December 2013, arsenal cinema

Hommage à Catherine Deneuve

LES PARAPLUIES DE CHERBOURG, 1964

Catherine Deneuve, who has left her mark on French cinema for more than the last 50 years, comes from a family of actors: her mother Renée was a theatre actress, while her father Maurice Dorléac acted in films and headed the Paramount dubbing studios. Deneuve made her screen debut at the age of 13, before achieving her international breakthrough as an actress with Jacques Demy's LES PARAPLUIES DE CHERBOURG at the age of 21. She has appeared in over 100 films of every different genre. In the early years of her career, she worked with directors such as Luis Buñuel, François Truffaut and Roman Polanski, collaborations that are now celebrated as film historical classics. Her versatility knows no bounds, not least when she works with younger directors and gets involved in experiments such as JE VEUX VOIR. Catherine Deneuve has again and again proven her ability to undermine her own image as a cool, unapproachable beauty. On December 7, Catherine Deneuve will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award from the European Film Academy in Berlin. It gives us great pleasure to be able to welcome her to Arsenal on December 6 as well as to show ten films in which she starred from 6.-11.12.

UN CONTE DE NOEL (A Christmas Tale, Arnaud Desplechin, France 2008, 6.12., with guest Catherine Deneuve) Christmas preparations are in full swing at the Roubaix family home. The grown-up children and their families have gathered at the parental home, where conflicts both old and new are now to be decided. The villa's many nooks, crannies and secret corners both conceal and reveal secrets in seemingly random fashion. Desplechin juggles different forms and tones in virtuoso style, shifting between the tender and the blunt and the melancholy and the surreal. Surrounded by a fantastic acting ensemble (Jean-Paul Roussillon, Mathieu Amalric, Emmanuelle Devos, Hippolyte Girardot, Anne Consigny, Chiara Mastroianni, Melvil Poupaud), Catherine Deneuve is on brilliant form as the family's unsentimental matriarch who needs a bone marrow transplant, with her most difficult son of all people being the only one who can give it to her.

LES PARAPLUIES DE CHERBOURG (The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, Jacques Demy, France/West Germany 1964, 7.12.) Catherine Deneuve plays the 18-year-old Geneviève, who works in an umbrella shop and is in love with car mechanic Guy. Their first night together is at the same time a farewell: Guy is called up for military service in Algeria. The pregnant Geneviève is forced by her mother to marry an affluent jeweler. "The first peoples' opera written for the screen" (Jacques Demy), a film whose dialogue is sung and whose dramatic color scheme turns Cherbourg into a place of fairy tales. Catherine Deneuve achieved international fame with the film, which won the Golden Palm at Cannes.

REPULSION (Roman Polanski, United Kingdom 1965, 7.12.) The shy, strangely introverted Carole (Catherine Deneuve) works in a beauty salon and lives with her sister. The only feeling she has for men and their intrusions is the titular sense of repulsion. When her sister leaves on a trip, Carole is left alone in the apartment, which becomes increasingly sinister. The boundaries between reality and insanity are blurred and the wordless horror that plays across her face corresponds to the way the camera captures her in its tight gaze. The ultimate consequence of Carole’s inner decay is the destruction of all those who come near her.

CATHERINE DENEUVE – BELLE ET BIEN LA (Anne Andreu, France 2009, 8.12.) A portrait of the "grand dame" of French cinema and her incredible career, which has already spanned over five decades. Numerous film clips provide a visual accompaniment to her ascent to iconic status and her work in the most varied genres.

LE DERNIER METRO (The Last Metro, François Truffaut , France 1980, 8.12.) The Théâtre Montmartre in Paris during the German Occupation. The theater's Jewish director Lucas Steiner is hiding out in the cellar of the building. His wife Marion (Catherine Deneuve) has supposedly taken over the helm of the theatre in his absence, while Steiner, who is able to follow the rehearsals through a heating shaft, intervenes again and again in her work. Stagings, roleplays and shifting roles do not only characterize the theatre work but also how those involved treat one another. The arrival of actor Granger (Gérard Depardieu) changes the dynamics of both the theatre and its inhabitants.

DANCER IN THE DARK (Lars von Trier, Denmark 2000, 9.12.) Lars von Trier tells the passion story of factory worker Selma (Björk), who is going blind whilst doggedly saving for her son to have an eye operation, in the form of a musical and melodrama. Selma's only way of distracting herself is her love of musicals, which gifts the film numerous choreographies. Catherine Deneuve can be seen in the role of Selma's colleague and friend. She was so impressed by Lars von Trier's "Breaking the Waves" (1996) that she asked him to cast her in one of his films.

LES TEMPS QUI CHANGENT (Changing Times, André Téchiné, France 2004, 10.12.) Paris engineer Antoine (Gérard Depardieu) comes to Tangiers to supervise a construction project. But his true intention is a different one: he knows that Cécile (Catherine Deneuve) lives there, the woman who he still can't forget after 30 years. At their first meeting, Antoine is so excited that he runs into a pane of glass, hardly giving the impression that there is genuine hope of his winning back his one great love. A film about missed chances, belated hopes and lives unlived.

BELLE DE JOUR (Belle de jour, Luis Buñuel, France/Italy 1967, 10.12.) Doctor's wife Séverine (Catherine Deneuve) is sexually unsatisfied and repeatedly indulges in erotic daydreams and masochistic fantasies. She starts working as a prostitute in an up market brothel, plying her trade only during the daytime, which earns her the nickname of "the beauty of day". Fantasy and reality are on equal standing in Luis Buñuel's masterpiece, which gave Catherine Deneuve one of her greatest roles.

JE VEUX VOIR (I Want to See, Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige, Lebanon/France 2008, 11.12.) In July 2006, a new war breaks out in Lebanon that puts a sudden end to lasting peace in the country. Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige seek to question what effect cinema can have in this situation and invite film icon Catherine Deneuve to Lebanon. In Beirut, she meets her popular acting colleague Rabih Mroué, with the two of them going on to visit regions destroyed in the battles – a journey with an uncertain ending.

LES DEMOISELLES DE ROCHEFORT (The Young Girls of Rochefort, Jacques Demy, France 1967, 11.12.) The harbor town of Rochefort is making preparations for the upcoming fair. Twin sisters Delphine, a dance teacher (Catherine Deneuve), and Solange, a composer (Françoise Dorléac, Deneuve's sister, who died just a few months after the shoot) are also to perform a dance routine there and both meet the men of their dreams in the process. Demy's declaration of love to the American film musical is perhaps his most colorful and cheerful film and a circular song and dance of happy unions – both of the film characters and the French and American actors. (al)

An event in collaboration with the French Film Week Berlin and the Institut français.