Rendez-Vous With French Cinema Film Festival

Sunday, Mar 7, 2021 at 12:00pm

New York, NY 10001

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UniFrance and Film at Lincoln Center announce the complete lineup for the 26th edition of Rendez-Vous with French Cinema, the celebrated annual festival that showcases the variety and vitality of contemporary French filmmaking in the FLC Virtual Cinema.

“This year’s edition of Rendez-Vous with French Cinema is a special one with virtual presentations of the films due to the Covid-19 crisis, but we’re making the most of these challenging times and are pleased to share French cinema beyond our beloved New York audience,” said Daniela Elstner, Managing Director of UniFrance. “All the cinephiles in the U.S. will have access to our exciting selection of bold new voices and returning filmmakers, including our opening film, Sébastien Lifshitz’s remarkable and moving Little Girl, which is the first documentary ever to open the festival. We are also thrilled to have Emmanuelle Béart as our official Guest of Honor for the 26th edition. Emmanuelle’s career as an actress and activist highlights what French cinema represents for American audiences today: a leading voice and vision on world issues and our collective consciousness.”

The 2021 Opening Night selection is Sébastien Lifshitz’s moving documentary Little Girl, which follows a young girl’s experience with gender dysphoria with remarkable sensitivity. The 18-film lineup showcases new work from returning Rendez-Vous filmmakers, including Emmanuel Mouret’s Love Affair(s), one of Cahiers du Cinema’s top 10 films of 2020; beloved oddball director Quentin Dupieux’s Mandibles, in which two bumbling friends try to turn a mutant insect into an absurd business opportunity; Farid Bentoumi’s Red Soil, about a nurse who exposes corruption at a chemical factory; Nicole Garcia’s seductive noir Lovers; Guillaume Brac’s witty road caper À l’abordage!; and François Ozon’s Summer of ’85, a dark, nostalgic queer romance with an evocative soundtrack by The Cure.

First-time feature filmmakers make up a third of this year’s program. Among the debuts are Nora Martirosyan’s Should the Wind Drop, a timely drama set in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region; Suzanne Lindon’s Spring Blossom, a charming twist on a coming-of-age tale; Charlène Favier’s Slalom, about an aspiring young Olympian navigating consent in the high-stakes world of sports; Fanny Liatard & Jérémy Trouilh’s Gagarin, about a teenager fighting the demolition of his housing project; and actor-turned-director Samir Guesmi’s Ibrahim. Ludovic Bergery’s Margaux Hartmann, also a debut, features a memorable performance by the great Emmanuelle Béart (Ozon’s 8 Women, Jacques Rivette’s The Beautiful Troublemaker), who will serve as this year’s Rendez-Vous Guest of Honor. Béart will participate in an extended opening conversation with Columbia University Professor Richard Peña about her career, recent French cinema, and this year’s Rendez-Vous lineup-additional details to be announced.

Other festival highlights include Hélier Cisterne’s Faithful, starring Vicky Krieps and Vincent Lacoste in a tale of romance and revolution based on a true story; Quentin Reynaud’s exhilarating portrait of an aging tennis star, Final Set; Fabienne Godet’s existential mystery Lifelines; and several Cannes 2020 selections, such as Emmanuel Courcol’s The Big Hit and Caroline Vignal’s My Donkey, My Lover, and I, just nominated for seven César Awards.

“We are truly delighted to celebrate 26 years of Rendez-Vous with French Cinema with our partners at UniFrance,” said Florence Almozini, FLC Senior Programmer at Large. “This year’s festival demonstrates the vigorous diversity of French cinema today with exciting new films from returning directors François Ozon, Nicole Garcia, Guillaume Brac, and Quentin Dupieux, as well as memorable debuts from Charlène Favier, Nora Martirosyan, and Suzanne Lindon. While it has been a challenging year for so many people, we hope to bring the audience some entertainment, comfort, and enlightenment with this compelling lineup of new French gems.”

The festival will also present several free talks: How Music Makes the Film, about the complex collaborative process between directors and composers, and Vive la Résistance, a conversation exploring the depiction of grassroots activism in recent French and American cinema. All 18 films will also screen with virtual Q&As. Virtual moviegoers will have the chance to give a prize to their favorite festival film with the second annual Rendez-Vous Audience Award.

A selection of festival titles are also available at arthouses across the U.S. for virtual bookings as part of the inaugural A Taste of Rendez-Vous program. Additionally, this year’s school screening is Gagarin, available for middle-school, high-school, and college students.

Opening Night
Little Girl / Petite Fille
Sébastien Lifshitz, 2020, France, 85m
French with English subtitles
Sasha has known she was a girl since she was just three years old, but her second-grade teachers refuse to accept her gender identity. In this remarkable documentary, Sébastien Lifshitz (Les invisibles) embeds with Sasha’s family for a year as they confront dismissive school administrators. But the film dwells equally on Sasha’s everyday life outside of school—we see her at home with her loving parents and siblings, who encourage her to express herself freely, and alongside her unfaltering mother Karine in appointments with child psychiatrists, who validate Sasha’s experiences. With immense sensitivity and empathy, Little Girl follows Sasha and her family as they strive to reclaim an ordinary childhood, while capturing the social stigmas that still persist around gender dysphoria. A Music Box Film release.
Available March 4 at noon ET to March 9 at noon ET

Faithful / De nos frères blessés
Hélier Cisterne, 2020, France, 96m
French and Arabic with English subtitles
Vicky Krieps (Phantom Thread) and Vincent Lacoste (Christophe Honoré’s Sorry Angel, NYFF56) bring a firebrand vitality to this 1950s-set true story of revolutionary conviction and romantic passion. Lacoste plays real-life communist dissident Fernand Iveton, who, on a brief trip to Paris for medical tests, falls in love with headstrong Hélène (Krieps), an escapee from an oppressive regime in Poland. Entranced by each other’s devotion to their principles, they marry and move to Algiers, where Fernand came of age among Marxist radicals. As the revolution explodes, Fernand throws himself into the Algerian resistance, while Hélène, aware of the suffering she witnessed before starting a new life, must reckon with just how much her husband is willing to sacrifice.
Available March 6 at noon ET to March 11 at noon ET

Gagarin / Gagarine
Fanny Liatard And Jeremy Trouilh, 2020, France, 97m
French with English subtitles
In this soulful Cannes 2020 selection, a breakout Alseni Bathily stars as 16-year-old engineering whiz Yuri, who industriously sets about renovating the housing project where he lives, Cité Gagarine, to save it from demolition. With the help of his closest friends (Jamil McCraven and Lyna Khoudri) and an eccentric scrapyard owner (Denis Lavant in a memorable cameo), Yuri slowly reinvigorates his building’s splintered, diverse community, but he can only do so much in the face of an unsympathetic housing board—which compels him to draw some imaginative inspiration from his and his home’s namesake, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin. With dreamlike set pieces and evocative sound design, Gagarin’s flights of the fantastic vibrantly resist the displacement of the marginalized. A Cohen Media release.
Available March 6 at noon ET to March 11 at noon ET

Margaux Hartmann / L’Étreinte
Ludovic Bergery, 2020, France, 100m
French with English subtitles
The great Emmanuelle Béart of La Belle Noiseuse and Manon des Sources anchors Margaux Hartmann in the fluidity of the unknown. Six months after her husband’s death, middle-aged Margaux (Béart) moves into her half-sister’s guest house in Versailles to enroll in a local Master’s program. Her fellow students, who are much younger, quickly take a liking to her and, despite her grief, Margaux gradually comes out of her shell to embrace new friends (Vincent Dedienne) and romantic interests (Tibo Vandenborre). A self-assured and sensual directorial debut from Ludovic Bergery, Margaux Hartmann probes the possibilities of seeking a new beginning on one’s own terms.
Available March 6 at noon ET to March 11 at noon ET

My Donkey, My Lover, and I / Antoinette dans les Cévennes
Caroline Vignal, 2020, France, 95m
French with English subtitles
Primary schoolteacher Antoinette (Laure Calamy, Sibyl, NYFF57) is elated about her upcoming vacation with her married lover, Vladimir, but life quickly intervenes: he cancels on her to take a hiking trip with his wife and young daughter, who’s one of Antoinette’s pupils. Fueled by impulse, Antoinette heads to the same mountainous region of Cévennes National Park with an itinerary inspired by Robert Louis Stevenson’s Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes. On her spur-of-the-moment mission, she forges quick bonds with an idealistic innkeeper (Marie Rivière, Rohmer’s The Green Ray) and Patrick, the cantankerous donkey she’s rented to help her up the mountain. In this Cannes 2020 selection, Caroline Vignal embraces the long and winding path over the final destination with much heart and humor. Nominated for seven César Awards including Best Film, Best Actress, and Best Original Screenplay.
Available March 5 at noon ET to March 10 at noon ET

Red Soil / Rouge
Farid Bentoumi, 2020, France/Belgium, 90m
French with English subtitles
César-winner Zita Hanrot (Fatima) delivers an extraordinary performance at the unflinching eye of this environmental thriller’s storm. When Hanrot’s Nour, a nurse, is put on probation after a fatal accident at her emergency room, she takes charge of the infirmary of the chemical factory where her father (Sami Bouajila, César-winner for André Téchiné’s The Witnesses) has worked for nearly 30 years. As she starts scheduling routine check-ups, Nour is struck by odd gaps in the records and a general skepticism from the workers. Her suspicions build when a reporter (Céline Sallette, House of Tolerance) raises concerns about undisclosed toxic waste dumps. With each harrowing revelation, Red Soil pulls apart a conspiracy at the damning intersection of pollution and globalist exploitation. A Cannes 2020 selection.
Available March 5 at noon ET to March 10 at noon ET

Should the Wind Drop / Si le vent tombe
Nora Martirosyan, 2020, France/Armenia/Belgium, 100m
English, French, Armenian, and Russian with English subtitles
The disputed landlocked region of Nagorno-Karabakh is an eight-hour drive from the closest airport, but French auditor Alain (Claire Denis’s frequent muse Grégoire Colin) could change this if he determines that the war-torn republic’s inactive Stepanakert Airport can safely reopen. As he spends a week getting to know the locals, Alain discovers an area struggling to rebuild itself two decades after a fragile ceasefire between Armenia and Azerbaijan, and realizes that his regulatory decision could seal the global fate of a society on the verge of disappearance. Brought to life by a lively ensemble cast and a compassionate performance from Colin, this Cannes 2020 selection announces a sharp and forward-thinking new voice in Nora Martirosyan.
Available March 7 at noon ET to March 12 at noon ET

Charlène Favier, 2020, France, 90m
French with English subtitles
Lyz (Noée Abita, Ava, Rendez-Vous 2018) is a 15-year-old athlete on the brink of a breakthrough. She’s the newest recruit of a selective ski club, and her intense coach (Jérémie Renier, Double Lover) singles her out as a top contender for the Olympic gold. Lyz strives to prove she’s game for his grueling training sessions and hardens herself to its pressures, but with each win, her coach sweeps her further away from her closest confidantes—not only her teammate and friend Justine (Maïra Schmitt), but also her mother (Marie Denarnaud), who has moved to Marseille for work. Anchored by a sensitive and gripping performance by Abita, Charlène Favier’s ever-surprising debut deftly dissects the power dynamics of ambition and consent. A Kino Lorber release.
Available March 7 at noon ET to March 12 at noon ET

Virtual tickets go on sale Friday, February 19 at noon, with early access for Film at Lincoln Center members beginning Tuesday, February 16 at noon. Tickets are $12; Opening Night tickets are $17. A discounted festival All-Access Pass will also be available. FLC members save 20% on all individual rentals and the All-Access Pass. Become a member by February 13 at midnight to access Rendez-Vous member benefits AND save 15% on select memberships. Learn more about the limited-time membership offer here.

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