Friday, September 16, 2016

At FIAF's CinéSalon in September and October: BEYOND THE INGENUE as girls become women


What looks like yet another in FIAF's continuing stream of extremely interesting and well-curated (by Charlotte Garson and Delphine Selles-Alvarez) CinéSalon series of terrific Tuesday afternoon-and-evening movie sessions -- Beyond the Ingenue -- made its debut this past Tuesday with a film by and starring one of France's current cinema treasures, Noémie Lvovsky (most recently stealing the show in Summertime). Next Tuesday (September 20) will see the Pialat classic, À nos amours, then Céline Sciamma's Water Lilies on September 27, followed by that ever-watchable classic, Rohmer's Pauline at the Beach on October 4. You can view the entire series schedule by clicking here.

What has piqued TrustMovies' interest most, however, is the double bill of short films that has its U.S. Premiere on Tuesday, October 11 at 4 and 7:30pm: HARAMISTE (which I believe translates roughly as "forbidden to Muslims"), a shockingly delightful 40 minutes directed and co-written by Antoine Desrosières (shown at left), which will be shown in tandem with the 1994 made-for-French television film U.S. GO HOME, directed and co-written by Claire Denis. Both movies tackle the sexuality of adolescent girls on the verge of womanhood, but the twenty-year difference between the times in which these films were made speaks volumes, both about what is currently "permissible" -- even in France, forever the amour capital of the western world -- and how France (and everywhere else) has changed due to the results of immigration.

Further, the fact that Haramiste is inhabited by two young Muslim girls -- older and younger sisters -- makes what happens here just about jaw-dropping for those of us trained to think of Muslim females who cover their heads as somehow more "religious" and/or demure and sedate than their western counterparts.

And yet because these girls have lived in France for maybe their entire (or close to that) lives, aside from covering their heads, they seem, well, quite French. And quite teenage. And quite sexual. And quite verbal. The film's first scene takes place at a bus stop where the two are awaiting their mother, as they are accosted by a group of boys. They hold their own, while seeming both "interested" and properly staid and retiring. Yet, as soon as the boys leave and the girls open up to each other, all bets are off.

The bus stop scene, however, is nothing compare to what we get in the second scene, which takes place in the girls' bedroom. Yikes. This is so revelatory, and so funny, and so disarming, and so, well, scandalous, that I am somewhat surprised that a fatwa has not been taken out against the filmmaker and his cast. (Golly, maybe one has been.) In any case, Haramiste should turn topsy-turvy a lot of your pre-conceived notions and (hopefully) make you laugh your head off in the process.

Desrosières' cast -- Souad Archane (above, left) and Inas Chanti (above, right) --  could hardly be better (both girls contributed to the dialog and screenplay, as did Anne-Sophie Nanki), and the technical aspects of the film are just fine. But it's the very idea of the film, as well as its execution, that seals the deal.

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Ms Denis' movie, U.S. GO HOME (the filmmaker is shown above), though now twenty-two years old, is actually set back some fifty years -- during a time when the Vietnam War raged and the French (who had their own previous bad experience over there) were having none of it. Here, two young girls of the day (played by Alice Houribelow, left, and Jessica Tharaud, right) engage in their own sexual awakenings and experiences, helped (more like hindered) along by one of them's brother (a young and hugely charismatic Grégoire Colin, shown two photos below, who would go on, five years later, to star in Denis' Beau Travail).

Budding sexuality competes with political, social and economic concerns, all of this very nicely enmeshed by Denis. As is her wont, the filmmaker offers up behavior above all, and we watch, fascinated, as these two girls -- friends, but probably not for much longer -- pursue their own course with men, women, and each other.

Along the way, we encounter an American soldier (played by Vincent Gallo, below, right, with Ms Houri) who will appear again later, and quietly, rather sweetly (for Mr. Gallo) connect with Ms Houri's character. In one sense, not much happens here; in another, everything does. The night turns into morning and a new day in so many ways.

Made for French television in 1994, U.S. Go Home has, over the years, assumed a place in the canon (television-wise, at least) -- and rightfully so. Full of life and the fabulous music of the time, the 68-minute movie shows off these fine actors, at least three of whom would move on to other challenging and effective performances (Ms Tharaud appears to have stopped acting after Denis' Nenette and Boni, in which she, Houri and Colin also starred.)

I would call this double bill a must-see, and since it most likely will not be opening in theaters anytime soon, I suggest, for those of you in the tri-state area, heading for FIAF on Tuesday, October 11 -- and getting your tickets soon. Click here to see the entire Beyond the Ingenue series, and here to get tickets for the Denis/Desrosière double bill.

3 comments:

Garson said...

Thank you very much for this very prompt yet thoughtfull and truly appreciative review of the little series D. Selles and myself have put together at FIAF. Just to let you know that the title is a word coined by one of the sisters of the film, who accuses the other of proning "haram" practices (forbidden/illicit things). The suffix adds a comical ideological flavor to the rather banal guilt-trip she is giving to her sister. Best regards, Charlotte Garson

James van Maanen said...

Hi, Charlotte--
Thanks so much for your comment and explanation of that title word, which helps me appreciate this short film all the more. What a delight it is, and I hope that folk seeing it at FIAF will have some of their pre-conceptions toppled. Keep up the good work! I will hope to see more of your curation in the future.

Garson said...

Thank you, James! Nice to have discovered your blog (from paris).