A Rendezvous with Young French Cinema

The Rendez-Vous With French Cinema festival is coming back to the Lincoln Center in New York from March 1 to 12, 2017. Adeline Monzier is the U.S. representative for UniFrance, the organization behind the festival. We talked with her about the event’s line-up, which showcases young women directors and the vitality of French cinema.

France-Amérique: Some 10 of the 23 movies featured this year were directed by women, including Raw by Julia Ducournau, Heal the Living by Katell Quillévéré, In Bed with Victoria by Justine Triet and Planetarium by Rebecca Zlotowski. Is this a festival policy, or simply a reflection of French cinema’s diversification?

Adeline Monzier: We did not engineer the line-up. We have observed the emergence of a generation of young French women directors. They are all very close with each other, and work together to revisit classic genres to shed light on current subjects with little cinematic exposure. Emmanuelle Bercot, for example, uses the Mediator scandal as a backdrop to her film 150 Milligrams, while Katell Quillévéré addresses the issue of organ donation in France in Heal the Living [loosely based on Maylis de Kerangal’s novel]. This phenomenon of rising young women directors hasn’t yet taken off in the United States, and is a testament to the energy of French cinéma d’auteur.

Is this new youthfulness a chance to introduce American audiences to the young, modern face of French cinema?

We have drawn up a varied, contemporary line-up to diversify and renew our audiences, and featuring work by young female directors is part of that initiative. Julia Ducournau’s film, Raw, which shocked and disgusted viewers at the Cannes and Toronto film festivals, should also help attract a younger audience. We are also currently organizing “film trips” aimed at junior and senior high schools and universities in New York. This year we are showing Jean Renoir’s classic 1932 film Boudu Saved from Drowning, followed by a Q&A session led by directors Christophe Honoré and Agnès Varda. Some 700 students have already signed up, and some of them will be watching a French film for the very first time.

Which showings and events should really not be missed at this year’s festival?

François Ozon’s Frantz is one this year’s best films. I also recommend Katell Quillévéré’s poetic adaptation of Maylis de Kerangal’s novel, Heal the Living. Justine Triet’s In Bed with Victoria is a beautiful comedy, and Bertrand Bonello’s Nocturama offers a poetic, aesthetic take on the theme of terrorism in France. As well as the film showings, there will also be a conference led by three French DJs to discuss the history of the “French Touch” and its influence on American electro music from the 1990s onwards. And on the Upper East Side, the Blum & Poe gallery will be hosting the exhibition Life as Art, presenting videos, photographs and sculptures by Agnès Varda, one of the French directors who has most influenced American cinema.

Practical information:
Rendez-Vous With French Cinema, from March 1 to 12, 2017.

All films will be shown in French with English subtitles.