Date: Monday, February 25, 2019
Location: Brattle Theatre, 40 Brattle Street, Cambridge, MA
Director: Claire Simon
Film Details: 2018, 121 minutes, DCP, French with English subtitle
Winner of the Best Documentary on Cinema Award at the Venice Film Festival. Winner of the True Vision Award at the True / False Film Festival.
Filmmaker Claire Simon will attend in person for discussion with local filmmaker Ross McElwee, Professor of the Practice of Filmmaking at Harvard.
About the Film:
The Competition begins, significantly, with the image of a locked
gate—that of La Fémis, one of the most prestigious film schools in the
world, offering hands-on training from working professionals and
accepting only forty students per year from hundreds of applicants. This
Wiseman-esque documentary from Simon, one of France’s premiere
nonfiction filmmakers, observes the process whereby those lucky forty
are selected—a process which is revealed to be highly personal,
idiosyncratic, and subject to the vagaries of taste and personal
prejudice. Funny, penetrating, and surprisingly suspenseful, The Competition offers
not only a unique opportunity to see the inner workings of an
institution at the very heart of the French film industry, but an
invitation to look at the assumptions and roadblocks that shape any
national film industry, and higher education in general.
“A revealing portrait of an institution and its gatekeepers.” -DOC NYC
“If you’ve ever applied for anything with high stakes—a prestigious school, a dream job—Simon’s film will very slowly wreck you, precisely because it outlines how maddeningly subjective such determinations are… [The Competition] points to the underlying uncertainty in evaluating art.”
About the Director:
Born in London in 1955, Caire Simon is a French scriptwriter, actress, cinematographer, editor and director. As a filmmaker she first directed independent shorts. Her best remembered films of the period are “La police” (1988) and “Scènes de ménage”in 1991, starring Miou-Miou.
She then discovered the practice of ‘direct cinema’ with the Ateliers Varan and made several documentaries such as “Les patients” (1989), Coûteque coûte (1995) and Récréations (1998), which garnered multiple awards. Her first fiction feature-length movie, Sinon, oui (1997), the story of a woman who pretends to be pregnant and kidnaps a child, was presented at the Cannes Film Festival Directors’ Fortnight in 1997.
Her next film, made for TV, Ça, c’est vraiment toi (2000), an original work, half-documentary, half-fiction, filmed within the walls of the European Parliament, is awarded the great prize at the Belfort Film Festival. After an experience in the theater, Claire Simon returned to documentary with 800km de différence – Romance (2002) and Mimi (2003), presented at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2003.
Her second fiction film, Çabrûle (2006) was also selected for the Directors’ Fortnight in 2006. In 2008, Les bureaux de Dieu (2008) is another half-fiction, half-documentary work, with famous actors and actresses as the Family Planning counselors and amateur actresses impersonating real-life women who had come for help or guidance.
An atypical talent in the French movie world, Claire Simon has been trying for more than two decades to this day – ceaselessly and successfully – to capture the essence of reality.
FOR A MOMENT (À BOUT PORTÉS) Directed by Clémence Poésy
9 Minutes, 2016, French with English subtitles
Observing in close ups the students at the ballet school of the Opera de Paris, training tirelessly to build their future as dancers, Clémence Poésy offers an original outlook that leaves out of frame the bodies these girls and boys tame everyday.