In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Olivier Assayas brought the liminal crises of adolescence and young adulthood vividly to life in such films as Paris Awakens (1991) and Cold Water (1994). Since then, the French writer-director has grown ever more virtuosic in his stylistic and thematic experimentation, evidenced by Irma Vep (1996), his love poem to genre moviemaking; Les Destinées (2000), an epic period drama about the deaths of a marriage and a Limoges porcelain factory; and Demonlover (2002), recently released in commercial theaters by Palm Pictures, about industrial espionage and vampiric possession.
A former editor of the French film magazine Cahiers du Cinéma, Assayas is one of contemporary cinema’s most impassioned and discerning critics, bringing fresh perspectives to the masters who have profoundly influenced him. In his own films he combines the ethical humanism of Jean Renoir with the romantic sentiment of Frank Borzage; the formal rigors of Robert Bresson and Andrei Tarkovsky with the kinetic electricity of Kenneth Anger; and the interiority of Ingmar Bergman and Hou Hsiao-hsien with the improvisatory daring of Andy Warhol and John Cassavetes. Assayas introduces this nine-film exhibition with a screening of Les Destinées on September 18.
Organized by Joshua Siegel, Assistant Curator, Department of Film and Media. Special thanks to Ryan Werner, Head of Theatrical Distribution, Palm Pictures.