Tribute to Bruno Dumont
France , 2006, 35 mm, Colour, 91, French
Cast: Adélaï de Leroux, Samuel Boidin, Henri Cretel, Jean-Marie Bruveart, David Poulain, Patrice Venant, David Legay, Inge Decaesteker
As usual, Dumont uses nonprofessional actors to tell the story of a large farmboy in Flanders who makes love regularly with the local girl he has known since childhood. Along with several other young men from the area, he is drafted and taken to a war zone in a desert fighting middle or near easterners. While he is away, the young woman takes a lover, becomes pregnant, goes insane, and has an abortion. Meanwhile he participates in a gang rape and leaves a comrade to die. He returns, they have sex, and she forgives him after he admits what he did. The drama is in the everyday, though it doesn’t prevent him from taking a swipe at what our military is doing today.
France, 2009, 35 mm, Colour, 105, French
Cast: Julie Sokolowski, Karl Sarafidis, Yassine Salime, David Dewaele
Dumont’s films exemplify the cliché “less is more.” Their meaning stems from their spare but gorgeous surface and tight narrative structure. HADEWIJCH is about a devout Catholic girl from a wealthy Parisian milieu who gets tossed out of a convent once her love for Christ crosses the line intoself-love. She has tried in vain to create a family of two. Back out in the world. Dumont imbues scenes of nature with transcendental beauty--she tests various ways of attaining union with her God. Dumont lingers on her scenes of self-questioning and religious anguish, but takes the elliptical route with only short shots of her brief foray into terrorism. After all, it is merely a stage in her passage toward a state of grace.
France , 1999, 35 mm, Colour, 148, French, English
Cast: Emmanuel Schotté, Séverine Caneele, Philippe Tullier, Ghislain Ghesquére, Ginette Allegre, Daniel Leroux, Arnaud Brejon de la Lavergnee
The central character of HUMANITY is a sympathetic, if rather incompetent, policeman in a dreary town. An 11-year-old girl has been murdered, and the cop, while looking for clues, exudes an unusual empathy. He goes around with the attractive boyfriend of the young woman for whom he has unrequited desire. Dumont captures their milieu with long shots as well as close-ups, and refuses to move his camera away from such natural acts as lovemaking. For this, his second feature, the filmmaker won the Grand Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival.
LA VIE DE JÉSUS / THE LIFE OF JESUS
France , 1997, 35 mm, Colour, 96, French, Arabic
Cast: David Douche, Marjorie Cottreel, Kader Chaatouf, Sébastien Delbaere, Samuel Boidin, Steve Smagghe, Sébastien Bailleul, Geneviève Cottreel
For his first feature, Dumont studied the ennui endemic in a provincial northern French town. The central character, Freddy—you know he’s an everyman from the title of the film is a 20-year-old epileptic who lives with his mother and spends his time biking around with his buddies. There is so little to do that the tension between him and a young Arab man over Freddy’s girlfriend becomes almost volcanic. That the filmmaker takes a simpleton like Freddy, and has him played by a nonprofessional, and finds drama in the quotidian of his life is a key to understanding Dumont’s sometimes misunderstood view of the human condition: We are all worthwhile.
France, Germany, USA , 2003, 35 mm, Colour, 119, French, English
Cast: Katia Golubeva, David Wissak
Dumont’s only foray into an English-language film, TWENTYNINE PALMS follows a sexy, and highly sexual, young couple traveling through the California desert. In truth, it is only partially in English: the female speaks mainly French. Much of it is improvised. As in most of Dumont’s films, there are few dramatic highpoints—the pair argues and buys food, nothing extraordinary—between trysts. The climax, however, is strong: A humiliating act changes the course of their relationship, as it seals the connection between sex and violence.
FRANCESCO, GIULLARE DI DIO / THE FLOWERS OF ST. FRANCIS
Italy, 1950, 35 mm, Black & White, 83, Italian
Director: Roberto Rossellini
Screenplay: Federico Fellini, Father Antonio Lisandrini, Father Félix Morlión, Roberto Rossellini
Cast: Gianfranco Bellini, Aldo Fabrizi, Peparuolo, Fra' Severino Pisacane, Roberto Sorrentino, Brother Nazario Gerardi, Arabella Lemaitre
Dumont says that this classic by Rossellini was an influence on Hadewijch, and explains that in French, the word for spiritual is also used for humor. In lighthearted fashion, Rossellini constructs chapters in the lives of St. Francis of Assissi and his committed, if somewhat naïve and unworldly, brothers. An acolyte named Ginepro provides comic relief. These are lovable Christians, not conquering soldiers or dogmatists, but men who sincerely attempt to do good and live simply and altruistically, in a state of self-denial. The print shown is from a recent restoration. This screening is dedicated to the memory of film critic and Rossellini scholar Peter Brunette.