Rendez-Vous With French Cinema Film Festival

Wednesday, Mar 17, 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.


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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