New York Rendez-Vous with French Cinema Early Bird highlights

Joan Of Arc, Alice And The Mayor, Proxima and An Easy Girl

by Anne-Katrin Titze

Rebecca Zlotowski’s An Easy Girl (Une Fille Facile) featuring Mina Farid, Zahia Dehar, Benoît Magimel, Nuno Lopes, Clotilde Courau and Lakdhar Dridi, is a Rendez-Vous with French Cinema highlight
Rebecca Zlotowski’s An Easy Girl (Une Fille Facile) featuring Mina Farid, Zahia Dehar, Benoît Magimel, Nuno Lopes, Clotilde Courau and Lakdhar Dridi, is a Rendez-Vous with French Cinema highlight Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze

Rendez-Vous with French Cinema Early Bird highlights in the UniFrance and Film at Lincoln Center 25th edition include Nicolas Pariser’s Alice And The Mayor (Alice Et Le maire), starring Anaïs Demoustier and Fabrice Luchini with Antoine Reinartz (Lieutenant Cotterel in Arnaud Desplechin’s multiple César-nominated Oh Mercy!, Lucie Borleteau’s Perfect Nanny, Mehdi Idir and Grand Corps Malade’s School Life) and Nora Hamzawi; Alice Winocour’s Proxima with Eva Green, Zélie Boulant, Matt Dillon, Sandra Hüller, and Lars Eidinger, score by Ryuichi Sakamoto; Bruno Dumont's Joan Of Arc (Jeanne), his sequel to Jeannette: The Childhood Of Joan of Arc, starring Lise Leplat Prudhomme, and Rebecca Zlotowski’s An Easy Girl (Une Fille Facile).

Opening the festival is Hirokazu Kore-eda’s The Truth (La Vérité), starring Catherine Deneuve (also in Cédric Kahn’s Happy Birthday - Fête De Famille), Juliette Binoche (Safy Nebbou’s Who You Think I Am - Celle Que Vous Croyez), and Ethan Hawke (who is Nikola Tesla opposite Kyle MacLachlan’s Thomas Edison in Michael Almereyda’s upcoming Tesla).

Cinema is the realm where memory and imagination merge, which is particularly relevant in the following four highlights of the festival.

Joan Of Arc (Jeanne)
Joan Of Arc (Jeanne)

Joan Of Arc (Jeanne)

Bruno Dumont’s follow-up to Jeannette (with Lise Leplat Prudhomme taking on the title role again), sees the French heroine through preparations for battle against the English, to her imprisonment and the trial for heresy. Dumont’s genial (and economical) use of locations emphasises the timely as well as the timeless nature of the story, as seen by Charles Péguy. The dunes and fields and the cathedral (with the Cathédrale Notre Dame d'Amiens standing in for Rouen) remained mainly the same for centuries. God is in the sky for Jeanne and in the stained glass windows for some of those men of the church who sentenced her, Dumont’s camera seems to suggest. The more recent past brilliantly stands out like a stain, as Jeanne is imprisoned in a clearly 20th century bunker. The songs are trance-like (this is less a musical than Jeannette was), the horses’ legs nimble and the tics on the faces of the clergy put professional actors to shame. Not Fabrice Luchini, of course. The Slack Bay (Ma Loute) Dumont alumnus shows up in a cameo as King Charles VII, wide-eyed, taking in the challenge posed by a girl of such standing. A KimStim release.

US Premiere, Wednesday, March 11, 6:15pm (Q&A with Bruno Dumont) - Friday, March 13, 1:30pm

Alice And The Mayor (Alice Et Le Maire)
Alice And The Mayor (Alice Et Le Maire)

Alice And The Mayor (Alice Et Le Maire)

A different concern plagues Fabrice Luchini as the mayor of Lyon in Nicolas Pariser’s Alice and the Mayor. He hires young academic Alice (Anaïs Demoustier, César nomination Best Actress), who returns home from Oxford, to help him out. He has “run out of ideas,” and can’t think anymore. Seeing the way business-as-usual works in the world of politics, it’s no wonder that he feels drained. Even Alice herself after a short while realises that the board meetings and strained preparations for the city’s 2,500 anniversary celebrations and petty meddling take a toll. She reconnects with an old friend and meets his wife Delphine (a very good Maud Wyler), an activist, fashion designer, opera set designer from an old bourgeois family who seems to have boundless energy, until she doesn’t. Pariser addresses a universal fatigue clear-eyed and with optimism. Sometimes it takes a Bartleby to help you get fresh ideas.

New York Premiere, Saturday, March 7, 1:00pm (Q&A with Nicolas Pariser) - Wednesday, March 11, 9:30pm

Proxima
Proxima

Proxima

Eva Green (César nomination Best Actress) plays Sarah, an astronaut preparing for her first spaceflight. She is very close to her little daughter Stella (Zélie Boulant) who will stay with ex-husband (Lars Eidinger) in Germany while she trains in Russia and is put in quarantine. It is extraordinary what Alice Winocour includes and what she doesn’t show, thus rewriting how astronaut movies could be and mostly aren’t. A small moment, when Stella’s cat Laika tries to get its head into a pitcher of water is spectacularly realistic and funny. It foreshadows the space helmets to come, it also points to the tremendous and legitimate fears the little girl has about her life being turned upside down. Dad has a cat allergy and Mom is taking the great leap of leaving Earth. Casual sexist comments by Sarah’s captain (Matt Dillon) besides the gruelling physical practice and the emotional toll of being so far from her child, add up and show the extraordinary feat it is for Sarah to reach her dream and the stars. A Vertical Entertainment release.

New York Premiere, Saturday, March 7, 6:15pm (Q&A with Alice Winocour) - Tuesday, March 10, 9:15pm

An Easy Girl (Une Fille Facile)
An Easy Girl (Une Fille Facile)

An Easy Girl (Une Fille Facile)

There is nothing easy about being an easy girl. Naïma (Mina Farid) has just turned 16. She lives in Cannes with her mother who works as a maid in one of the fancy hotels. When her older bombshell cousin Sofia (Zahia Dehar) visits for the summer, a new chapter begins in her life. Orphaned Sofia has Carpe Diem tattooed on her lower back. She wears the most revealing clothes, to the point where her performance of femininity is so over-the top that she frightens the local boys. She accepts expensive designer clothes and bags and jewellery from older rich men without the slightest qualms. Naima is in awe and bewildered as she tags along when Sofia befriends two rich art dealers and joins them on their yacht (Benoît Magimel and Nuno Lopes). Class barriers and gender expectations, decency and lust, power and corruption, luxury and abandon - Rebecca Zlotowski twirls tropes into a pungent summer romance with a great mellow soundtrack. The easy way out may be the hardest one of all. A Netflix release.

North American Premiere, Saturday, March 7, 9:00pm (Q&A with Rebecca Zlotowski) - Thursday, March 12, 4:00pm

The Truth (La vérité) is scheduled to open in the UK on March 20 and IFC Films will release the film in the US on March 20.

Proxima will be released in the UK on April 20.

Cohen Media is releasing Who You Think I Am (Celle que vous croyez)) in the US on August 8.

The 25th Rendez-Vous with French Cinema, organised by Film at Lincoln Center’s Florence Almozini with UniFrance, will run from March 5 through March 15 at the Walter Reade Theater in New York.

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