FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Margot Gerber

Tel.: 213/466-FILM ext. 115

Date: April 29, 1997

 

THE AMERICAN CINEMATHEQUE PRESENTS THE

FIRST MAJOR U.S. RETROSPECTIVE IN A DECADE, OF THE WORK OF FRENCH DIRECTOR GEORGES FRANJU

 

FEATURING EYES WITHOUT A FACE, JUDEX & THE BLOOD OF THE BEAST

 

Presented in Association With the French Ministry Of Foreign Affairs &

French Cultural Services – Los Angeles

 

Weekends May 23 - 31, 1997

 

HOLLYWOOD –The American Cinematheque presents "Sacred Monsters: The Fantastic Cinema Of Georges Franju," the first US retrospective in a decade, of the work of French director and co-founder of the Cinémathèque Francaise, Georges Franju (1912-1987). The series, which runs weekends, May 23rd through 31st, features Two Rare Screenings of Franju’s mystical thriller JUDEX (1964) as well as his most famous films, the poetic horror classic EYES WITHOUT A FACE (1959) and the infamous slaughterhouse documentary THE BLOOD OF THE BEAST (1949). Other highlights of the series include screenings of rare 35mm prints of THE SINS OF FATHER MOURET (1970) an adaptation of an Emile Zola novel; THOMAS THE IMPOSTER (1965), an hallucination of the First World War as seen through the eyes of a 16-year-old boy; and the first screening in 20 years of the long-lost SHADOWMAN (1974), an homage to the serial thrillers of Franju’s youth. The Cinematheque continues its unique version of dinner theater with a May 31st Georges Franju inspired feast in connection with that night’s screenings. "I have always been attracted by emanations of strangeness," observed Franju, whose films portray a surreal, haunted world of madness and mystery. All screenings are at the Raleigh Studios Charlie Chaplin Theater (5300 Melrose Avenue between Bronson & Van Ness) in Hollywood. All films are directed by Georges Franju.

Georges Franju (1912-1987), who in 1937 co-founded the Cinémathèque Francaise with Henri Langlois, started his filmmaking career later in life then most directors. It wasn’t until 1949 when Franju completed his first film THE BLOOD OF THE BEAST (LE SANG DES BETES), a short unflinching documentary of Paris slaughterhouses in action, that he began his rise to prominence as a director and visionary filmmaker. Over the course of thirty-plus years, he directed only a dozen features and television films, and a handful of shorts – yet he remains one of the major French directors of the post-war period. When Franju was a child he fell in love with the French pulp novels Fantomas and Judex, whose intoxicating stories of violence and savage villainy had a major impact on him, and later inspired him to create mystical thrillers like JUDEX, EYES WITHOUT A FACE (LES YEUX SANS VISAGE), and SHADOWMAN. If Franju has been hard to pin down, it’s because he remains a genre of his own: the clear, dreamlike texture of his films embrace both documentary and fiction. He remains a cousin to Cocteau, Buñuel and the other Surrealists, standing apart from them the way he stood apart from the younger New Wave directors, many of whom practically idolized him. Jean-Luc Godard once wrote, "This is Franju’s art…to turn the camera’s gaze on faces and objects just long enough to brand them deeply." Few filmmakers have gone as far into that ethereal zone between mystery and anguish, between the possible and the unbearable.

 

WEEKEND 1: May 23rd & 24th

The series kicks off on Friday, May 23rd at 7:15 PM with a screening of a super-rare 35mm print of JUDEX (1964, 95 min.). In describing the film, Sight & Sound comments, "Vigo, Fellini, Feuillade, Murnau, Dreyer, even Carné meet together with Henry James, …Breton, Baudelaire, Kafka and Proust." Franju transports the 1960’s back to 1914 for this spellbinding, mystical serial-thriller. Judex (Channing Pollock) is a caped crusader going up against sinister cat-suited Francine Bergé and family in an Art Nouveau tale of mystery and revenge. Of all of Franju’s films, JUDEX pulls us deepest into that "haunted void" where nightwalkers climb sheer walls and white doves flutter magically back to life. Plus, on the same bill is THE BLOOD OF THE BEAST (LE SANG DES BETES, 1949, 20 min.), Franju’s first film, which is considered to be one of cinema’s purest achievements: an unflinching portrait of the bloody routine of butchery in a Paris slaughterhouse. Of THE BLOOD OF THE BEAST, Jean Cocteau said, " There is not a single shot that does not move us, almost for no cause, through the sole beauty of the style, the great visual calligaphy." And "…it seizes drama with both hands." There will be a repeat screening of JUDEX on Saturday May 24th at 7:15 PM. Following at 9:30 PM is EYES WITHOUT A FACE (LES YEUX SANS VISAGE, 1959, Interama, 88 MIN.) which the London Evening Standard called, "One of the most poetic horror films in the history of cinema." Originally released in the U.S. as THE HORROR CHAMBER OF DR. FAUSTUS, EYES WITHOUT A FACE is a diabolical chiller about a brilliant scientist who steals the faces of young women to restore his own daughter’s shattered looks. Film critic Tom Milne calls it "an incandescent flame of beauty, terror and madness." With Pierre Brasseur, Edith Scob and Aida Valli. Plus, on the same bill is LE GRAND MELIES (1952, Interama, 32 min.), Franju’s loving tribute to the master of cinéma fantastique, George Melies.

The Saturday, May 24th program begins at 7:15 PM with a repeat screening of JUDEX (1964, 95 min.) and THE BLOOD OF THE BEAST (LE SANG DES BETES, 1949, 20 min.) (See Friday, May 23rd at 7:15 PM for further information). Following at 9:30 PM is a screening of Franju’s first feature film, THE KEEPERS (LE TÊTE CONTRE LES MURS, 1958, 98 min.). The film opens with a young motorcyclist (Jean-Pierre Mocky) roaring through the hills – within minutes he is slapped into a mental asylum by his father for a petty crime. Anouk Aimée (LOLA) stars as the lovely young woman working to smuggle Mocky to freedom, with singer Charles Aznavour in an excellent supporting role as one of the boy’s fellow inmates. "THE KEEPERS speaks of a God grown silent, except in the eerie jubilant soprano of a beautiful girl in the asylum chapel," Sight & Sound. Plus, on the same bill MR. AND MRS. CURIE (MONSIEUR ET MADAME CURIE 1953, 16 min.), Franju’s short docu-drama on the discoverers of radiation. Nicole Stephane (LES ENFANTS TERRIBLES) stars as Madame Curie. (Note: In French with no English subtitles).

 

WEEKEND 2: May 30thh & 31th

The Friday, May 30th program begins at 7:15 PM with a screening of a Rare 35mm print of THOMAS THE IMPOSTER (THOMAS L’IMPOSTEUR, 1965, Filmel, 93 min.), with Emmanuele Riva and Fabrice Rouleau. "What can one dreamer make of another?" Jean Cocteau asked when he gave his novel to Franju to adapt for the screen. The result is a remarkable hallucination of the First World War, seen through the eyes of a sixteen year old boy pretending to be the nephew of a famous general. Like Cocteau’s own ORPHEUS, THOMAS THE IMPOSTER hovers somewhere above life and death, disembodied, staring in amazement at the pale ghosts crawling past the ruins of bombed-out cathedrals. Plus, on the same bill, Franju’s NAVIGATION MARCHANDE (1954) a documentary look at a French luxury liner. Following at 9:30 PM is a screening of THERESE DESQUEYROUX (1962, 109 min.) Thirty years before Todd Haynes directed SAFE, Franju made this unnerving portrait of a woman totally horrified by her life and surroundings. Her terror is so overwhelming, she tries to poison her husband and winds up trapped in a cage of unexpressed emotions and memories. Emmanuele Riva plays Therese, a heartbreaking enigma and Franju favorite, Edith Scob, plays Therese’s lost childhood friend. Plus, HOTEL DES INVALIDES (1951, 23 min.), Franju’s scathing, surreal portrait of the Paris veteran’s hospital. This attack on war, is considered (along with THE BLOOD OF THE BEASTS) to be one of the major achievements in French documentary filmmaking.

The Saturday, May 31st program begins at 7:15 PM with the first screening in 20 years, of Franju’s "Lost" film SHADOWMAN (NUITS ROUGES, 1974, Criterion, 90 min), Franju’s final homage to the serial-thrillers of his youth. SHADOWMAN is the feature version of THE MAN WITHOUT A FACE, a lengthy mini-series shot for French TV. Here, the malevolent Shadowman (played by Jacques Champreux, grandson of FANTOMAS director Louis Feuillade), leads his zombie army against the ancient and nasty Society of the Knights Templar, in a battle for spectacular treasure. With Gert Frobe (James Bond’s "Goldfinger") and Gayle Hunnicutt. Beginning at 8:00 PM the Cinematheque presents its version of dinner theater with a FABULOUS FRANJU FEAST catered by Classic Cuisine. Dinner is $6 per person and can be purchased in addition to the price of admission to either the 7:15 pm or 9:30 pm screenings. Following at 9:30 PM is a screening of a Rare 35mm print of THE SINS OF FATHER MOURET (LA FAUTE DE L’ABBE MOURET, 1970, 94 min.), an adaptation of Emile Zola’s novel. This fable about the impossible love between a young priest and a radiant, almost mythical girl, is set against the lush splendors of the gardens of Le Paradou. More than one critic compared the film to the poetry of William Blake, an intense marriage of religious symbolism and earthly passion. With Gillian Hills and Francis Huster Plus, LA PREMIERE NUIT (1958, 20 min.), in which a young boy descends into the Paris Metro, which is transformed by Franju into a mysterious world of shadows and monstrous engines.

A complete calendar/flyer listing of these films has been mailed to you.

BLACK & WHITE PHOTOS AND PRESS KITS

AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST

 

Admission for the general public is $7 and $4 for American Cinematheque Members. The Saturday, May 31st Fabulous Franju Feast is $6 in addition to the admission price for the screening. Separate admission for each screening.

 

PRESS SCREENINGS

DATES FOR ADVANCE THEATRICAL PRESS SCREENINGS ARE NOT CURRENTLY AVAILABLE. PLEASE CALL IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO BE NOTIFIED OF DATES & TIMES.

 

PRESS PASSES ARE NOT LIKELY TO BE AVAILABLE DURING THE FESTIVAL AS MOST SCREENINGS WILL BE SOLD OUT. IT IS RECOMMENDED THAT YOU TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE ADVANCE PRESS SCREENINGS.

 

 

ADVANCE PRESS SCREENINGS ARE AVAILABLE ON VIDEO TAPE AT THE OFFICES OF THE AMERICAN CINEMATHEQUE. CALL 213.466.3456 ext. 115 or 116 TO SCHEDULE SCREENINGS. ATTACHED IS A LIST OF FILMS AVAILABLE:

EYES WITHOUT A FACE

Please note that tickets to our programs can be purchased through THEATIX (213) 466-1767. Our number (213) 466-FILM should be listed for further information only!

Established in 1984, the American Cinematheque, is a non-profit, viewer-supported film exhibition and cultural organization dedicated to the celebration of the Moving Picture in all its forms. The Cinematheque presents weekly film and video programming which ranges from the classics and world cinemas to the outer frontiers of the art form at the Raleigh Studios Charlie Chaplin Theater and other Los Angeles venues. Exhibition of rare works, special prints within our

series, etc., combined with fascinating post-screening discussions with the filmmakers who created the work, are a Cinematheque tradition that keep audiences coming back for once-in-a-lifetime cinema experiences.

The American Cinematheque is currently renovating the historic Egyptian Theater on Hollywood Boulevard, which, when open in 1998, will become the American Cinematheque's permanent home and offer daily, year-round programming.

For information about this film program call 213/466-FILM. THE PROGRAM IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE WITHOUT NOTICE.

 

American Cinematheque

Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, 7000 Hollywood Boulevard., 3rd Floor, Hollywood, CA 90028

(tel) 213.461.9737 u (fax) 213.461.9737

Now on the web!!! http://www.americancinematheque.com

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