ColCoa Roundup: ‘A Few Hours of Spring’ (Quelques Heures de Printemps) Review

This week the Mediascape Blog is running a series of posts by Laura Swanbeck on the 2013 ColCoa Film Festival.

Once Alain Évrard (Vincent Lindon), an unemployed, taciturn truck driver, is released from prison following a smuggling conviction, he strives for normalcy and traction in a world thrown out of joint. Settling in with his elderly and estranged mother, Yvette (the terrific Hélène Vincent), he soon becomes suffocated by her regimented lifestyle and constant nagging. Her immaculate housekeeping suggests order, belying decades of unearthed tension between mother and son and a protective veneer that’s slowly falling apart.

Admittedly, A Few Hours of Spring—the latest film from Stéphane Brizé (Not Here to Be Loved, Mademoiselle Chambon), which debuted at the Locarno Film Festival last year and made its U.S. premiere at ColCoa—is a study in patience. It’s more about loaded glances and pregnant pauses than it is about anything actually said between the pair. In fact, the film pivots not on the unwillingness to communicate after a traumatic series of events, but rather on the inability to do so. Brizé’s methodically paced drama intimates that the absent father was most likely physically and emotionally abusive to his family, and neither Yvette nor Alain has ever fully come to terms with this fact. Alain seeks solace in the arms of a woman he meets at a bowling alley (Emmanuelle Seigner, who recently starred in Polanski’s Venus in Fur at Cannes), but refuses to open up about his past imprisonment, which causes strife in their relationship. Continue reading “ColCoa Roundup: ‘A Few Hours of Spring’ (Quelques Heures de Printemps) Review” »

ColCoa Roundup: ‘The Attack’ (L’attentat) Review

This week the Mediascape Blog is running a series of posts by Laura Swanbeck on the 2013 ColCoa Film Festival.

Contentious to its core, The Attack, the latest film from Ziad Doueiri (West of Beirut), centers on Amin Jaafari (Ali Sulman), a well-respected Palestinian doctor living in Tel Aviv. Based on the best-selling novel by Yasmina Khadra (the pen name of Algerian author Mohammed Moulessehoul), the film follows Amin as he uncovers a secret surrounding his wife, Siham (Reymond Amsalem), in the aftermath of a suicide bombing that killed 17 people. In desperate search of answers, Amin travels to Palestine in hopes of shedding light on his marriage and coming to terms with Siham’s involvement in the bombing, but ultimately ends up negotiating his own identity and facing his complacency as both a husband and a physician. While Amin leads a peaceful, non-confrontational life in Israel, he can no longer ignore the ubiquitous anguish and simmering resentment once he returns to his homeland.

Why is this film, which premiered at Telluride last fall, raising so much suspicion and indignation worldwide? Ironically, it’s due not to fundamentalist proclivities, but for its endeavor at neutrality. Seeking to show both Israeli and Palestinian sides of the conflict, Doueiri has ignited a firestorm, with the Arab League asking all 22 nation-states to boycott the film. In light of the political controversy, the film’s financial backers in Qatar and Egypt have also insisted that their names be removed from the final credits. Continue reading “ColCoa Roundup: ‘The Attack’ (L’attentat) Review” »

ColCoa Roundup: Introduction

This week the Mediascape Blog is running a series of posts by Laura Swanbeck on the 2013 ColCoa Film Festival.

I have wanted to set foot inside the Directors Guild of America ever since moving to Los Angeles in the fall of 2012. Last month I had the opportunity to do just that with the commencement of the 17th annual ColCoa (City of Lights, City of Angels) Film Festival, for which the DGA plays host. Invited by Executive Producer and Artistic Director Franois Truffart as well as Associate Director Sandrine De Clercq to cover the festival, I felt humbled to be among such incredibly talented filmmakers from around the world, not to mention having the chance to work alongside journalists from publications ranging from American Cinematographer to Le Monde.

What followed was a whirlwind week at the second largest French film festival, during which I attended myriad screenings (many of which were North American debuts), observed panels, and participated in press sessions. For a week, Francophiles flocked to the DGA to experience premieres, homages, restorations, and retrospectives by renowned French filmmakers. Director Wes Anderson received ColCoa’s honorary “carte blanche” and chose to program Louis Malle’s classic Le Feu Follet (1963), starring Maurice Ronet and Jeanne Moreau. The festival also featured a digital restoration of Jacques Demy’s Bay of Angels (1963) as well as the 35th Anniversary screening of The Brönte Sisters (1979), directed by Andre Techiné and starring Isabelle Adjani, Isabelle Hupert, and Marie-France Pisier. Continue reading “ColCoa Roundup: Introduction” »