Young French Cinema

June 6 through July 2

From June 6 through July 2, the Gene Siskel Film Center, in partnership with UniFrance Films and the Cultural Services of the French Embassy, presents Young French Cinema, a series of eight films showcasing an exciting new generation of French filmmakers. All films in the series are Chicago premieres. On June 26 and 27, we host Sophie Letourneur, director/star of MACARONI AND CHEESE, who will appear for a Movie Club event on June 26, and for audience discussion on June 27.

The cover of the April 2013 issue of the fabled French film journal Cahiers du cinéma featured a brick wall with the graffiti-like scrawl YOUNG FRENCH CINÉASTES ARE NOT DEAD! Inside were a series of articles and personal statements proclaiming the arrival of a distinctive new generation of French filmmakers, led by such talents as Sébastian Betbeder (whose 2 AUTUMNS, 3 WINTERS premiered at the Film Center last year), Guillaume Brac, Djinn Carrénard, Yann Gonzalez, Antonin Peretjatko, Thomas Salvador, Justine Triet, and Rebecca Zlotowski.

No other national cinema has highlighted youth so centrally and consistently. The tradition dates back to the time of the French New Wave, when Francois Truffaut’s 1959 debut THE 400 BLOWS focused attention on a celebrated movement that saw 97 new directors make their first films within a period of three years.

New directors and first films have continued to hold a prominent place in French cinema. They have been sustained by the support of such state-sponsored institutions as UniFrance, which promotes French cinema abroad, and the Centre National de la Cinématographie (CNC), which specifically earmarks funds for emerging filmmakers, with a mandate to favor films that are “independent” and “audacious.” Unlike its American counterpart, the French equivalent of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences awards a César for Best First Film. Typically, 35-40% of the yearly total of French film productions are made by first-timers. As Tim Palmer writes in his book Brutal Intimacy: Analyzing Contemporary French Cinema, “This systematic emphasis upon young cinema makes France unique.”

The specific label “Young French Cinema” (or JCF - “jeune cinéma français”) was first applied to the concentration of directors (Assayas, Beauvois, Desplechin, Kahn, Kassovitz, Lvovsky, Vincent, et al. ) that came to prominence in the early 1990s. Many of those have now become the elder statespersons of French cinema, and, in a process especially encouraged by the French system, they have now been succeeded by a *new* new generation.

This youngest iteration of Young French Cinema carries on some of the hallmarks of their New Wave and JCF predecessors, such as cinephilia, stylistic heterogeneity, and a strong emphasis on the director as auteur. The influx of new women directors, which gained ground in the 1990s, has become even more pronounced; the fact that five out of the eight films in this series were directed by women is indicative of that trend.

Another hallmark of this diverse new generation is a general resistance to classification, whether political, stylistic, or generic. Is TONNERRE a romance or a thriller? GRAND CENTRAL lushly romantic or clinically factual? AGE OF PANIC cinéma-vérité, comedy, or domestic drama? Are the radical sentiments of the heroine in THE RENDEZ-VOUS OF DÉJÀ VU endorsed or satirized? One might call it “le cinéma-caméléon” - a color-changing, shape-shifting cinema that offers spectators the pleasures and challenges of fluctuation and unpredictability.

— Martin Rubin

“Young French Cinema” is a program of UniFrance Films and the Cultural Services of the French Embassy. Special thanks to Aude Hespert and Adeline Monzier of UniFrance Films; and Denis Quenelle and Laurence Geannopulos of the Cultural Service at the Consulate General of France in Chicago.

Buy a ticket at our regular prices for the first “Young French Cinema” film on any Saturday in June, and get a ticket for the second “Young French Cinema” film that day at the discounted rate with proof of your original purchase: General Admission $7; Students $5; Members $4. This discount rate applies to the second feature only. Discount available in person at the box office only.


Chicago premiere!


2013, Guillaume Brac, France, 102 min.
With Vincent Macaigne, Solène Rigot


  • Sat, Jun 6th 4:45pm
  • Wed, Jun 10th 6:00pm

Chicago premiere!


Les grandes ondes (à l'ouest)

2013, Lionel Baier France/Switzerland/Portugal, 85 min.
With Valérie Donzelli, Michel Vuillermoz


  • Sat, Jun 6th 3:00pm
  • Thu, Jun 11th 6:00pm

Chicago premiere!

Age of Panic

La bataille de Solférino

2013, Justine Triet, France, 94 min.
With Laetitia Dosch, Vincent Macaigne.


  • Sat, Jun 13th 3:00pm
  • Wed, Jun 17th 8:30pm

Chicago premiere!

The Rendez-vous of Déjà Vu

La fille du 14 juillet

2013, Antonin Peretjatko, France, 88 min.
With Vimala Pons, Vincent Macaigne.


  • Sat, Jun 13th 5:00pm
  • Thu, Jun 18th 6:00pm

Chicago premiere!

Miss and the Doctors

Tirez la langue, mademoiselle

2013, Axelle Ropert, France, 102 min.
With Cédric Kahn, Louise Bourgoin


  • Sat, Jun 20th 3:00pm
  • Mon, Jun 22nd 6:00pm

Chicago premiere!

Grand Central

2013, Rebecca Zlotowski, France/Austria, 94 min.
With Tahar Rahim, Léa Seydoux


  • Sat, Jun 20th 5:00pm
  • Wed, Jun 24th 6:00pm

Chicago premiere!

Macaroni and Cheese

Les coquillettes

2012, Sophie Letourneur, France, 75 min.
With Sophie Letourneur, Camille Genaud


  • Fri, Jun 26th 6:00pm
  • Sat, Jun 27th 5:00pm

Chicago premiere!

Domestic Life

La vie domestique

2013, Isabelle Czajka, France, 94 min.
With Emmanuelle Devos, Julie Ferrer


  • Sat, Jun 27th 3:00pm
  • Thu, Jul 2nd 6:00pm