s widespread acclaim cemented a partnership with actors Michel Piccoli and Romy Schneider, and screenwriter Jean-Loup Dabadie.
A HEART IN WINTER – Sunday 24th: 13.20
Middle-aged Stéphane (Daniel Auteuil) – of a single and solitary nature – makes and repairs violins in his Paris shop with friend and business partner Maxime (André Dussollier), an extrovert, with marital troubles. Maxime reveals his love of Camille (Emmanuelle Béart), a beautiful, gifted violinist. When the reserved Stéphane meets Camille, there is an immediate connection and an emotional love triangle ensues. Winner of five prizes at the 1992 Venice Film Festival, including Silver Lion for Best Director, and two César Awards, this is a subtle, profound reflection on love, desire, and emotional conflict, mirrored by the music of Maurice Ravel.
ALICE GUY-BLACHÉ PROGRAMME
We are delighted to celebrate the remarkable, pioneering work of filmmaker Alice Guy-Blaché (1873-1968) with the documentary portrait Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché by Pamela B. Green, and a selection of six short films directed by Guy-Blaché from the Gaumont Pathé Archives which will be peppered throughout the festival before main features. Alice Guy-Blaché, aka ‘Mademoiselle Alice’ was one of the most prolific filmmakers of early cinema, with a career in France and the USA spanning 1896-1920, and a staggering output of more than 1,000 films. For her, cinema was a process of exploration and discovery, open to all styles, formats and genres. She directed dramas, westerns and slapstick comedies (before Chaplin or Keaton!); and numerous action films with female heroes. She asked her actors to ‘be natural’, eliciting performances that transformed the art of screen acting. She captured this through close-ups, and an emphasis on body movement and facial expression. Guy-Blaché’s films were often shot on location, accomplishing sophisticated scenes and radical stunts, while later she even built her own studios. A true pioneer, Mademoiselle Alice wrote, produced and directed many of her films – ‘auteur cinema’ 70 years before the New Wave.
BE NATURAL: THE UNTOLD STORY OF ALICE GUY-BLACHÉ – Sunday 24th: 14.00
This insightful documentary follows Alice’s rise, from Gaumont secretary to her appointment as Head of Production, and her illustrious 20-year career in France and the US, founding her own studio, and writing, directing and producing more than 1,000 films. Narrated by Jodie Foster, the film is a journey through her work and an insight into family, friends and colleagues. Green gains access to archives, with rare footage of televised and audio interviews, aired here for the first time. Contributors include Patty Jenkins, Diablo Cody, Ben Kingsley, Geena Davis, Ava DuVernay, Michel Hazanavicius, and Julie Delpy.
SHORT FILMS DIRECTED BY ALICE GUY-BLACHÉ
This selection of short films have been restored by Gaumont, and will be screened before some of the new features in the main programme. This season is organised with the support of Gaumont Pathé Archives (Paris) with special thanks to Agnès Bertola.
THE BIRTH, THE LIFE AND THE DEATH OF CHRIST
Her most notable film from the Gaumont period, this 30-minute extravaganza features 25 sets, numerous exterior locations and over 300 extras.
1906 • 35 mins • B&W • Digital
This will be screened before Carwash on Friday 22nd at 16.10 (see pg 10).
THE CONSEQUENCES OF FEMINISM
A society in which gender roles are switched.
1906 • 7 mins • B&W • Digital
THE CABBAGE-PATCH FAIRY
One of the first narrative films ever made.
1901 • 1 min • B&W • Digital
ALICE GUY FILMS A ‘PHONOSCÈNE’ IN THE STUDIO AT BUTTES-CHAUMONT, PARIS
Behind-the-scenes footage shows Mademoiselle Alice directing an early sound film.
1907 • 2 mins • B&W • Digital
A light gender-based comedy with an unusual subject for the time – the cravings women get while pregnant.
1906 • 4 mins • B&W • Digital
BOB WALTER SERPENTINE DANCE
Bob Walter performs the serpentine dance.
1897 • 1 min • B&W • Digital
GAZE 2020: Two Of Us
The IFI is supported by The Arts Council