Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Jeunes cinéastes français on n'est pas mort ! (Cahiers, N.688)

The dossier in the April issue of Cahiers du Cinéma (N.688) is Jeunes cinéastes français on n'est pas mort! which is about a new generation of young French filmmakers who are incorporating a new lyricism in their films. These new directors are in the process of completing their first or second full-length feature and have previously only made short films.

"This group isn't exclusive, but it just goes to show that a new spirit is being created, and that Cahiers is in demand for this newness," writes Stéphane Delorme. And he elaborates on the magazine's position, "this is why here at Cahiers we will not accept the label that we are too severe. No. It has to precisely do with these other films, that are not being made or shown, and by supporting these young filmmakers, who would otherwise loose their force and spirit, from not finding any allies. This forces us not to lower our standards."

This is one of Cahiers' best recent issues as it seems to epitomize their championing of an open-aired lyricism against the asphyxiation of cinematic academicism. Every article in this particular issue, and within the magazine in general, seems to address this issue, in some way, and what is impressive is its consistency.

The feature article that best addresses this is Delorme’s Comment redonner de l’élan au jeune cinema français: Du lyrisme!Building upon their Onze stations pour une histoire poétique du cinéma français (N.682), Delorme traces the history of a poetic lineage in French cinema, from Leos Carax’s Holy Motors to its roots, with its developments and pitfalls, along with its accompanying intellectual life and attitudes. Delorme is arguing for a shift in tone for the films. Similar to their Les dix tares du cinéma contemporain (N.684), instead of French filmmakers solely making naturalistic dramas about class and social issues, Delorme is arguing for films to be made with breathing room that allow for improvisation and poetry: des films quite chante. One of Delorme’s points is that “To sing, one must be able to love; and that today, there is a grand inability to love.” This is a crisis not only for cinema but in life, too.

Some of Delorme's points are (and you can also hear him talk about it on France Interthough he is unfortunately cut short):
"The observation of social classes give certain filmmakers the impression of being political. But it is lyricism that is revolutionary! [...] The great political cinema is lyrical: Eisenstein, Marker, Godard, Rocha. [...] In France, it is the older filmmakers that are truly lyrical! Coeurs, Sicilia!, Les Plages d'Agnes, Histoire(s) du Cinema. [...] That isn't right! Are we only good for this? Where are the grand, generous, enthusiastic, and tragic gestures? Where are the films that push the limits? [...] Naturalism and auto-fictions, hand in hand, have reduced lyricism to practically nothing, it is reduced to narcissistic confidences and wining. [...] Une trousse de secours pour brulers au second degrer, si le cinema n'est pas ca, a quoi bon en faire?"
The Événement: Jeunes cinéastes français is full of articles and it is illustrated with behind the scenes pictures, stills, and director portraits. It is divided in several sections. À l'attaque! (on seven young filmmakers who are finishing their first features): Yann Gonzalez (Les Rencontres d'après minuit), Justine Triet (La Bataille de Solférino), Djinn Carrénard (Donoma, Faire l’amour), Guillaume Brac (Un monde sans femmes, Tonnerre), Antonin Peretjatko (La Fille du 14 juillet), Thomas Salvador (Briques, Vincent), and Rebecca Zlotowski (Belle Épine, Grand Central). There is a text manifesto Le SMS de Cologne by the actor-director Vincent Macagine A section on four actors Têtes folles (who have acted in the previously mentioned director’s films): Estéban/David Boring, Laure Calamy, Laetitia Dosch, and Nicolas Maury. There is a section for five short-film directors: Jonathan Vinel, Shanti Masud, Mati Diop, Vincent Dietschy, and Louis Garrel. These texts are written by some of Cahiers’ important writers like Delorme, Jean-Philippe Tessé, Jean-Sébastien Chauvin, Nicolas Azalbert, Joachim Lepastier, and Florence Maillard.

The issue seems to coincide with Cannes as on their Facebook page Cahiers posted that Rebecca Zlotowski's Grand Central will be in Un certain regard, Antonin Peretjatko's La Fille du 14 juillet will be in la Quinzaine des réalisateurs, Yann Gonzalez's Les Rencontres d'après minuit will be in la Semaine de la critique, Justine Triet's La Bataille de Solférino will be in l'ACID, and that the acteur Vincent Macaigne will be at the Croisette in three films: La Fille du 14 juillet, La Bataille de Solférino and 2 automnes, trois hivers by Sébastien Betbeder (ACID).

The April's Cahiers critique, to cite Stéphane Delorme’s ratings, are: Promised Land by Gus Van Sant (***), La Belle Endormie by Marco Bellocchio (***), Mud by Jeff Nichols (**), Les Amants passagers by Pedro Almodóvar (*), Clip by Maja Milos (**), and Orleans by Virgil Vernier (**). And in their Notes sur d’autres films section they review 18 other films including The Act of Killing, The Grandmaster, Hannah Arendt, Paradise: Faith & Hope, Pietà, La Playa D.C., and Survivre.

There is a dense Le Journal section: an inteview with Isabelle Glachant on Chinese cinema, a review of the Berlin festival, coverage of the film festival in Bobigny, an article about Israeli cinema, a spotlight on how Cahiers was censored in Algeria (for a still of In the Realm of the Senses), a memorial for the former Cahiers du Cinema-Japon editor Yoichi Umemoto by Thierry Jousse, a memorial for David Dewaele by Druno Dumont, a memorial for Alexeï Guerman, articles about Adolfo Arrietta's Flammes, Mario Monicelli’s Larmes de joie, and Howard Hawks’ Red River; articles about Paul Wendkos and Serguei Paradjanov; and their new two-page international film news section.

Finally there is also an interview with the producer Saïd Ben Saïd, a dossier on Philippe Garrel, and an inteview with Jean-Francois Chevrier (L'Hallucination artistique) whose unique reading of Bazin brings him towards surrealism and hallucinations.

The May issue of Cahiers has now been announced and it will be interesting to see how they build upon this previous issue. The table of contents already lists the Événement to be Cannes 2013 and Convention Collective, the Cahiers Critiques are for the new Kurosawa, Peretjatko and Gondry; and there is a multi-article dossier on the South by Southwest film festival.

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