Film series: French Film Festival

image: Alain Delon in PURPLE NOON (PLEIN SOLEIL)

This is Cornell Cinema's fifth consecutive year of teaming up with the Department of Romance Studies to present a French Film Festival, made possible, in part, by an Albertine Cinémathèque (formerly Tournées) Festival grant.

The six films sponsored by Albertine Cinémathèque include two powerful documentaries: Alice Diop’s We (Nous)  (winner of the Documentary Award and Best Film, Encounters section at the 2021 Berlinale) questions the conception of “we” in contemporary French society as she follows the stories and experiences of Senegalese communities living in the outer suburbs of Paris.

Filmmaker and journalist David Dufresne’s The Monopoly of Violence (Un pays qui se tient sage) interrogates the use of police violence against protesters in France over a two-year period, especially the ‘yellow jacket’ movement. J. Hoberman in ArtForum calls it “As significant in its way as the founding film of cinema verité, Jean Rouch and Edgar Morin’s 1961 Chronicle of a Summer.

Bhumisuta Das's film essay, A Night of Knowing Nothing uses the device of fictional love letters found in a cupboard at the Film and Television Institute of India. L, a film student writes to her estranged lover; positioning the hopefulness of young love against a backdrop of stark political struggle. The film won the Golden Eye award for best documentary at Cannes and  the Amplify Voices Award at the Toronto International Film Festival.

A young student in 1960s France seeks an (illegal) abortion in Audrey Diwan’s Happening (L'événement), based on Annie Ernaux's novel of the same name; Diwan’s film won the coveted Golden Lion at the 2021 Venice Film Festival.

Two restorations complete the Albertine Cinémathèque sponsored films.  The influential French philosopher Guy Debord created a film essay in 1973 of the same name from his Situationist classic, The Society of the Spectacle (1967).

The exquisite Alain Delon gives one of his greatest performances in Joseph Losey's Mr. Klein (1978). In this “slow-burning French thriller,” Delon plays Mr. Klein, a Catholic art dealer in 1942 Paris under German occupation, who uses the plight of local Jews to buy their Old Master paintings low, then sell high; that is until he is confused with another Mr. Klein, a Jew. “Suffused not only with history, but also with echoes of Kafka, Dostoyevsky and the clipped paranoia of Losey’s collaborations with Harold Pinter.” (NY Times) Winner of 3 Césars; shown in a 4K restoration.

In addition to the half dozen above, we have added a few others. What better than to feature Delon at his most beautiful and beguiling in Purple Noon (Plein Soleil) (1960), the original adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's The Talented Mr. Ripley. (One of a quartet of films in our Patricia Highsmith series.) 1960 was Delon's breakout year as his roles as Ripley in Purple Noon and as Rocco in Visconti's Rocco and His Brothers propelled him to international stardom.

Also enjoy a new 35mm print of Beneix's ravishing 1981 thriller, Diva, which launched the cinéma du look, an explosion of visually stunning, punk-inspired, super-cool French movies in the early 80s.

More gorgeous 35mm awaits cinema goers with the re-issue of Robert Bresson's second-to-last film, the brilliant The Devil, Probably.



Related films

Scene from the film Happening



Scene from the film The Society of the Spectacle

The Society of the Spectacle


Scene from the film Diva



Scene from the film A Night of Knowing Nothing

A Night of Knowing Nothing


Scene from the film Mr Klein

Mr Klein


Scene from the film The Monopoly of Violence

The Monopoly of Violence


Scene from the film We (Nous)

We (Nous)


Scene from the film Both Sides of the Blade

Both Sides of the Blade


Scene from the film The Devil, Probably

The Devil, Probably


image from the film PURPLE NOON (PLEIN SOLEIL)

Purple Noon