Jacques Rivette: retrospective of a French visionary

17th TNH to feature films by Coppola, Lelio, Mundruczó, and Lowery Enthusiasts and oddities: Films on Art at the 17th T-Mobile NH IFF

One of the most important events at this year's Festival will be a retrospective of the work of Jacques Rivette, who passed away in January 2016. He was one of the masters of the French New Wave, a realist and visionary who made cult films that were often radical and spectacular at the same time. He is recognized as the maker of the first film of the New Wave (the short Fool's Mate from 1956). The program will contain 11 films-most of which are being shown in Poland for the first time-by this enigmatic filmmaker who was enamored with every act of creation and imagination.

The program will include the wonderful surrealist fantasy Celine and Julie Go Boating (1974), which was an award winner at Locarno; the unusual melodrama L'amour fou (1969), with a runtime of over four hours; Secret Defense (1998), starring Jerzy Radziwiłowicz; La Belle Noiseuse (1991), the Grand Prix winner at Cannes, starring the unforgettable duo of Michel Piccoli and Emmanuelle Bèart; The Nun (1966), a scandal in its day, starring the wonderful Anna Karina; the unusual musical Up, Down, Fragile (1995); the fascinating The Gang of Four (1989), which explores the relationship between life and theater; the late masterpiece Va Savoir (Who Knows?) (2001); as well as his debut film, Paris belongs to Us (1961). This selection will be complemented by restored versions of several of Rivette's short films and the intriguing documentary by Serge Daney and Claire Denis, Jacques Rivette, the Watchman (1990).

The program will also include the director's nearly 13-hour-long magnum opus, Out 1, which will be shown in four parts. Paradoxically, as Rivette's films became longer, their screenplays became shorter. Michel Lonsdale, who appeared in Out 1, once said that one of the longest works in cinematic history was based on nothing more than a densely written sheet of paper. The French director's approach was that a film was born on-set and was finished when seen by viewers. His stories are structured around several narratives, with the multi-level plot swelling until the finale, which, instead of a resolution, leads to a deliberately playful narrative fiasco. Perhaps that is why his highly stylized stories, often slipping into fantasy, manage to capture so perfectly the capricious unpredictability of real life: usually ending with a sting rather than an elegant resolution to life's complex plot lines. Rivette's reluctance to adopt a classical narrative structure was also a declaration of absolute cinematic and formal freedom. He did not allow him himself to be limited by time or genre; he did not restrain his actors with rigid expectations, allowing them instead to make their own creative contributions. Jerzy Radziwiłowicz, who starred in Secret Defense,had this to say: Rivette was always in a state of particular uncertainty: not because he didn't know what he was doing. He was simply constantly evaluating things to see what we would collectively make of it. His belief was that a film could only be made by working together. This sense of community is a really beautiful thing. That doesn't happen with every director.

The retrospective will be accompanied by a book, Sekretny świat Jacques'a Rivette'a (The Secret World of Jacques Rivette, EKRANA Publishing House). It is a collection of texts by leading experts on Rivette from France, the United States, Great Britain and Poland, who will reveal all the secrets of the director's enigmatic work. Edited by Rafał Syski, the book contains texts that range from ephemeral essays texts to more analytical and theoretical works.

The director's wife, Véronique Manniez-Rivette, and Jerzy Radziwiłowicz will be in Wrocław for the retrospective.

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