December 2019, arsenal cinema

Gaumont: Born with Cinema (2)

BANDE À PART, 1964

Established in 1895, Gaumont isn’t just the first ever film concern to be founded worldwide. With over 1500 titles, Gaumont also possesses one of the largest catalogues of French films, including works by Abel Gance, René Clair, Louis Feuillade, Jean Renoir, Max Ophüls, Robert Bresson, Georges Franju, Jean Grémillon, René Clément, Jean-Pierre Melville, Jacques Doillon, Jean-Luc Godard, Maurice Pialat, Jean Vigo, and Louis Malle. From November 28 to January 28, a guest exhibition will be hosted at the Maison de France of the Institut français at Kurfürstendamm 211 entitled “Gaumont: Born with Cinema”. The exhibition is an invitation to take a journey through the history of the company and film history itself, presenting original props, costumes, film posters, film music, and film excerpts. As part of the French Film Week from November 28th to December 4th, Arsenal is accompanying the exhibition by screening a selection of classics from French film history together with some of the firm’s more recent productions. A comprehensive program of titles from the Gaumont catalogue will follow in February.

ZAZIE DANS LE MÉTRO (Louis Malle, France/Italy 1960, 30.11. & 1.12.) Zazie (Catherine Demongeot), a proper little madam of ten years old from the provinces, visits Paris with her mother. Both want to have a good time: Zazie wants nothing more than to ride the metro, while Mama has arranged to meet her lover and thus leaves her daughter for two days with Uncle Gabriel (Philippe Noiret), who earns his living as a “danseuse de charme” at a gay bar. As the metro is on strike, Zazie takes off on her own to explore Paris. With his adaptation of the bestseller by Raymond Queneau, Louis Malle succeeded in creating a visual equivalent to the novel which attacked cinematic conventions in much the same way as Queneau did linguistic templates. He smashes up traditional film grammar and puts on a firework display of burlesque and grotesque ideas. Zazie reveals the “hypocrisy and depravity of the world of adults”, makes it seem ridiculous via subversive humor, and shows scorn for all moral norms with an anarchic lust for chaos. 

LES BELLES DE NUIT (Beauties of the Night, René Clair, France/Italy 1952, 1.12.) Young musician Claude (Gérard Philipe) would like to be a successful composer, but has to earn a living as a music teacher in a small provincial town, fleeing from the noise that surrounds him into the dream world of a seemingly carefree life in former times: as a celebrated opera composer at the turn of the century, a heroic colonel in Napoleon’s service, and a courageous revolutionary during the French Revolution, constantly surrounded by women (Martine Carol, Gina Lollobrigida, Magali Vendeuil) who feel drawn to him – until the scenery dangerously shifts. This intelligently, inventively staged comedy of life wisdoms counts among René Clair’s biggest successes.

BANDE À PART (Band of Outsiders, Jean-Luc Godard, F 1964, 2.12.) Au-pair Odile (Anna Karina) meets Arthur (Claude Brasseur) and Frantz (Sami Frey) at a language course and tells them about a large sum of money hidden by another tenant in the house where she lives. The three plan to carry out the big coup. BANDE À PART is happily described as Jean-Luc Godard’s most cheerful and accessible film, which the “slightly potty commentary” (Frieda Grafe) spoken by the director plays a big part in. The world record time taken in getting around the Louvre is unforgettable, as is the Madison Line Dance by Odile, Arthur, and Frantz in a bar.

BARBARA (Mathieu Amalric, France 2017, 3.12.) Director Yves (Mathieu Amalric) is working on a biopic about French chanson legend Barbara (1930–1997) and has hired actress Brigitte (Jeanne Balibar) to play the role, who herself performs as a singer. The longer the rehearsals last, the more the character takes control of her. Mathieu Amalric’s sixth film as a director is about love, respect, and identification, the mirroring of film within film and fiction and reality and is at once a tribute to “la dame en noir” Barbara as well as actress and singer Jeanne Balibar.

DEMAIN ET TOUS LES AUTRES JOURS (Tomorrow and Thereafter, Noémie Lvovsky, France 2017, 4.12.) Following her parents’ divorce, nine-year-old Mathilde lives with her mother (Noémie Lvovsky), a sensitive, unstable woman for whom just getting through everyday life is already too much. Faced with a mother who is barely present and a father only around via Skype (Mathieu Amalric), Mathilde’s talking owl becomes a trusted listener and advisor. Noémie Lvovsky’s hugely personal film is dedicated to her mother, a tender, dream-like portrait of an unusual mother-daughter relationship, with the perfect musical accompaniment formed by Alela Diane’s fragile, captivating song “Oh! My Mama”. (hjf)

An event in collaboration with Gaumont and the French Film Week Berlin. With the friendly support of the Institut français and the Embassy of France.

arsenal cinema: 50th Forum


50. Forum / 70. Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin

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