A new generation of French women helmers is boldly mixing personal and genre cinema to create a fresh image of Gallic cinema abroad. This story first ...
ducournau: Bertrand NOEL/SIPA/ap
A new generation of French women helmers is boldly mixing personal and genre cinema to create a fresh image of Gallic cinema abroad.
â€œSometimes Americans are curious to see why we have so many women directors, with such strength of vision,â€ says Unifrance director Isabelle Giordano. â€œWomen directors tackle pressing issues from new angles, with daring, sometimes provocative, approaches, often confronting hard truths in a frank and original manner.â€
Almost half the filmmakers attending the Rendez-vous With French Cinema at Lincoln Center that runs March 1-12 (filmlinc.org/festivals/rendez-vous-with-french-cinema) are women, ranging from veteran AgnÃ¨s Varda â€” who is scheduled for a talk at the event â€” to younger helmers such as Emmanuelle Bercot (â€œ150 Milligramsâ€), Justine Triet (â€œIn Bed With Victoriaâ€), Julia Ducournau (â€œRaw,â€ and one of Varietyâ€™s 2017 10 Directors to Watch), Rebecca Zlotowski (â€œPlanetariumâ€), Katell QuillÃ©vÃ©rÃ© (â€œHeal the Livingâ€), and StÃ©phanie Di Giusto (â€œThe Dancerâ€).
Top female executives attending the event include Haut et Court founder, Carole Scotta, who recorded major successes in 2016 as producer of â€œ150 Milligramsâ€ and as executive producer of TV series â€œThe Young Pope,â€ and French power agent Cecile Felsenberg of UBBA, whose client list includes Bercot, Dany Boon, Guillaume Canet, and Mathieu Kassovitz.
Ducournau took Toronto by storm with â€œRaw.â€ French films usually spurn the horror genre, but Ducournauâ€™s stark depiction of a studentâ€™s descent into cannibalism mixes genre elements with a highly individual auteur outlook.
â€œMy generation is less fixated with auteur cinema,â€ says QuillÃ©vÃ©rÃ©. â€œOur inspirations include American independent and mainstream cinema, weâ€™re not afraid to mix genre and auteur elements.â€
Justin Taurand, who produced QuillÃ©vÃ©rÃ©â€™s â€œHeal the Living,â€ says â€œfilms du milieuâ€ (â€œmidway filmsâ€) have earned that name because of their midsized budgets â€” typically between $3 million and $8 million â€” but also because they lie halfway between the genre and personal films, driven by the fact that their helmers both want, and need, to tap into a wider audience.
â€œMy generation is more interested in genre and reaching an audience,â€ says QuillÃ©vÃ©rÃ©, who cites an eclectic range of inspirations, from Douglas Sirk, James L. Brooks, Kenneth Lonergan, and Blake Edwards to David Simonâ€™s â€œThe Wire.â€ â€œI love filmmakers who explore emotions, the power of emotions within a story.â€QuillÃ©vÃ©rÃ© is prepping her first TV series, co-written with Helier Cisterne, and produced by Taurand and David Thion, about French hip-hop group NTM, set in the 1980s.
Zlotowski says the new generation of French filmmakers is based on common interests, and above all friendships and working together. Sheâ€™s co-writing a script with Thomas Cailley (â€œLove at First Sightâ€) based on a graphic novel.
â€œThereâ€™s amazing new talent emerging in France,â€ she says. â€œWe sometimes show each other our work in the editing room. Itâ€™s not really a new wave, or a film movement, like in Argentina or the Philippines. Essentially, weâ€™re all from the same middle-class backgrounds, from Paris or the suburbs. We share an interest in social issues, rather than a specific aesthetic approach, but we like strong visuals. We want to explore new territories, but always with a strong social concern.â€
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