36 Vues du Pic Saint Loup / Around a Small Mountain

The Tournées Festival of New French Cinema
Friday, January 7, 2011 - 7:00pm

Master filmmaker Jacques Rivette, now 82, returns to one of his favorite themes—life versus performance—in this elegant work, which begins with a chance encounter on a mountain road. After a 15-year absence, Kate returns to the town where her late father ran a small circus. When her car breaks down, she’s assisted by helpful stranger Vittorio; Kate thanks him by inviting him to attend a circus show. This is no Ringling Bros. extravaganza: Rivette’s circus takes place in a tiny, bare-bones setting, with clowns who haven’t quite mastered their acts. But Vittorio is immediately enchanted, following the troupe as they move from hamlet to hamlet. He’s also equally fascinated with the melancholy Kate and begins to slowly unravel the reasons why she stayed away for so long. The source of Kate’s sadness is presented in a series of monologues about secret histories and buried truths, flawlessly performed by Jane Birkin. Though it deals with pain and despair, Around a Small Mountain is undeniably a buoyant film, filled with a sense of hope and wonder. As Vittorio reminds us, the circus is a place “where everything is possible.”

(Jacques Rivette, 2009, 84 min, 35mm)

The Tournées Festival of New French Cinema
January 7-February 4, 2011
For the third winter, the FSC and France Chicago Center partner to bring a series of contemporary French films to campus. This year, spend five Friday evenings with the films of innovative directors whose work represents the best of French cinema today.

Support for the Tournées Festival is provided by The French Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, The Centre National de la Cinématographie, The Florence Gould Foundation, The Grand Marnier Foundation and highbrow entertainment.