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November 26 - November 29

Nicolas Philibert: Five Films

One of the great European documentarians, Nicolas Philibert began his education by studying philosophy and later worked as an assistant director with such filmmakers as Rene Allio and Alain Tanner. Philibert's ability to approach man with tenderness, directness and sensitivity appears in his film In the Land of the Deaf, an exploration of the world through the eyes of those born without the sense of hearing. In 1995 Philibert revisited the subject of museums--also explored in Louvre City--finding humanity and humor within these stately institutions. Animals and More Animals examines the zoological wing of France's Museum of Natural History, which had been closed for years, and brings to light its unusual treasures. Minimalist and exceedingly moving, Philibert's films have received awards in festivals and various events, but have also achieved a rare feat in France: box office success. Along with Cahiers du Cinema editor Jean Michel Frodon, Philibert joins us to discuss his unique work in nonfiction film.

This program is co-presented with the Department of Visual and Environmental Studies at Harvard and French Cultural Services. Program notes courtesy of the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival.


November 26 (Sunday) 7 pm

Louvre City (La Ville Louvre)

Directed by Nicolas Philibert
France 1990, 35mm, color, 81 min.
French with English subtitles
Director Nicolas Philibert and Critic Jean Michel Frodon In Person

What happens at the Louvre Museum when it is closed to the public? During the Grand Louvre’s extensive renovations, the museum opened its corridors to a film crew for the first time. People are seen moving paintings and reorganizing rooms. Miles of underground corridors and galleries cross each other. Little by little, the secret, and sometimes comical, mundane, sublime and fascinating world of one of the most famous museums in the world is revealed. A veritable city within a city opens its heart to us.

Animals and More Animals (Un animal, des animaux)

Directed by Nicolas Philibert
France 1996, 35mm, color, 59 min.
French with English subtitles

The zoological gallery of France’s Natural History Museum was closed to the public for over 25 years, leaving thousands of stuffed animals forgotten in the shadows. Shot during the gallery’s renovations, the film documents its metamorphosis and the resurrection of its strange lodgers.

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November 28 (Tuesday) 7 pm

To Be and To Have (Etre et avoir)

Directed by Nicolas Philibert
France 2002, 35mm, color, 104 min.
French with English subtitles
Director Nicolas Philibert In Person

Beautifully shot in and around a one-room schoolhouse in the
Auvergne region of France, To Be and To Have captures poignant moments in the lives of a dedicated teacher and his students, while demonstrating the power of following one’s passion. With 13 students to teach, George Lopez spends time encouraging the quiet and reserved Nathalie to come out of her shell, coaching the young Jojo with his letters and numbers and fearlessly sliding down the snowy hills of the countryside with an enthusiasm paralleled only by the students who slide down with him. Not only does this film reveal that teaching is a “calling”, but it also portrays a unique learning environment and an inspired method of education.

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November 28 (Tuesday) 9:15 pm

In the Land of the Deaf (Le Pays des sourdes)

Directed by Nicolas Philibert
France, 1992, 35mm, color, 99 min.
French with English subtitles

Nicolas Philibert's documentary features hearing-impaired people of all ages and from all walks of life, focusing on the students and teachers in a French school for deaf children and exploring the personal lives of some of the pupils and various adults, including an actor, a sign-language teacher, and an engaged couple. Sensitive and fascinating, In the Land of the Deaf is a moving account of its subjects' lives.

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November 29 (Wednesday) 9:15 pm

Every Little Thing (La Moindre des choses)

Directed by Nicolas Philibert
France 1996, 35mm, color, 105 min.
French with English subtitles

During the summer of 1995, true to what had become a tradition, the patients and nurses of La Borde psychiatric clinic came together to put on a play. “I was interested in people who, at a particular moment, in a very specific context, were considered mad. [...] Behind this label, there are people who are not that far removed from ourselves and who question us, examine us.” (NP)

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