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Olivier Assayas in Residence: Cahiers du cinéma Week

October 4, 2007 - October 11, 2007

Irma Vep, October 5

"Is there anyone else around who captures the gravity of life with such a quick eye and such a gift for fleeting movement? Not to mention such innate wisdom."—Kent Jones

It is common knowledge that the icons of the French New Wave—Godard, Rivette, Rohmer, Truffaut—began their careers as writers for the influential publication Cahiers du cinéma. Olivier Assayas, born in 1955, is a newer member of that roster of Cahiers critics–turned-filmmakers. PFA is pleased to present this series of films directed and selected by Assayas, who appears in person October 4 through 7 in discussion with Cahiers du cinéma director Jean-Michel Frodon, and also holds a master class for local students on October 5.

The son of a screenwriter, Assayas joined the Cahiers staff in the early eighties. His writings on genre films, and especially his attention to the then-emerging cinema of Hong Kong, announced a writer of singular talent and focus. In 1986 he turned from criticism to filmmaking with the prizewinning Disorder. His early films, such as Cold Water (1994), are of and about their generation, marked by their feeling for the uncertainties, failures, and false starts of youth.

Assayas's best-known work, the Maggie Cheung vehicle Irma Vep (1996), saw the director draw inspiration from his roots as Cahiers's resident Hong Kong critic. 2002's demonlover, an erotic-industrial compu-noir, marked a further reinvention of the Assayas aesthetic, while his newest film, Boarding Gate, showing in its Bay Area premiere, audaciously expands those boundaries.

Assayas will appear in person with critic, journalist, and cinema historian Jean-Michel Frodon, the director of Cahiers du cinéma since 2003. For this series, Assayas has chosen films to be paired with his own; we reprint selections from his writings describing how each inspired his works. One can take the filmmaker away from film criticism, it seems, but one can never take the critic out of the filmmaker.

Jason Sanders
Associate Film Notes Writer

Thursday, October 4, 2007
7:30 p.m. Boarding Gate
Olivier Assayas and Jean-Michel Frodon in Conversation. Asia Argento, Michael Madsen, and Sonic Youth's Kim Gordon star in this sexed-up, globe-trotting crime noir, Assayas's tribute to European exploitation and Hong Kong gangster films.

Friday, October 5, 2007
2:30 p.m. Special Student Seminar (Admission Free)
Join Olivier Assayas and Jean-Michel Frodon for an exciting discussion of the creative endeavors of filmmaking and film criticism. This free event is designed for students, but open to the general public.

Friday, October 5, 2007
6:30 p.m. Irma Vep
Olivier Assayas and Jean-Michel Frodon in Conversation. Hong Kong icon Maggie Cheung plays herself as an actress suffering through ego battles and other disasters on a French indie film shoot.

Friday, October 5, 2007
9:00 p.m. Beware of a Holy Whore
Fassbinder's version of a film crew beset with personality clashes and other problems. With Eddie Constantine, Hanna Schygulla, Werner Schroeter, Lou Castel, and Fassbinder.

Saturday, October 6, 2007
6:30 p.m. demonlover
Olivier Assayas and Jean-Michel Frodon in Conversation. Japanese anime, Internet porn, and multinational corporate espionage fuel Assayas's tech-noir for the new millennium.

Saturday, October 6, 2007
9:20 p.m. Videodrome
James Woods discovers a television feed of torture in Cronenberg's notorious treatise on technological unease.

Sunday, October 7, 2007
3:00 p.m. Cold Water
Olivier Assayas and Jean-Michel Frodon in Conversation. Leonard Cohen, Roxy Music, and Dylan power this tale of rebellious teenagers in post-'60s France. "A genuine poetic masterpiece."—Kent Jones

Sunday, October 7, 2007
5:30 p.m. Monika
Ingmar Bergman naturalistically captures the sensuality and anguish of a youthful summer love affair in this acclaimed early work.

Thursday, October 11, 2007
7:30 p.m. Les destinées
Isabelle Huppert and Emmanuelle Béart star in this epic look at the fortunes of one French family from 1900 to 1930. "Quietly sumptuous . . . exhibits a flowing classicism and lightness."—New Yorker

Series coordinated by Kathy Geritz.

This program is made possible by the invaluable assistance and support of Sandrine Butteau, French Cultural Services, New York; and Christophe Musitelli, cultural attaché, Consulate General of France, San Francisco. We would also like to thank Dave Filipi, Wexner Center for the Arts.