Gérard Blain

July 27 to August 8

Touted early on as a French James Dean after performances for directors Julien Duvivier, François Truffaut, and Claude Chabrol, actor Gérard Blain soon became disenchanted with the routine thrillers, dramas and romances he was being offered—so he decided to make his own cinema, his own way. Inspired by the transcendental trio of Ozu, Dreyer, and Bresson, Blain made his debut as a director with Les Amis, which won the Golden Leopard at the Locarno Film Festival in 1971. From here Blain developed a sober, precise, minimalist approach, and a body of work situated as a protest against a world that had lost its way. “We live in an infected age. There is no faith, no morality, no higher sentiments,” Blain proclaimed. “Pleasure, sex, everything that appeals to our lowest instincts, rules. I have always been obsessed by this decline in values, and fundamentally, all my films are about the search to find them again.” Famously obstinate as an actor, Blain was no less so as a director, and his refusal to compromise often made it difficult for him to get his films made. Nevertheless, in the eight theatrical features he directed over the next three decades, Blain earned Mia Hansen-Løve’s description of him as “the real inheritor of Bresson” by creating an intense, remarkably cohesive cinematic world, one that hewed to a strict moral clarity in contrast to the corrupt, capitalistic society that he decried.

Series organized by and program notes adapted from Brad Deane, TIFF Cinematheque (Toronto). With the support of the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the U.S.

Previously Screened