April 20-23, 2017
Istanbul Modern Cinema, presents My First Feature, a program focusing on the debut features filmed by current directors at the start of their careers. The selection features four films by the unusual director of French cinema Claire Simon who has been working across different genres ranging from documentary to fiction for twenty years and has always tried to capture the essence of reality. The program includes her first feature-length documentary The Patients (Les Patients, 1990), in which she began to follow her father’s best friend Dr. Bouvier a few months before his retirement and shows the compassion with which this experienced doctor approaches his patients. Also featured in the program are her films God’s Offices (Les Bureaux de Dieu, 2008) and Gare du Nord (2013). Another film to be screened in My First Feature is Private Madness (Folie Privée, 2004) by Belgian director Joachim Lafosse which was nominated for the Golden Leopard at the Locarno film festival in 2004. A conversation with Claire Simon is also included in the program.
On April 20 th, Claire Simon will be present after the screening of God’s Offices for a conversation on her cinema at 17.15.
On April 23rd, the producer of Private Madness, Eric Van Zuylen will be present after the screening of the film for a conversation on Joachim Lafosse’s cinema at 17.45.
THE PATIENTS (LES PATIENTS), 1990
France| BluRay, Black & White, 75’ |French
Director: Claire Simon
Cast: Jean-Marie Bouvier
This documentary, which is Claire Simon’s debut film, is about a retiring doctor’s exemplary relationship with his patients. With his thick-rimmed glasses, dark suit, and congenial personality, Dr. Bouvier, who works in a small provincial town, is like a character from a novel. His devotion to his work, the love and compassion he shows his patients, and his non-judgmental attitude regardless of who he is dealing with virtually rub off on the director’s film. Just like the way Bouvier approaches his patients, Claire Simon too approaches the subject matter with curiosity, love, and a sense of humor. The documentary is notable above all for the way it approaches the intricate nature of humanity.
A FOREIGN BODY (SINON, OUI ), 1997
France| 35mm, Color, 120’ |French
Cast: Catherine Mendez, Emmanuel Clarke, Lou Castel
Magali unintentionally leads her husband to believe she is pregnant. Her husband wants her to have an abortion but she refuses. Over time, as this lie revives their rather unstable marriage and leads her ill father to take a stronger hold on life, Magali herself starts to believe that the lie is real. Try as she may, she cannot bring herself to tell the truth. Claire Simon’s first feature-length film, The Foreign Body puts a finger on a century-old debate by bringing to the screen the disparity between how humans perceive themselves and how they are perceived by others.
GOD’S OFFICES (LES BUREAUX DE DIEU), 2008
France, Belgium| DCP, Color, 122’ |French
Director: Claire Simon
Cast: Anne Alvaro, Nathalie Baye, Michel Boujenah
Showing conversations between counselors and women of all ages, ethnicities, and religions who come together in a busy family-planning center in Paris, the film harks back to Claire Simon’s documentary The Patients, in which she focused on the relationship between doctor and patient. Teenagers who can’t speak to their families about sex, a girl whose boyfriend wants proof that she’s a virgin, a woman who’s afraid her husband will find out about her extramarital affair, and counselors who listen to them and then consult with one another on the balcony... Stars and non-professional actresses come together in this film, in which the line between documentary and fiction is seamlessly blurred.
GARE DU NORD, 2013
France, Canada| HDD, Color, 119’ |French, English, Italian
Director: Claire Simon
Cast: Nicole Garcia, Reda Kateb, François Damiens
Gare du Nordfocuses on passengers whose paths intersect as they spend their lives among the cafés, tunnels, and terminals of the titular station in what has become the heart of northern Paris. The film starts off as a love story that burgeons between two strangers and successfully depicts the constantly changing social and ethnic face of modern France.
PRIVATE MADNESS (FOLIE PRIVÉE), 2004
France, Belgium| BluRay, Color, 67’ |French
Director: Joachim Lafosse
Cast: Mathias Wertz, Vincent Cahay, Kris Cuppens
A psychologically unstable man who is still in love with his soon-to-be-ex-wife and refuses to leave the house despite having promised he would move out changes the destiny of everyone around him within twenty-four hours. Belgian director Joachim Lafosse’s feature debut is a tragic family drama inspired by Euripides’ Medea.
BEYOND WORDS, THE CINEMA OF JOACHIM LAFOSSE (AU DELA DES MOTS DE JOACHIM LAFOSSE ), 2013
Belgium| BluRay, Color, 62’ |French
Director: Luc Jabon
In this documentary, Luc Jabon brings on screen the directing career of Joachim Lafosse who is in his forties and was his scriptwriting student at the famous IAD cinema school. All Lafosse really wants is to tell human stories and all his films focus on the weaknesses of human beings, their violent tendencies, fragility, and also their desire to gather together and live in peace. In this documentary, we witness how Lafosse (who directed seven feature films in fifteen years) constantly improves himself.