Eighth Annual Festival of New French Cinema
Dec. 3-12

The Eighth Annual Festival of New French Cinema is the only film festival in the U.S. dedicated exclusively to the work of emerging French filmmakers.

It’s a rare opportunity to discover new talent in the world of French cinema, and to catch the work of young filmmakers at the start of their careers.

Shown above: (l.) "Process"; (r.) "Hypnotized and Hysterical (Hairdresser Wanted)"

Films this year include: “It's Easier for a Camel...“ as the opening night screening, the premiere of psychological drama, “Illumination,” frothy musical melodrama, “Hypnotized and Hysterical (Hairdresser Wanted),” and the closing night film, “Monsieur N.,” an intriguing film which sets about trying to piece together the last years of Napoleon Bonaparte in exile.


Dec. 4-5, 1pm
Three small Parisian siblings are left to fend for themselves, in this
affectionate tribute to the innate resourcefulness of the very young.

Whether they're shoplifting food, sneaking into movies, or lying to school counselors, the children's bond is solid, and their native cunning proves both amusing and oddly affecting.

This rare attempt to portray children's activities without sentimentality is a real discovery; the film marks an auspicious debut for its writer/director/editor, Isild le Besco.

Shown above: (l.)"Eager Bodies"; (r.) "Capone"

Dec. 5, 6:30pm
“Process” is the story of a woman, L'Actrice (Béatrice Dalle, “Betty Blue”), who makes a pragmatic decision to die. Told in twenty-nine single takes and with nearly no dialogue, the film is a record of erasure. In abstract takes, the audience shares this woman's journey, to an end she has settled on her own terms. Directed by C.S. Leigh. This film is not rated. U.S premiere.

Dec. 5, 8:30pm
Veteran scamster Réno cons straightlaced cabbie Alex into driving him and the race horse he needs to sell, from Paris to the arctic circle of Finland. One step ahead of a pair of vicious hoods, the two polar opposites journey towards the land of the midnight sun.

This French crime drama/road movie gradually reveals that there is a connection between the two men, despite their significant differences: one, an extrovert obsessed by sex and money; the other, an introvert coping with a dark secret. A friendship emerges during their mutual adventure; the atmosphere evokes the world of Aki Kaurismäki and Jim Jarmusch. Directed by Jean-Marc Brondolo.

Dec. 6, 7pm
“Filles Perdues, Cheveux Gras/Hypnotized and Hysterical (Hairdresser Wanted)”

Musical melodrama film built around the interlocking stories of three young women with different backgrounds who meet and learn to appreciate each other.

“Hypnotized and Hysterical (Hairdresser Wanted)” starts offbeat, with an oddball female cast. It adds animated cartoons, a few song-and-dance numbers, then quickly zooms into the stratosphere of quirk. Directed by Claude Duty. Chicago premiere.

Dec. 7, 6:30pm

Ildutt (Clet Beyer), a psychologically disturbed young man, decides to ‘cure’ himself when he catches the eye of Christina (Mélanie Leray), his grandmother's nurse. Ready to do anything to make the girl like him, Ildutt throws himself into a confused and desperate search for normality.

“Illumination” chronicles the strange odyssey of a man who walks an ephemeral line between sanity and love, which puts him in conflict with reality. Directed by Pascale Breton. World premiere.

Shown above: (l.) "Illumination"; (r.) "Monsieur N."

Dec. 7, 9pm
"Eager Bodies"
Charlotte and Paul are in love, and happy. Then Charlotte is diagnosed with cancer, and her cousin Ninon is drawn into in their lives. A bond develops among the three, complicated by Charlotte's fear, then by her jealousy. Her instability only fuels the mutual attraction that Paul and Ninon feel for each other.

Starkly realistic, anything but sentimental, and emotionally brutal in unexpected ways, “Eager Bodies” is a bold feature debut for director-writer Xavier Giannoli. Less concerned with plot than the intricacies of mood and raw emotion, “Eager Bodies” resonates with a deep compassion for three people trapped in a dilemma beyond their control. Directed by Xavier Giannoli. Trivia note: Actress Laura Smet is the daughter of actress Nathalie Baye and rock star Johnny Hallyday.

Dec. 9, 9pm
“Monsieur N.”
After his defeat at Waterloo, Napoleon Bonaparte was exiled to the island of St. Helena where he died suddenly a few years later -- or did he?

Using a combination of historical record and creative speculation, director Antonine de Caunes creates an engaging film about what might have happened during the last years of the emperor’s life in exile.

Find it: Facets Cinémathèque
1517 W. Fullerton Ave.
Chicago, Illinois
Get info: (773) 281-4114

Find film festivals in other cities, in the DEC/JAN issue of "Arte Six."

RELATED EXTRAS: Napoleon's Wallpaper

The greatest mystery surrounding Napoleon's years in exile centers on his death; he is assumed to have died of stomach cancer, but another theory is that he was slowly poisoned.

The poisoning theorists argue that a high concentration of arsenic was found
in preserved locks of Napoleon's hair from that time, and that the Count de Montholon was the most likely culprit, slipping arsenic into Napoleon's wine during his stay at St. Helena.

More: http://www.napoleon-series.org/research/napoleon/c_arsenic.html