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Alain Resnais

Feb 25 — Mar 20, 2011

Made possible with generous support by the Cultural Services of the French Embassy, New York

Film is the ideal medium for Alain Resnais, the French director whose obsessions include the workings of time, memory, history, desire, and imagination. In cinema, after all, everything exists in the present tense—including the past and the future. The filmmaker can depict dreams, fantasies, and thoughts in concrete physical terms, breaking the boundary between the imaginary and the real.

Resnais’s films often explore connections between historical and personal events, placing romantic dramas against the backdrop of war and political turmoil. His intellectual concerns are capacious, ranging from art history to literature to philosophy to science. Yet as intellectually rigorous as Resnais’s films are, they are also both deeply human and deeply playful. Profoundly interested in theatricality, and deeply attuned to psychological nuance, Resnais is one of cinema’s great directors of actors. And as evidenced by the joyful whimsicality of his latest film, Wild Grass, the seriousness of Resnais’s films goes hand in hand with a wondrous sense of enchantment, of the idea of cinema—and life—as a kind of game.

Although Resnais may be most famous for his landmark films Hiroshima, Mon Amour and Last Year at Marienbad, which redefined the possibilities of cinema, his career now spans sixty years, and he has continuously found new ways to explore his lifelong obsessions. This is the most complete retrospective of Resnais’s films ever presented in New York, with all of his feature films, and a number of rarely shown shorts. Most films will be shown in imported 35mm prints that are not in distribution in the United States.