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Breathless: French New Wave Turns 50

Production still from Jules et Jim


In the late 1950s and 1960s, a disparate group of filmmakers in Paris reinvigorated cinema with offbeat and energetic approaches to filmmaking. A moment rather than a movement, what became known as the nouvelle vague or French New Wave brought together film enthusiasts who broke away from tired formulas and experimented with new approaches to narrative, genre, the cinematic image, montage and sound. With the advent of lightweight camera equipments, high speed film and portable location sound recording equipment, they burst out of the studio into the streets and cafes, and to explored the cinematic possibilities of the city, riffed on Hollywood genre cinema, and also responded to a volatile political context that included wars in Indochina and Algeria as well as the rise of the mass student protests of May ’68. Presented with the generous support of the French Embassy in Australia, 'Breathless: French New Wave turns 50', curated by Kathryn Weir (Australian Cinémathèque), includes films by Claude Chabrol, Jacques Demy, Jean Eustache, Jean-Luc Godard, Louis Malle, Chris Marker, Jean-Pierre Mocky, Alain Resnais, Jacques Rivette, Eric Rohmer, Jean Rouch, François Truffaut, Agnès Varda and many others. The cinema of May '68 is featured in an associated program curated by Adrian Martin (Rouge, Monash University) which brings together many rare films from before, during and after the events. In 'New Wave Paris: Paris vu par...', Gilles Rousseau (Forum des Images, Paris) showcases the strong relationship between the nouvelle vague and the streets of Paris, a primary location for so many iconic films of the period. Over the last decade in France an explosion of young filmmakers working with limited means has been dubbed the 'New New Wave';  Joe Hardwick (University of Queensland) has selected a program of powerful ‘New New Wave’ films from young French filmmakers who have again marked their generation.

Breathless: French New Wave Turns 50

Lucas Belvaux On the Run (Cavale) 2002 - New New Wave
Lucas Belvaux The Right of the Weakest (La Raison du Plus Faible) 2006 - New New Wave
Pierre-André Boutang History of May (Histoire de Mai) 1978 - May 68
Phillipe de Broca et al. The Seven Deadly Sins (Les Sept Péchés Capitaux) 1962 - Breathless
Dominique Cabrera The Other Side of the Sea (L’autre Coté de la Mer) 1997 - New New Wave
Alain Cavalier Fire and Ice (Le Combat dans l’Île) 1961 - Breathless
Claude Chabrol The Cousins (Les Cousins) 1958 - New Wave Paris
Claude Chabrol The Good Girls (Les Bonnes Femmes) 1960 - New Wave Paris
Claude Chabrol Wise Guys (Les Godelureaux) 1961 - New Wave Paris
Claude Chabrol et. al. Paris Vu Par 1965 - New Wave Paris
Pierre Clementi It’s Only a Beginning — The Revolution Goes On (Ce n'est qu'un Début — la Révolution Continue) 1968 - May 68
Pierre Clementi New Old 1979 - May 68
Collectif Cinétracts 1968 - May 68
Guy Debord On the Passage of a Few People through a Relatively Short Period of Time (Sur Le Passage de Quelques Personnes a Travers Une Assez Courte Unite des Temps) 1959 - May 68
Guy Debord Society of the Spectacle (La Société de Spectacle) 1973 - May 68
Guy Debord We Spin around the Night Consumed by the Fire (In Girum Imus Nocte et Consumimur Igni) 1978 - May 68
Jacques Demy Lola 1960 - Breathless
Jacques Demy Bay of Angels (La Baie des Anges) 1962 - Breathless
Jacques Demy The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (Les Parapluies de Cherbourg) 1963 - Breathless
Michel Desrois Lettre à Mon Ami Pol Cèbe 1970 - May 68
Jacques Doniol-Valcroze The Game of Six Lovers (L’eau a la bouche) 1959 – Breathless
Jacques Doniol-Valcroze The Overworked (Les Surmenés) 1960 - New Wave Paris
Karim Dridi Bye-bye 1995 - New New Wave
Oliver Ducastel & Jacques Martineau Jeanne and the Perfect Guy (Jeanne et le Garçon Formidable) 1998 - New New Wave
Bruno Dumont The Life of Jesus (La Vie de Jésus) 1997 - New New Wave
Bruno Dumont L’Humanité 1999 - New New Wave
Jean Eustache Bad Company (Les Mauvaises Frequentations) 1964 - New Wave Paris
Jean Eustache Santa Claus Has Blue Eyes (Le Père Noël a les Yeux Bleus) 1966 - Breathless
Jean Eustache The Mother and the Whore (La Maman et la Putain) 1973 - May 68
Pascale Ferran Coming to Terms with the Dead (Petits Arrangements avec les Morts) 1994 - New New Wave
Philippe Garrel Regular Lovers (Les Amants Réguliers) 2005 - May 68
Gaumont Pathe Archives Actualities Gaumont Mai 1968 1968 - May 68
ZaÏda Ghorab-Volta Golden Youth (Jeunesse Dorée) 2002 - New New Wave
Guy Gilles Love at Sea (L'Amour a la Mer) 1962–65 - Breathless
Jean-Luc Godard All the Boys Are Called Patrick (Tous Les Garçon s'Appelle Patrick) 1958 - New Wave Paris
Jean-Luc Godard & François Truffaut A Story of Water (Un Histoire d'eau) 1958 - New Wave Paris
Jean-Luc Godard Charlotte and Her Boyfriend (Charlotte et Son Jules) 1958 - New Wave Paris
Jean-Luc Godard Breathless (À Bout de Souffle) 1959 - New Wave Paris
Jean-Luc Godard The Little Soldier (Le Petit Soldat) 1960 - Breathless
Jean-Luc Godard A Woman is a Woman (Une Femme est une Femme) 1961 - New Wave Paris
Jean-Luc Godard My Life to Live (Vivre sa Vie) 1962 - Breathless
Jean-Luc Godard Contempt (Le Mépris) 1963 - Breathless
Jean-Luc Godard Les Carabiniers 1963 - Breathless
Jean-Luc Godard Band of Outsiders (Bande à Part) 1964 - Breathless
Jean-Luc Godard Two or Three Things I Know about Her (Deux ou Trois Choses Que Je Sais d’Elle) 1965 - Breathless
Jean-Luc Godard Masculin, Féminin 1965 - Breathless
Jean-Luc Godard Pierrot le Fou 1965 - Breathless
Jean-Luc Godard Alphaville: The Strange Adventure of Lemmy Caution 1965 - New Wave Paris
Jean-Luc Godard Made in U.S.A. 1966 - Breathless
Jean-Luc Godard Week-end 1967 - Breathless
Jean Luc Godard La Chinoise 1967 - May 68
Jean-Luc Godard Sympathy for the Devil 1968 – Breathless
Jean-Luc Godard Everything is Alright (Tout va Bien) 1972 - May 68
Romain Goupil To Die at 30 (Mourir a Trente Ans) 1982 - May 68
Philippe Grandrieux Return to Sarajevo (Retour a Sarajevo) 1996 - New New Wave
Philippe Grandrieux Sombre 1998 - New New Wave
Philippe Grandrieux A New Life (La Vie Nouvelle) 2002 - New New Wave
Mathieu Kassovitz La Haine 1995 - New New Wave
Marin Karmitz Blow for Blow (Coup par Coup) 1972 - May 68
Abdel Kechiche L’Esquive 2005 - New New Wave
William Klein Maydays (Grand Soirs et Petit Matins) 1968–78 - May 68
Maurice Lemaître The Youth Uprising (Le Soulèvement de la Jeunesse) 1969 - May 68
Sébastien Lifshitz Wild Side 2004 - New New Wave
Louis Malle Lift to the Scaffold (Ascenseur Pour L'échafaud) 1958 - New Wave Paris
Louis Malle The Lovers (Les Amants) 1958 - Breathless
Louis Malle Zazie in the Subway (Zazie Dans le Métro) 1960 - Breathless
Louis Malle The Fire Within (Le Feu Follet) 1963 - Breathless
Chris Marker Statues Also Die (Les Statues Meurent Aussi) 1953 - Breathless
Chris Marker The Astronauts (Les Astronautes) 1959 - Breathless
Chris Marker Description of a Struggle (Description d'un Combat) 1960 - Breathless
Chris Marker La Jetée 1962 - Breathless
Chris Marker The Lovely Month of May (Le Joli Mai) 1963 - Breathless
Chris Marker If I Had Four Dromedaries (Si J'avais Quatre Dromadaires) 1966 - Breathless
Chris Marker et al. Far from Vietnam (Loin du Vietnam) 1967 - Breathless
Chris Marker See You Soon (À Bientôt, J'espère) 1967–68 - May 68
Chris Marker Grin without a Cat (Le Fond de l’air est Rouge) 1977 - May 68
Jean-Pierre Melville Bob le Flambeur 1956 - New Wave Paris
Jean-Pierre Mocky The Chasers (Les Dragueurs) 1959 - New Wave Paris
Jean-Pierre Mocky A Couple (Un Couple) 1960 - Breathless
Marc’O The Idols (Les Idoles) 1968 - May 68
Manuel Poirier Western 1997 - New New Wave
Alain Resnais Guernica 1950 - Breathless
Alain Resnais Night and Fog (Nuit et Brouillard) 1955 - Breathless
Alain Resnais Hiroshima Mon Amour 1959 - Breathless
Alain Resnais Last Year at Marienbad (L’Année Dernière à Marienbad) 1961 - Breathless
Alain Resnais Muriel, or the Time of Return (Muriel, ou le Temps d’Un Retour) 1963 - Breathless
Alain Resnais The War Is Over (La Guerre est Finie) 1966 – Breathless
Jacques Rivette Le Coup du Berger 1956 - New Wave Paris
Jacques Rivette Paris Belongs to Us (Paris Nous Appartient) 1958 - New Wave Paris
Jacques Rivette The Nun (La Religieuse) 1965 - Breathless
Jacques Rivette Mad Love (L'Amour Fou) 1967 - Breathless
Jacques Rivette Out 1: Noli me Tangere 1971 - May 68
Eric Rohmer The Sign of Leo (Le Signe du Lion) 1959 - New Wave Paris
Eric Rohmer The Baker of Monceau (La Boulangère de Monceau) 1962 - New Wave Paris
Eric Rohmer Suzanne’s Career (La Carrière de Suzanne) 1963 - Breathless
Eric Rohmer Nadja à Paris 1964 - Breathless
Eric Rohmer La Collectionneuse 1967 - Breathless
Eric Rohmer My Night with Maud (Ma Nuit Chez Maud) 1969 - Breathless
Jean Rouch Jaguar 1954–67 - Breathless
Jean Rouch Moi, un Noir (I, a Black) 1959 - Breathless
Jean Rouch Chronicle of a Summer (Chronique d'un Eté) 1960-1 - Breathless
Jean Rouch The Punishment (La Punition) 1962 - New Wave Paris
Jean Rouch The Fifteen-Year-Old Widows (Les Veuves de 15 Ans) 1966 - New Wave Paris
Jean Rouch Dionysos 1984 - May 68
Hervé Roux Reprise 1996 - May 68
Jacques Rozier Adieu Philippine 1960 - Breathless
Slon-Groupe Medvedkine Nouvelle Société no. 6 1969 - May 68
Slon-Groupe Medvedkine Classe de Lutte 1969 - May 68
Alain Tanner Power Is in the Streets (Le Pouvoir dans la Rue) 1968 - May 68
Jean-Pierre Thiébaud Le Traîneau-Échelle 1970 - May 68
François Truffaut The Misfits (Les Mistons) 1957 – Breathless
François Truffaut The 400 Blows (Les 400 Coups) 1959 - New Wave Paris
François Truffaut Shoot the Pianist (Tirez Sur le Pianiste) 1960 - Breathless
François Truffaut Antoine et Collette  1962 - New Wave Paris
François Truffaut Jules et Jim 1962 - Breathless
François Truffaut The Soft Skin (La Peau Douce) 1964 - Breathless
François Truffaut Fahrenheit 451 1966 - Breathless
François Truffaut Stolen Kisses (Baisers Volés) 1968 - Breathless
Agnès Varda The Short Point (La Pointe Courte) 1954 - Breathless
Agnès Varda L'Opéra-Mouffe 1958 - Breathless
Agnès Varda The Riviera — Today's Eden (Du Côté de la Côte) 1958 – Breathless
Agnès Varda Cleo from 5 to 7 (Cléo de 5 à 7) 1962 - New Wave Paris
Agnès Varda Salut les Cubains 1963 - Breathless
Agnès Varda Happiness (Le Bonheur) 1964 - Breathless
Agnès Varda Black Panthers (Huey) 1968 - Breathless
Sandrine Veysset Will It Snow for Christmas? (Y aura-t-il de la neige à Noël?) 1996 - New New Wave


LECTURE: The Reverse Atomic Principle of Hiroshima Mon Amour
2.00pm Wednesday 12 September / Cinema A
Greg Hainge, University of Queensland, discusses the radical film language and impact of Alain Resnais’s Hiroshima Mon Amour.

LECTURE: May '68, then and now.

4.30pm Friday 9 November / Cinema A

Sylvia Lawson discusses the implications of May ’68 for current politics and culture, considering for example why Nicolas Sarkozy, when he was elected to the French presidency last April, stated that now 'the page is turned on May '68'? Lawson’s recent work includes  The Outside Story, a novel on the Sydney Opera House, and the prizewinning essay collection How Simone de Beauvoir Died in Australia.

LECTURE: Paris through the eyes of the New Wave
1.30pm Saturday 27 October / Cinema A
Gilles Rousseau, Forum des Images, Paris, discusses the intimate relationship between the Nouvelle Vague and the streets, cafes and iconic sites of Paris.

LECTURE: The new New Wave in French cinema
4.30pm, 5 October / Cinema A
Joe Hardwick, University of Queensland, explores French cinema’s 'New New Wave', and its relationship with the original Nouvelle Vague.


The little known ‘Carlton Wave’ (Melbourne), began in the sixties as lightweight synchronised cameras and sound equipment became available. A number of the ‘Carlton’ filmmakers looked to the French New Wave for inspiration. The Carlton Wave preceded the revival of Australian film by some years. It may have been only a ripple but it provided a glimpse of something new – a spontaneous outbreak of filmmaking occupying a space between the fully amateur and the commercial feature film.

Peter Elliot’s The Girlfriends is a satirical, loosely structured portrait of two girls making the transition from school to university in the mid-sixties, clearly inspired by Godard’s Bande of Outsiders. Brian Davies drew most heavily on the personal filmmaking ethos of the nouvelle vague; his award-winning short, Brake Fluid, explores a breakdown of communication between two potential (one obsessive) lovers. Nigel Buesst’s personal document of this spirited production history includes interviews and generous excerpts from a number of the films.

Screenings curated and introduced by Bruce Hodsdon, State Library of Queensland.

The Girl-friends 1968 Ages 15+

12 noon Saturday 24 November (With Brake Fluid) / Cinema A

Brake Fluid 1971 Ages 15+

12 noon Saturday 24 November (With The Girl-friends) / Cinema A

Nation film and Sound Archive

Carlton+ Godard = Cinema 2003 Ages 15+

2.00pm Saturday 24 November / Cinema A