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October 24 - 30, 2005

On Set with French Cinema: Bruno Dumont

On Set with French Cinema is an annual program through which illustrious French directors share their filmmaking experiences with American audiences.  This year marks the Boston-area debut of the program, which will celebrate the work of Bruno Dumont.  Often compared to Robert Bresson, Dumont studied philosophy and trained as a director of television commercials and industrial films.  He incorporates a documentary-like naturalism into his bold cinematic works such as Humanity, which was awarded top prizes at the 1999 Cannes Film Festival.   His most recent film, Twentynine Palms, further challenged filmgoers with its graphic depiction of sexuality and violence. This program includes Dumont's three feature films along with a rare appearance by the director himself.

This program is co-presented with the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Unifrance, French Cultural Services, and the Department of Visual and Environmental Studies at Harvard.


October 24 (Monday) 6:30 pm
October 30 (Sunday) 7 pm - Director Bruno Dumont In Person

Humanity (L'Humanité)

Directed by Bruno Dumont
France, 1999, Color, 148 min.
With Emmanuel Schotté, Sèverine Caneele, Philippe Tullier
English, French with English subtitles

The trappings of a crime drama provide the framework for this blunt look at carnal sexuality and savage violence. Detective's assistant Pharaon De Winter (Schotté), who lives with his mother and is silently in love with his neighbor Domino (Caneele), half-heartedly investigates the rape and murder of an 11-year-old girl; meanwhile, he tags along with Domino and her thuggish boyfriend, who revels in brazenly flaunting the law in front of an impotent Pharaon.  Through this unlikely protagonist the film probes the thin line between civilization and animal instinct.

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Ocotber 25 (Tuesday) 9:15 pm
October 29 (Saturday) 7 pm

The Life of Jesus (La Vie de Jèsus)

Directed by Bruno Dumont
France, 1997, Color, 96 min.
With Sébastien Bailleul, Samuel Boidin, Geneviéve Cottreel
French with English subtitles

A shocker at Cannes because of its unromanticized coverage of real sex, Bruno Dumont's provocatively-titled, Cinemascope film is about a group of misdirected friends in the Northern French countryside.  It centers on epileptic, chronically unemployed Freddy, his intense couplings with sexy Marie, and his motorcycle rides with his bored, nothing-else-to-do pals.  One day, an Arab boy appears in the town, and has eyes for Marie.  Racism and revenge follow.  Dumont used local, non-professional actors to create a naturalistic portrait of rural Flanders for one of the most critically praised French films of recent years.

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October 29 (Saturday) 9 pm
November 2 (Wednesday) 9 pm

Twentynine Palms

Directed by Bruno Dumont
France/Germany/US, 2003, Color, 119 min.
With Yekaterina Golubeva, David Wissak
English and French with English subtitles

An American and his French-speaking Russian girlfriend wander through the Southwest (including a strikingly photographed Joshua Tree National Park), fornicating more than talking. Dumont has called this an "experimental horror film," and he sets a tense mood through long, atmospheric sequences in which the couple drive through the desert, leading up to an eventual explosion of underlying violence.  With this minimalist exercise, Dumont extends the European-director-in-America tradition of such films as Michelangelo Antonioni's Zabriskie Point and Wim Wenders' Paris, Texas.

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