Tavernier’s close-up on French cinema

Cannes Classics offers Friedkin masterclass and Fipresci salute

by Richard Mowe

Bertrand Tavernier - a walking encyclopedia of French cinema - will have pride of place in Cannes Classics
Bertrand Tavernier - a walking encyclopedia of French cinema - will have pride of place in Cannes Classics Photo: Otto Koota
Veteran French director Bertrand Tavernier will have pride of place in the Cannes Classics strand with a world premiere preview of his new documentary A Journey Through French Cinema.

Tavernier, who is president of Lyon’s Lumiere festival along with Cannes artistic director Thierry Fremaux, said Martin Scorsese’s Personal Journey Through American Movies and My Voyage To Italian Cinema inspired him to make A Journey Through French Cinema. Tavernier will also shed light on the political and historical context of certain films as well as share anecdotes about some directors.

The increasingly important section will include a conversation with French Connection and Exorcist director William Friedkin.

William Friedkin, subject of a Cannes master-class this year, pictured here with his wife Sherry Lansing at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival
William Friedkin, subject of a Cannes master-class this year, pictured here with his wife Sherry Lansing at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival Photo: Courtesy of Karlovy Vary International Film Festival
To mark the 70th anniversary of the Fipresci prize bestowed by international critics, the Festival will screen the first Fipresci prize-winner Farrebique by Georges Rouquier (1946, France) which was also was the opening film at the First Edinburgh International Festival of Documentary Films (now the Edinburgh International Film Festival) in 1947, alongside Roberto Rossellini’s Paisan (1946). Considered as one of the most important French films of the 1940s, it is set on a traditional family farm. The filmmaker Georges Rouquier spent a whole year with one family of farmers, observing their daily routine, their joys and crises mirroring the rhythms of nature ...

Frederick Wiseman and Raymond Depardon, two giant documentary filmmakers, will receive a special focus while Friedkin is lined up for a master class hosted by critic Michel Cement.

In 2016, the Festival organisers have decided to go back to the year 1966 and its two winners, Pietro Germi and Claude Lelouch. They were awarded the prize by the jury presided over by Sophia Loren for Signore & Signori (The Birds, the Bees and the Italians) and Un Homme Et Une Femme (A Man And A Woman) by Claude Lelouch with Anouk Aimée and Jean-Louis Trintignant.

Down on the farm in Fipresci prize-winner Farrebique by Georges Rouquier
Down on the farm in Fipresci prize-winner Farrebique by Georges Rouquier Photo: Courtesy of Cannes Film Festival
There will be nine documentaries about cinema including The Family Whistle by Michele Russo which puts the spotlight on the Coppola family — their arrival in the US, their links with their native Italy and their relationship to music. A lot of interviews and malicious anecdotes from one of the greatest clans of today’s cinema. In Bright Lights, actresses Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds reveal their close friendship, which covers two golden ages of American cinema. The late French actress Bernadette Lafont is explored in Dieu Créa La Femme by Esther Hoffenberg through her friends among them Bulle Ogier and Jean-Pierre Kalfon.

Among the restored prints on offer are: James Ivory’s Howard’s End; Krzysztof Kieslowski’s Dekalog 5 (Thou shalt not kill) and 6 (Thou shalt not commit adultery); Masculin Féminin by Jean-Luc Godard; Indochine by Régis Wargnier and The Pit And The Pendulum by Roger Corman.

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