Rendez-Vous With French Cinema Film Festival

Saturday, Mar 13, 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.

Spring Blossom / Seize printemps
Suzanne Lindon, 2020, France, 73m
French with English subtitles
An official selection at Cannes, San Sebastian, and TIFF, this charming debut feature from 20-year-old Suzanne Lindon offers a bold and exploratory twist on a coming-of-age tale. Lindon plays Suzanne, a 16-year-old student daydreaming through a mundane high-school spring. While walking home, she catches sight of a handsome theater actor, Raphaël (Arnaud Valois, BPM (Beats Per Minute)), similarly lost in his own thoughts. They’re intrigued by each other, and their conversations eventually whisk them into a world of their own, which Lindon brings to life with freewheeling musical numbers and oneiric vignettes. A refreshing jaunt with a hidden wavelength, Spring Blossom coaxes Suzanne’s dreams out into the open. A KimStim release.
Available March 8 at noon ET to March 13 at noon ET

Lifelines / Si demain
Fabienne Godet, 2020, France, 86m
French with English subtitles
Esther (Julie Moulier) is still reeling from a tumultuous breakup when a package with no return address arrives at her doorstep. Inside, Esther finds an anonymous diary, whose 20-year-old entries were written by a young woman who lost her lover in a motorcycle accident. This mysterious occurrence draws Esther out of her depression and into a tantalizing paper trail. With the encouragement of her best friend (Lucie Debay), she travels to Toulouse in search of the diary’s owner-but Esther’s adventure may lead her to run out a clock she didn’t realize was ticking. Also featuring BPM (Beats Per Minute)’s Arnaud Valois in an intriguing supporting role, Lifelines injects an enigma into a moment of crisis to ask what-and who-matters most in life.
Available March 9 at noon ET to March 14 at noon ET

Love Affair(s) / Les Choses qu’on dit, les choses qu’on fait
Emmanuel Mouret, 2020, France, 120m
French with English subtitles
When Daphné (Camélia Jordana) picks up her partner’s cousin Maxime (Niels Schneider, Dark Inclusion, Rendez-Vous 2016) from the train station, their idle chatter is at first innocuous. He’s hoping to work on a novel while visiting Daphné and François (Vincent Macaigne, Non-Fiction, NYFF56) in the country; she’s three months pregnant and looking forward to starting a family. But as they wander through local châteaux while waiting for François to return from a work emergency, stories of the past open up Rohmerian curlicues of passion and fidelity. In the hands of Emmanuel Mouret (Mademoiselle de Joncquières, Rendez-Vous 2019), Love Affair(s) is a lush, philosophical tale of serendipitous timing and the unpredictable flow of desire. Nominated for 13 César Awards including Best Film, Best Director, and all four acting categories.
Available March 9 at noon ET to March 14 at noon ET

The Big Hit / Un triomphe
Emmanuel Courcol, 2020, France, 106m
French with English subtitles
When jaded retired actor Étienne (Kad Merad, Orchestra Class, Rendez-Vous 2018) begins leading theater workshops at a correctional facility, he’s inspired by what he sees: as the inmates rehearse a series of fables, their performances reveal a humor and authenticity that’s often repressed by their daily routines. Perceiving existential parallels between the inmates’ experiences and Waiting for Godot, Étienne convinces the prison staff to let the troupe stage Samuel Beckett’s classic. But as Étienne learns the ropes of directing a full-length play, he also faces friction with bureaucratic administrators. Inspired by a true story, this Cannes 2020 selection is a rousing testament to the power of expression. Its bittersweet humanism flows effortlessly from its assured ensemble.
Available March 10 at noon ET to March 15 at noon ET

Samir Guesmi, 2020, France, 78m
French with English subtitles
Ibrahim (Abdel Bendaher) is a solitary 17-year-old trade school student who lives in a cramped banlieue housing project with his intense father, Ahmed (director Samir Guesmi), and dreams of soccer success. When his close friend Achille (Rabah Naït Oufella, Nocturama, Rendez-Vous 2017) starts flirting with petty robbery, a reluctant Ibrahim is swept up in a plan that goes awry. With money already tight after Ahmed allocates funds for an important dental procedure, Ibrahim resolves to make up the difference himself. With a simmering breakout performance from Bendaher, this Cannes 2020 selection is a thrilling slice of social realism, sensitive to the barriers of race and class as Ibrahim and Ahmed forge upwardly mobile futures.
Available March 11 at noon ET to March 16 at noon ET

Lovers / Amants
Nicole Garcia, 2020, France, 103m
English and French with English subtitles
Hotel-school student Lisa (Stacy Martin, Nymphomaniac) is wrapped up in a passionate romance with Simon (Pierre Niney, François Ozon’s Frantz), who makes a living dealing drugs to wealthy clients. When one of his customers overdoses on bad coke, Simon is forced to skip town, possibly never to see a heartbroken Lisa again. But three years later, their desire is sparked anew when they reunite by chance on an island in the Indian Ocean, where Lisa is traveling with her real-estate developer husband (Benoît Magimel, The Piano Teacher). In this noirish love triangle from actress and filmmaker Nicole Garcia (From the Land of the Moon, Rendez-Vous 2017), the stakes heighten with each knotty, seductive twist.
Available March 11 at noon ET to March 16 at noon ET

À l’abordage!
Guillaume Brac, 2020, France, 95m
French with English subtitles
After a chance meeting and a night spent dancing by the Seine, Félix (Eric Nantchouang) is smitten with Alma (Asma Messaoudene). But when dawn breaks, she hurries to the train to join her family on vacation in the south of France. Undeterred, Félix and his friend Chérif (Salif Cissé) decide to go camping in the same lush, mountainous region, only to end up stranded with their dorky carpool driver (Édouard Sulpice) 600 km away from home… and it still remains to be seen how Alma will respond to Félix’s surprise. This latest tale from Guillaume Brac (Tonnerre, Rendez-Vous 2014; July Tales, Rendez-Vous 2018) details its characters with a rare acuity, and entwines their matters of the heart and their political and existential yearnings with humor and wit reminiscent of Jacques Rozier’s films.
Available March 12 at noon ET to March 17 at noon ET

Mandibles / Mandibules
Quentin Dupieux, 2020, France/Belgium, 77m
French with English subtitles
Although rumpled loser Manu (Grégoire Ludig, of Dupieux’s Keep an Eye Out!) is initially contracted to transport a suitcase between shady businessmen, life has other plans. When he opens the trunk of his stolen car, he finds a living, breathing housefly the size of a Great Dane. Sensing an opportunity, Manu’s pal Jean-Gab (David Marsais) suggests that if they trained the jumbo insect to move like a drone and steal goods, they could make a fortune. Escalating mishaps-including a torched RV and a case of mistaken identities, with an unforgettable turn by Blue Is the Warmest Color’s Adèle Exarchopoulos—hilariously prove that domesticating a mutant bug is easier said than done. In the hands of the inexhaustibly imaginative Dupieux (Deerskin, Rendez-Vous 2020), a surprisingly tender portrait of friendship emerges along the way. A Magnolia release.
Available March 12 at noon ET to March 17 at noon ET

Final Set / Cinquième set
Quentin Reynaud, 2020, France, 113m
French with English subtitles
At 37 years of age, seasoned tennis player Thomas (Alex Lutz) finds himself at a crossroads. Still driven by unfulfilled dreams of superstardom, he’s determined to clinch a career-defining championship ranking, but after 18 years in the game, he’s battling worsening arthritis in his knee. As he throws himself into qualifying matches against players two decades his junior, he juggles a mounting series of pressures off the court, including an increasingly surreal public-relations circus, the necessity of making ends meet for his wife (Ana Girardot) and son, and friction with his mother (a steely Kristin Scott Thomas), who owns a tennis club. Quentin Reynaud’s masterful interior portrait of an athlete infuses nerve-wracking mental and physical stakes into each exhilarating set. A Film Movement release.
Available March 13 at noon ET to March 18 at noon ET

Summer of ’85 / Été ’85
François Ozon, 2020, France/Belgium, 100m
English and French with English subtitles
Normandy, 1985. Budding teenage writer Alexis (Félix Lefebvre, School’s Out, Rendez-Vous 2019) capsizes while he’s out sailing on a stormy afternoon, but he’s saved from certain death by the statuesque, mercurial David (Benjamin Voisin). They become fast friends, and Alexis starts working for David’s affectionate but scattered mother (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, star and director of A Castle in Italy). Alexis’s attraction to David soon blossoms into passion, but turns, by the end of the summer, into a deeper meditation on mortality and the unknown. Awash in sun-kissed pastels and period-appropriate tracks from The Cure, Summer of ’85 is a cursed romance in the key of Rimbaud and Verlaine that pulls apart the comforts of nostalgia in the heat of the present. A Music Box release. Nominated for 12 César Awards including Best Film, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay.
Available March 13 at noon ET to March 18 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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