This shorts program presents five films produced by visionary cinephile and producer Pierre Braunberger. Recognizing that he was not suited for directing, he provided creative and financial support to New Wave filmmakers. Some of these filmmakers would become iconoclasts of French cinema such as Jean-Luc Godard and Jacques Rivette, while others such as Melvin Van Peebles would become an iconoclast of Black American cinema. Featuring schemes, failed romantic trysts, modern life tribulations, and cameos from other New Wave filmmakers, these films provide a glimpse into the narrative and aesthetic fascinations of the French New Wave. This program is curated from Icarus Films’ 2023 home video release of New Wave short films.
Fool’s Mate (1956) directed by Jacques Rivette (Céline and Julie Go Boating) is a tightly paced drama about a woman who hatches a foolproof plan to keep a fur coat gifted by her lover and avoid the suspicions of her husband. Fool’s Mate features cameos from New Wave directors Jean-Luc Godard, François Truffaut, and Claude Chabrol.
All the Boys Are Called Patrick (1957) directed by Jean-Luc Godard (Breathless) and written by Éric Rohmer (My Night at Maud’s) is a comedic progenitor of both Godard’s and Rohmer’s fascination with relationships between men and women. Two female roommates are separately accosted by a pick-up artist named Patrick, who manages to get both to agree to a date — until a poorly timed kiss ruins his plans.
The Overworked (1958) directed by Jacques Doniol-Valcroze (co-founder of Cahiers du cinéma) and co-written by François Truffaut (The 400 Blows) is a morality tale about the dangers of adhering to the breakneck pace of urban life. A young woman moves from rural France to Paris to be with her fiancé. She moves in with her sister and brother-in-law and quickly falls in love with Parisian nightlife and… Parisian men. Meanwhile, at home, her brother-in-law is on the brink of collapse from overwork.
500 Francs (1961) directed by Melvin Van Peebles (The Story of a Three Day Pass) is a dialogue-free portrait of obsession, greed, and violence accompanied by a syncopated, percussive soundtrack. In a squalid neighborhood, a boy notices a 500-franc note in a sewer. The boy tries and fails to retrieve the bank note. When a poor, young man tries his luck, the boy is struck by jealousy and unleashes ineffective attacks on the man. Eventually, the boy makes one last odd attempt at retrieving the precious 500-francs.
The Botanical Avatar of Mademoiselle Flora (1965) is directed by Jeanne Barbillon, one of the few female New Wave filmmakers, but unlike Agnès Varda, Barbillon did not have a prolific film career. This short film stands out as one of the few New Wave films about a woman's inner life directed by a woman. In a small French town, a woman becomes disillusioned with her male lover, and people, and discovers a deep fondness for plants.