film tv & new media / events / TORONTO - Olivier Assayas Retrospective at the TIFF Cinematheque

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In 2017, TIFF Cinematheque revives its tradition of "Summer in France" with retrospectives on Jean-Pierre Melville and Olivier Assayas and a French Crime films series.

Over the past four decades, Olivier Assayas has established himself as one of the most important filmmakers in world cinema. First coming to the attention of North American audiences in the 1990s with films such as Irma Vep and Late August, Early September, Assayas has recently reached an even higher level of prominence thanks to his brilliantly unlikely collaboration with American actress Kristen Stewart on Clouds of Sils Maria and Personal Shopper. This complete retrospective, the first ever mounted in Toronto, allows audiences the opportunity to discover the full breadth of Assayas’ singular oeuvre.

Cold Water (1994)

Set in suburban Paris in 1972, Assayas’ cruel story of youth follows two troubled teen lovers, Gilles (Cyprien Fouquet) and Christine (Virginie Ledoyen), in the disillusioned aftermath of May ’68. Both hailing from broken homes, the teens struggle to communicate with their parents (Gilles’ father is movingly played by French New Wave mainstay László Szabó) and rage against the Establishment, eventually deciding to run away together.
Screening times:
Thu, June 22, 6:15 pm - introduction by Olivier Assayas

Clean (2004)

Maggie Cheung won the Best Actress award at Cannes for her performance as Emily, a drug-addicted former VJ looking to get her life back on track. After attending a Metric concert in Hamilton, Ontario, Emily gets into a fight with her fading rock-star boyfriend Lee (played by musician James Johnston, formerly of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds); returning to their hotel room in the morning, she is arrested by the police, who  have found Lee dead of a heroin overdose. After serving a short jail sentence, Emily decides to et clean in hopes of reconnecting with her young son, who is currently in the custody of Lee’s father (Nick Nolte).
Screening times:
Fri, June 23, 6:15 pm - introduction by Olivier Assayas

Irma Vep (1996)

Deceptively modest and endlessly fascinating, Assayas’ satirical reflection on the state of French cinema circa 1996 features Hong Kong megastar Maggie Cheung, who plays herself, creeping across the rooftops of Paris in a latex catsuit as she recreates the role of villainess Irma Vep in a remake of Louis Feuillade’s 1915 classic Les Vampires.
Screening times:
Sat, June 24, 6:15 pm - preceded by Recrudescence and Man Yuk: A Portrait of Maggie Cheung

Late August, Early September (1998)

Set over the course of a year, Late August, Early September explores the fragile relationships amongst a group of friends as they struggle to adjust to adulthood. Book editor Gabriel (Mathieu Almaric), who has just broken up with his ex-partner (Jeanne Balibar), finds himself in a tumultuous relationship with a new girlfriend (Virginie Ledoyen). When his best friend (François Cluzet), a promising yet underachieving novelist, discovers he has a life-threatening illness, Gabriel is forced to confront his own emotional immaturity.
Screening times:
Sat, June 24, 8:45 pm

Les Destinées Sentimentales (2000)

Based on the novel by Jacques Chardonne, Assayas’ lush period piece follows the life of a Protestant minister, Jean Barnery (Charles Berling), over the first three decades of the 20th century. After falling in love with Pauline (Emmanuelle Béart), Jean leaves the clergy, his wife Nathalie (Isabelle Huppert) and young daughter Aline (played as an adult by Mia Hansen-Løve) for a new life in Switzerland, returning to his family home of Limoges many years later to take over the Barnery porcelain business after his uncle dies. Enduring the horrors of WWI and navigating the changing social and political landscape and the rapid pace of modernization, Jean struggles to maintain his integrity at both work and home.
Screening times:
Sun, June 25, 8:45 pm

Eldorado (2008)

A compelling portrait of two great artists at work, Eldorado explores the process of creation as French choreographer Antonin Preljocaj prepares to stage a contemporary ballet based on German composer Karlheinz Stockhausen’s experimental composition Sonntags-Abschied.
Screening times:
Sun, July 2, 6:30 pm

Disorder (1986)

Winner of the International Critics Prize at the Venice Film Festival, Assayas’ debut feature is
both a pulsating portrait of France’s mid-’80s post-punk scene and a poetic exploration of youthful disillusionment. Two young musicians, Yvan (Wadeck Stanczak) and Henri (Lucas
Belvaux), along with Henri’s girlfriend Anne (Ann-Gisel Glass), break into a music store on
a rainy evening looking to steal instruments; encountering the store’s owner, the trio accidentally kills him in an altercation before fleeing into the night. Unable to acknowledge their crime and struggling with guilt, the three slowly come apart.
Screening times:
Thu, July 6, 8:45 pm - preceded by Rectangle - Deux de Jacno and Winston Tong en studio

demonlover (2002)

Following the period-piece epic Les Destinées, Assayas made a radical right turn with this dizzying, cutting-edge dispatch on a 21st-century culture of corporate espionage, rampant consumerism, media overload and sexual violence. A steely Connie Nielsen stars as Diane de Monx, a ruthless business exec trying to acquire the distribution rights to the work of a Japanese animation studio specializing in hentai (anime porn). Outmanoeuvring both her colleagues (Dominique Reymond and Charles Berling) and an American rival (Gina Gershon), Diane is sucked into a vortex of robbery, rape and murder as the film’s narrative itself begins to fragment.
Screening times:
Sat, July 8, 6:30 pm

Winter's child (1989)