Post New Wave: a tribute to "Cahiers du Cinéma"

curator: Ariel Schweitzer

The section Post New Wave: a tribute to "Cahiers du Cinéma" will show films by the masters of French cinema of the 1970s and 1980s that have rarely been screened in Poland, expanding the accomplishments of the directors of the New Wave, including films that are often even more experimental in terms of their narration and form.

In the presence of Jacques Doillon.


The New Horizons International Film Festival is honoured to pay a tribute this year to one of the most influential publications in the history of cinema, Cahiers du Cinéma, a magazine that revolutionized the field of film theory and criticism.

Cahiers du Cinéma, founded by André Bazin, Jacques Doniol-Valcroze and Joseph-Marie Lo Duca in 1951, offered an altogether new, original and bold way of looking at European and Hollywood films of its time. Under the direction of André Bazin, who died in 1958, the magazine discovered young critics such as Eric Rohmer, Jacques Rivette, Jean-Luc Godard, Claude Chabrol and François Truffaut, who would later go on to become the most important directors of the French New Wave cinematic movement. Over the years, the magazine remained ever attentive to the prevalent « zeitgeist », reinventing itself with each decade, whilst never losing sight of its fresh and innovative critical approach.

During the 1960s, Cahiers du Cinéma continued to play a pivotal role in the rise of French New Wave cinema, contributing immensely to the international acclaim of this movement, theorising its ideological and esthetical position under the title « La politique des auteurs ». In the 1970s, the magazine became starkly politicised, taking on a distinct Marxist approach, reflecting the spirit of the era, as well as its editors’ ideological bent. During those years, the magazine also delved deeply into what it saw as the ties between psychoanalysis and cinema, leaning heavily on the philosophical and psychoanalytical gospel of Jacques Lacan. In the 1980s, Cahiers du Cinéma broadened its critical scope to narrative and genre cinema, particularly American, whilst also increasingly focusing on peripheral cinema, primarily Asian and African.

From the late 1990s,, Cahiers du Cinéma began questioning all visual arts, exploring the diverse links and interconnections between cinema and painting, photography and video-art. In 2009, worldwide publishing group, Phaidon Press, which specializes in the publishing art books, bought the magazine. That same year, Stéphane Delorme became Cahiers’ Chef Editor while Jean-Philippe was named Deputy-Editor, functions they continue to hold until today.


Ariel Schweizer: POST NEW WAVE

Maurice Pialat, Philippe Garrel, Jacques Doillon, Jean Eustache, Marguerite Duras are without any doubt some of the most important and influential figures in the history of French cinema. But still, this generation of directors that first appeared in the late 60's isn't known enough outside of France.

One of the reasons is the fact that this is an intermediate generation which separates two very popular courants of the French cinema: the New Wave of the 60's (Truffaut, Godard, Chabrol, Rohmer, Rivette) and the Neo-Baroque cinema of the 80’s (Luc Besson, Jean-Jacques Beineix, Leos Carax). However, in many ways we can see in Pialat, Eustache, Doillon or Garrel the sons and the successors of the French New Wave (some of them, like Maurice Pialat, started directing films in the early 60's, during the glorious period of the New Wave). Furthermore, many of the New Wave esthetical codes are still expressed in the Post New Wave cinema of the 70's: realistic roughness, direct sound recording, emphasis on improvising, anecdotic plots that follows the characters in their everyday lives, affection to the urban space, especially Paris.

However, if the New Wave cinema was mainly bourgeois and basically a-political , the generation of the 70's placed its films in a whole different territory. The French cinema was indeed shaken by the events of May 1968: the collaboration between the students and the workers led to an impressive protest movement, followed by a wave of extensive reforms in the labour relation domain, the education system, the censorship and the status of women. It was the finest hour of the left movements, and by its end, in 1981, the socialist party managed to expel the liberal right party from power after a few decades of total domination. In many ways, the Post New Wave served as a mirror to those political and social processes, examining, sometimes in a very critic manner, the values of its time: the social and political protest, the sexual revolution, the collective life style, the free love utopia, the psychedelic and the drugs experience. It also have to noted that some of the Post New Wave’s film, mainly those of Maurice Pialat, were placed in territories that the French cinema has totally abandoned since the "Poetic Realism" of the 30's: the grey Parisian suburban and the provincial dull towns, where the heroes dream of running away from.

However, this social orientation went often together with an intensive esthetical experimentation and a systematic exploration of the boundaries of the cinematic language. Philippe Garrel combined a realistic narrative with an abstract-psychedelic motifs in his films, especially the ones he directed in the late 60's and the early 70's, while Marguerite Duras subverted the traditional relationships between sound and image. Together with Agnès Varda, Duras brought a feminine sensitivity to the French cinema of the 70's that was almost totally absent from it up until that time.

Like New Wave in the 60’s, the force of the generation of the Post New Wave constituted in the way it captured, mirrored and criticized its time: the sweet utopia of the 68 social movements, the rebellion against the conservative values of the De Gaulle regime; but also the grief and the melancholia left by the decline of these utopias. Cahiers du Cinéma, which was extremely politicised during the 70's, supported those directors tremendously, and saw them as the flame keepers of the French cinema he always defended : a creative and bold cinema that is attentive to the movement of time.


Ariel Schweizer, film critic (Cahiers du Cinéma), curator of the Post New Wave retrospective

Biography :

Cinema historian, film critic in the French magazine Les Cahiers du cinema and professor (Paris VIII / Tel-Aviv University), Ariel Schweitzer is the author of Le nouveau cinema israélien (Paris, 2013), Le cinéma israélien de la modernité (Paris 1997 / Tel-Aviv, 2003) and the editor of Il cinema israeliano contemporaneo (Venezia, 2009). He is also the translator to Hebrew of Notes sur le cinématographe by the French director Robert Bresson and the curator of many film’s retrospective, both in Israel, in Italy and in France, dedicated to Bresson, Jean-Luc Godard, David Perlov, Amos Gitai and Uri Zohar.



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