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Living in the ‘70s: Counter Culture Remixes French Cinema

In Europe during the 1970s, a new form of radical filmmaking emerged. Created by both young directors and their more established counterparts from the French New Wave movement, these films were anti-conformist and opened new cinematic territories. Fundamentally political, and often independently produced and funded, the films were also deeply poetic. They were inspired by a sense of fantastical and otherworldly possibilities, often summoning the ambivalence of literature and history to remix cinema. The Australian Cinémathèque presents, with the generous assistance of CulturesFrance and the Embassy of France, Australia, a season of key films from this period by French-language directors including Chantal Akerman, Marguerite Duras, Jean-Luc Godard, Alain Tanner and others.

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Lecture: Living in the '70s

Wed 18 Nov 6.00pm / Cinema A

Matthieu Orléan discusses the radical filmmaking of 1970s cinematic counter culture. Orléan is a curator at the Cinémathèque française in Paris where his projects have included included Almodovar exhibition! (2006) and Dennis Hopper et le nouvel Hollywood (2008). He writes for cinema and visual arts journals including Cahiers du cinéma, Trafic, Vertigo, Synopsis, Artpress, Libération, Purple and has contributed essays to Autoportrait en cinéaste, Chantal Akerman et Raymond Hains, J’ai la mémoire qui planche (published by Le Centre Pompidou). He recently co-directed the feature film Des Indes à la planète Mars, released in 2008 and screened in the Official Selection at the International Documentary Festival Marseille in 2007. India Song 1975 will be introduced by Matthieu Orléan on Wednesday 18 November at 7.30pm following his lecture.  Please note: This screening of India Song will begin at 7.30pm and not at 7.00pm as advertised in Cinefile.

Model Shop 1969 Ages 15+

Model Shop 1969 Ages 15+

Sun 22 Nov 1.00pm / Cinema A

35MM, COLOUR, MONO, 92 MINUTES, FRANCE/USA, ENGLISH / DIRECTOR/SCRIPT: JACQUES DEMY / CINEMATOGRAPHER: MICHEL HUGO / EDITOR: WALTER THOMPSON / PRODUCTION CO: COLUMBIA PICTURES CORPORATION / PRINT SOURCE: BRITISH FILM INSTITUTE / RIGHTS: CINÉ TAMARIS

‘…Demy updates the fate of Lola (Anouk Aimée), the French prostitute who gave his first feature its name in 1961, who has moved to Los Angeles and works in a “model shop,” where lonely men go to snap photos of beautiful women. 2001: A Space Odyssey’s Gary Lockwood plays a would-be architect who pursues Lola like some holy grail through the City of Angels. Misunderstood or dismissed upon its release, Model Shop was Demy's only American film, and it shows a fine outsider's sense of atmosphere: L.A.'s fractured topography of beach, canyon, and low-rise metropolis, the pastel model shop with its labyrinth of back rooms, the lambent languor of the Strip at twilight. Aimée is supernal as the lost and longing Lola, Lockwood surprisingly fine as the architect who admires urban geometry but cannot find a design for his inchoate emotion.’ Cinematheque Ontario

L’amour l’après midi (Love in the Afternoon) 1972 Ages 15+

L’amour l’après midi (Love in the Afternoon) 1972 Ages 15+

Sun 22 Nov 3.00pm / Cinema A

35MM, COLOUR, MONO, 97 MINUTES, FRANCE, FRENCH (ENGLISH SUBTITLES) / DIRECTOR/SCRIPT: ERIC ROHMER / CINEMATOGRAPHER: NÉSTOR ALMENDROS / EDITOR: CÉCILE DECUGIS / PRODUCTION CO: LES FILMS DU LOSANGE / PRINT SOURCE: MINISTÉRE DES AFFAIRES ÉTRANGÉRES (PARIS) / RIGHTS: FILMS DU LOSANGE

‘Frédéric (Bernard Verley), a successful middle class businessman, shares an apparently happy marriage with with Hélène (Françoise Verley), a teacher expecting her second child. However Frédéric spends his time daydreaming of other women and when Chloé (Zouzou), a mistress of an old friend, starts coming by his office they form a friendship. Initially Frédéric insists that their relationship remain platonic but when Chloé decides to seduce him he is forced to make a decision. L’Amour L’Apres-Midi was the last of Rohmer’s six moral tales is somewhat lighter and more comedic than its predecessors. Like the other men in the series Frédéric is weak and indecisive forever standing on the edge of temptation while never giving in or withdrawing from it. Amongst the best received of Rohmer’s work has L’Amour L’Apres-Midi was praised for its insightful dialogue and view of male-female relationships.’ Osaka European Film Festival

Le retour d'Afrique (Return from Africa) 1973 Ages 15+

Le retour d'Afrique (Return from Africa) 1973 Ages 15+

Wed 25 Nov 6.00pm / Cinema A

35MM, BLACK AND WHITE, MONO, 113 MINUTES, SWITZERLAND/FRANCE, FRENCH (ENGLISH SUBTITLES) / DIRECTOR/SCRIPT: ALAIN TANNER / CINEMATOGRAPHER: RENATO BERTA / EDITOR: BRIGITTE SOUSSELIER / PRODUCTION CO: FILMANTHROPE, LA GROUPE 5, TELEVISION SUISSE-ROMANDE / PRINT SOURCE: SWISS FILMS / RIGHTS: ALAIN TANNER

‘…Alain Tanner’s third film is inspired by a poet and a poetic text which deeply affected him as a young director: Cahier d’un retour au pays natal, written in 1939 by Aimé Césaire. A poem extolled by the Surrealists, this seminal flow of anti-colonial thinking by the West-Indian-born poet is the bubbling spring which inspires the gestures and words of the film’s main character, Vincent (François Marthouret), a 30-year-old from Geneva.Weighed down by the monotony and boredom of his life as a well-off westerner, he sells all his possessions and decides to leave for Algeria with his fiancée. The subject is clearly that of escape from one’s place of belonging, a Rimbaudesque theme dear to Tanner, which is here directly linked to the Third Worldist discourse of the 1960s and 1970s. But the strength of the film lies in the way it turns this thinking on its head: on the eve of their departure, chance circumstances prevent the couple from leaving. Instead, they decide to pursue their dream of escape by living hidden away in their empty apartment. Again, Tanner shows that it is the inner mileage travelled that matters, not the arrival at a destination; the posing of a question rather than the answer. As the director says at the beginning of the film: “Speaking words can be an act in itself, it can also be a substitute for action.” This is an important precept for the understanding of Tanner’s cinema: poetry is a form of action, and having it in mind, reciting it, can help to give a new shape to reality: in the film’s final scene, the couple decide to have a child.’ Frédéric Bas
 

India Song 1975 Ages 15+

India Song 1975 Ages 15+

Wed 18 Nov 7.30pm and Sat 28 Nov 2.00pm / Cinema A

16MM, COLOUR, MONO, 120 MINUTES, FRANCE, FRENCH (ENGLISH SUBTITLES) / DIRECTOR/SCRIPT: MARGUERITE DURAS / CINEMATOGRAPHER: BRUNO NUYTTEN / EDITOR: SOLANGE LEPRINCE / PRODUCTION CO: LES FILMS ARMORIAL / PRINT SOURCE/RIGHTS: MINISTÉRE DES AFFAIRES ÉTRANGÉRES (PARIS)

‘Best known as one of the major practitioners of the “new novel,” Marguerite Duras began her involvement with the cinema in the late 1950s and went on to write and direct ten feature films. India Song remains her masterpiece, and while it was shown continuously in Paris for nearly four years, it never received theatrical release in this country [USA]. The film is an oblique love story set in India in the 1930s, populated by a group of characters whose actions (and—most notably—inaction) were prefigured in her earlier novels. Here Duras focuses on a summer monsoon season during which a group of Europeans—Anne-Marie Stretter, the Vice-Consul, the Ambassador’s Attaché—haunt the film’s interiors through their reflections in ballroom mirrors, through the faceless voices that narrate their stories, and through the memories they endure. The voices also remember the story of a beggar woman, whose mournful tale counterpoints the love story in its recollection of famine, monsoon, and heat.’ Harvard Film Archive

Please note: The 18 November screening of India Song will begin at 7.30pm and not at 7.00pm as advertised in Cinefile.

Duelle (Women Duelling) 1976 Ages 15+

Duelle (Women Duelling) 1976 Ages 15+

Sat 21 Nov 2.00pm / Cinema A

35MM, COLOUR, MONO, 121 MINUTES, FRANCE, FRENCH (LIVE ELECTRONIC ENGLISH SUBTITLES) / DIRECTOR: JACQUES RIVETTE / SCRIPT: EDUARDO DE GREGORIO, MARILÙ PAROLINI / CINEMATOGRAPHER: WILLIAM LUBTCHANSKY / EDITOR: NICOLE LUBTCHANSKY / PRODUCTION CO: SUNCHILD PRODUCTIONS / PRINT SOURCE/RIGHTS: MINISTÉRE DES AFFAIRES ÉTRANGÉRES (PARIS)

‘The rivalling Sun Fairy (Bulle Ogier) and Ghost Goddess (Juliet Berto) both descend to Paris to search for, and battle over, a magic stone that will allow them to remain on Earth past their allotted 40 days. Perhaps the quintessential Rivette film, Duelle weaves supernaturalism and noir elements into a magical distillation of the mystery thriller genre. Rivette's first collaboration with cinematographer William Lubtchansky transports the viewer with its stylistic elegance, sweeping camera and jazz score (performed live in front of the camera!).’ Melbourne Cinémathèque

Jonas qui aura 25 ans en l'an 2000 (Jonah Who Will Be 25 in the Year 2000) 1976 Ages 15+

Jonas qui aura 25 ans en l'an 2000 (Jonah Who Will Be 25 in the Year 2000) 1976 Ages 15+

Sun 29 Nov 3.00pm / Cinema A

35MM, COLOUR AND BLACK AND WHITE, MONO, 110 MINUTES, FRANCE/SWITZERLAND, FRENCH (ENGLISH SUBTITLES) / DIRECTOR: ALAIN TANNER / SCRIPT: JOHN BERGER, ALAIN TANNER / CINEMATOGRAPHER: RENATO BERTA / EDITOR: BRIGITTE SOUSSELIER / PRODUCTION CO: ACTION FILMS, CITEL FILMS, SOCIÉTÉ FRANÇAISE DE PRODUCTION, TÉLÉVISION SUISSE-ROMANDE / PRINT SOURCE : SWISS FILMS / RIGHTS : ALAIN TANNER

‘Together with The Salamander, Jonah Who Will Be 25 in the Year 2000 is Alain Tanner’s best-known film, and the one which has almost permanently fixed his directorial style in the consciousness of the public: a mixture of seriousness and humour against a backdrop of social criticism, a sweet-and-sour utopia of characters given over to their thoughts and fantasies in a world which is not always designed with them in mind. However, this judgement of the film and its director carries a risk of misunderstanding. As Serge Daney has written, Jonah Who Will Be 25 in the Year 2000 in no way expresses an unambiguous left-wing point of view and does not crystallise the social struggle in the name of comradely nostalgia. Although the film records the states of mind and dreams of the 1968 generation without their violence or hatred, the intention is definitely not to paint a reassuring picture and turn the militants of yesterday into likeable figures. The aim is to reveal the secret, generally concealed wounds of a series of individuals sufficiently inured to the social order not to engage in open conflict. The eight characters featured in the film (their names all begin with “Ma…”, possibly an allusion to “Mao”) fight with their own weapons, which are rarely political but derive from their childhood, an area of boundless freedom and playfulness which the system cannot tame. This praise of the indomitably childlike quality of the 1968 generation is one of the morals of the film: “Jonah… is a didactic film with no lesson to teach, an encyclopaedic film with no conclusion”, a film of freedom.’ Fréderic Bas

Les rendez-vous d’Anna (The Meetings of Anna) 1978 Ages 15+

Les rendez-vous d’Anna (The Meetings of Anna) 1978 Ages 15+

Fri 27 Nov 6.00pm / Cinema A

35MM, COLOUR, MONO, 120 MINUTES, FRANCE/BELGIUM/GERMANY, FRENCH (ENGLISH SUBTITLES) / DIRECTOR/SCRIPT: CHANTAL AKERMAN / CINEMATOGRAPHER: JEAN PENZER / EDITOR: FRANCINE SANDBERG / PRODUCTION CO: HÉLÈNE FILMS / PRINT SOURCE/RIGHTS: NATIONAL FILM AND VIDEO LENDING SERVICE

‘Chantal Akerman presents a deeply personal, challenging, and affecting portrait of alienation and artistic disconnection in Les Rendezvous d'Anna. Using repeated images of impermanence and isolation, Akerman depicts the role of the artist in society as an objective and dispassionate chronicler of life's process. The constant movement of trains, indistinguishable hotel rooms, anonymous brief encounters, and prolonged absences from home and family reflect the profound loneliness and personal sacrifice that has consumed Anna's existence in pursuit of creativity and artistic independence. Strangers, estranged friends, and even lovers attempt to briefly connect with Anna, only to find her withdrawn and unaffected by their attempts at emotional (if not physical) intimacy. In the end, Les Rendezvous d'Anna becomes a poignant and emotionally conflicted examination of the artist as a perpetual exile and distant spectator of humanity.’ © Acquarello 2001. All rights reserved

Sauve Qui Peut (la Vie) (Slow Motion) 1979 Ages 15+

Sauve Qui Peut (la Vie) (Slow Motion) 1979 Ages 15+

Fri 20 Nov 6.00pm / Cinema A

35MM, COLOUR, MONO, 88 MINUTES, FRANCE/SWITZERLAND, FRENCH (ENGLISH SUBTITLES) / DIRECTOR/SCRIPT: JEAN-LUC GODARD / CINEMATOGRAPHERS: RENATO BERTA, WILLIAM LUBTCHANSKY, JEAN-BERNARD MENOUD / EDITORS: JEAN-LUC GODARD, ANNE-MARIE MIÉVILLE / PRODUCTION CO: CDIC, MK2 PRODUCTIONS, SARA FILMS, SONIMAGE, TÉLÉVISION SUISSE-ROMANDE, ZOETROPE STUDIOS, ZWEITES DEUTSCHES FERNSEHEN, ÖSTERREICHISCHER RUNDFUNK / PRINT SOURCE: MINISTÉRE DES AFFAIRES ÉTRANGÉRES (PARIS) / RIGHTS: GAUMONT

‘Jean-Luc Godard completed Slow Motion after an eight-year break from filmmaking, labelling it his ‘second first film’. The English title refers to the use of step-printed slow motion to convey the emotional reactions of characters. Godard structures the film around five chapters that deal metaphorically with aspects of modern life that have been distorted by capitalism: ‘Life’, ‘The Imaginary’, ‘Fear’, ‘Trade’ and ‘Music’. These chapters are connected by the three characters who are facing major changes in their lives: Paul Godard (Jacques Dutronc), a television director recently separated from his wife and daughter; Denise Rimbaud (Nathalie Baye), a writer who plans to move to the country when her relationship ends; and Isabelle Rivière (Isabelle Huppert), a prostitute looking for accommodation and a new vocation. Godard reportedly offered Huppert one statement about her character: ‘Hers is the face of suffering’.’ Australian Cinémathèque

Toute une nuit (All Night Long) 1982 Ages 15+

Toute une nuit (All Night Long) 1982 Ages 15+

Sun 29 Nov 1.00pm / Cinema A

35MM, COLOUR, MONO, 90 MINUTES, FRANCE/BELGIUM, FRENCH/ENGLISH (ENGLISH SUBTITLES) / DIRECTOR/SCRIPT: CHANTAL AKERMAN / CINEMATOGRAPHER: CAROLINE CHAMPETIER / EDITOR: LUC BARNIER / PRODUCTION CO: AVIDIA FILMS / PRINT SOURCE/RIGHTS: NATIONAL FILM AND VIDEO LENDING SERVICE

‘On a sultry summer night in Brussels, various bodies in search of love collide: some succeed, others do not. Fashioned from the shards of two dozen pulverized melodramas, Akerman’s urban nocturne foregrounds small gestures as it captures the shape of solitude itself. Locations criss-cross as characters meet and embrace, dance and split up, yank one another into cabs, or merely watch the action from doorways and stairwells. The choreography of indoors and out, upstairs and down, attraction and rejection distils the complex machinations of urban romance into a sweetly rhythmic dance.’ Harvard Film Archive