André Téchiné

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André Téchiné
André Téchiné 2008.jpg
Born André Téchiné
(1943-03-13) 13 March 1943 (age 71)
Valence-d'Agen, Tarn-et-Garonne, France
Occupation Filmmaker
Years active 1966 - present
Awards Best Director Award (Cannes Film Festival)
1985 Rendez-vous

André Téchiné (born 13 March 1943) is a French screenwriter and film director. He has a long and distinguished career that places him among the best post-New Wave French film directors.

He belongs to a second generation of French film critics associated with Cahiers du cinéma who followed François Truffaut, Claude Chabrol, Jean-Luc Godard and others from criticism into film-making. Téchiné is noted for his elegant and emotionally charged films that often delve into the complexities of human condition and emotions.

One of the trademarks of his filmography is the lyrical examination of human relations in a sensitive but unsentimental way, as can be seen in his most acclaimed films: My Favorite Season (1993) and Wild Reeds (1994).

Life[edit]

André Téchiné was born on 13 March 1943 at Valence-d'Agen, a small town in the Midi-Pyrénées region, department of Tarn-et-Garonne, France.[1] His family, of Spanish ancestry, owned a small business making agricultural equipment.[1] He grew up in the south west French country side and in his adolescence acquired a passion for films. From 1952 to 1959 he went to a Catholic boarding school in Montauban.[1] He was allowed to leave the school only on Sunday afternoons when he would go to the cinema, although he often had to return before the screening ended. From 1959 he attended a secular state school, which exposed him to a different culture, with Marxist teachers, a cine club and a film magazine, La Plume et l'écran, to which he contributed.[1] "Films were my only opening to the world,"[2] Téchiné explained in an interview. "They were my only possibility of escaping my family environment and my boarding school. It was probably dangerous because, through movies, I learned how the world works and how human relations work. But it was magical, and I was determined to follow the thread of that magic."[2]

At nineteen he moved to Paris in order to look for a career in filmmaking.[1] He failed the entrance examination at France's most prominent film school,[1] but started to write reviews for the prestigious Cahiers du cinéma where he worked for four years (1964–1967).[1] His first article was about Truffaut’s The Soft Skin, published in July 1964.[1]

Téchiné's first filmmaking experience emerged from a theatrical milieu.[3] He went on to become assistant director for Marc'O in Les Idoles (1967), a film version of an experimental play.[3] This film was edited by Jean Eustache; Téchiné made an uncredited walk on appearance in Eustache's film La Maman et la putin (1972).[4] Téchiné was also assistant director to Jacques Rivette, (his editor at Cahiers du Cinema) on L'amour fou (1969).[5]

Téchiné is noted for his elegant and emotionally charged films that often delve into the complexities of human condition and emotions. An intimist flavor pervades his work. One of the trademarks of his filmography is the lyrical examination of human relations in a sensitive but unsentimental way. Influenced by Roland Barthes, Bertolt Brecht, Ingmar Bergman, William Faulkner and the cinematic French New Wave, the originality of Téchiné's films lies in his subtle exploration of sexuality and national identity, as he challenges expectations in his depictions of gay relations, the North African dimensions of contemporary French culture, and the center-periphery relationship between Paris and his native Southwest.[6] Shy and ascetic-looking, Téchiné does not opine on political issues and rarely appears on television.[2] Fear of flying prevents him from attending most film openings or festivals more than a train ride from his Paris apartment overlooking the Luxembourg Gardens.[2]

"I never know how each film will end," Téchiné explains. "When I'm filming, I shoot each scene as if it were a short film. It's only when I edit that I worry about the narrative. My objective is to tell a story, but that's the final thing I do."[2]

Film career[edit]

Paulina s'en va (1969)[edit]

André Téchiné made his debut as director with: Paulina s'en va (Paulina is Leaving) (1969) in which the title character drifts aimlessly, struggling to find a way out of her disenchantment and find her calling in life. Initially conceived as a short, the film was shot in two periods, over one week in 1967 and two weeks in 1969.[4] The film, shown at that year's Venice Film Festival,[4] disconcerted audiences and was not actually released until 1975. In the meantime, Téchiné experimented with references to different genres and auteurs while providing screenplays for other directors, including Liliane de Kermadec's Aloïse.

Souvenirs d'en France (1974)[edit]

After working in television and theater,[7] Téchiné first came to prominence with his second film: Souvenirs d'en France (French Provincial) (1974) a curious mix of black comedy, romantic drama and nostalgia with a distinctly Brechtian imprint. The film was inspired by Orson Welles’s The Magnificent Ambersons and filmed in the director's native village. It is a highly compressed history of a small-town family from early in the century through the Resistance and on to May 1968. Téchiné explored the relationship between the grand scope of life and more personal histories.[8] Notably, the film stars Jeanne Moreau; the director's work has since been distinguished by offering key roles to respected actresses.[8]

Barocco (1976)[edit]

Téchiné's demonstrated his flair for richly textured, atmospheric storytelling with his next film, the aptly titled thriller Barocco (1976), a crime drama, rooted in expressionist surrealism. A boxer who has accepted and then turned down a huge bribe from a politician to tell a lie that will influence an election is killed by a hired assassin. The boxer's girlfriend eventually falls in love with the killer while trying to remake him into the image of her slain lover. The film elicited critical plaudits for its elegant look.[8]

Les sœurs Brontë (1979)[edit]

Three years later, Téchiné took on biography with Les sœurs Brontë The Bronte Sisters (1979). A profile of the famous Brontë sisters, the film’s heavy, repressive mood evokes the harshness and injustice of the life that the Brontë sisters endured. The passion and color that is so vivid in their novels was absent from their daily existence, and the film’s appropriately gloomy cinematography – which uses dreary earth colors to emphasize the cold, remote feel – evokes this with great poignancy. The film features an all-star cast: Isabelle Adjani, Marie-France Pisier and Isabelle Huppert as Emily, Charlotte and Anne Brontë, with Pascal Gregory as their ill-fated brother Branwell.

Hôtel des Amériques (1981)[edit]

Hôtel des Amériques (1981), set in Biarritz, explores the strained relationship between a successful middle-aged woman and an unfulfilled and emotionally unbalanced man in a story of a hopelessly ill-matched love. This film marked a turning point in Téchiné’s career, anchoring his work from then on in a more realistic universe from the previous romantic one. For the first time Téchiné let his actors improvise, a practice he has continued ever since, adjusting his scripts to accommodate the new material. “From Hotel des Amériques onwards my films are no longer genre films,”[9] he said. “My inspiration is no longer drawn from the cinema”.[9] This film also started a long productive collaboration with Catherine Deneuve. "There are some directors who are more feminine than others, like Téchiné, like Truffaut. They are an exceptional gift to actresses," Deneuve said about their collaboration.

Rendez-vous (1985)[edit]

After making a television production: La Matiouette ou l'arrière-pays, (1983), Téchiné returned to critical attention with Rendez-vous (1985), a sexy noir melodrama replete with the seductive surface of the era.[8] In the film a would-be actress, Nina, fleeing her provincial home for Paris, enters a turbulent love relationship with a sadistic, self-destructive young actor, who caused the death of his former girlfriend. When the actor himself is killed in an accident, or possible suicide, his former mentor/director, and father of the dead girlfriend, determines to cast the inexperienced Nina as the female lead in 'Romeo and Juliet', a role his deceased daughter played. The film is ultimately a vehicle for exploring the violent intensity of certain emotional attachments and their ability to cause one's life to spin off in unexpected directions. By now a key director of the post-New Wave, this film earned Téchiné the Cannes Festival Best Direction Award while helping launch the career of Juliette Binoche.[8]

Le lieu du crime (1986)[edit]

Le lieu du crime (1986) (Scene of the Crime) begins with a shot right out of the opening of Great Expectations. In the rustic vicinity of a small provincial town, a young boy helps an escaped criminal. The boy (a highly troubled youth himself) disaffected by his parents' divorce, lives with his mother and grandparents while the father lives nearby. The escaped convict commits murder to save the boy from harm but gets involved with the mother. By the time the boy is to have his first communion, the mother--trapped in a humdrum existence--has fallen in love with the convict and wants to run away with him.

Les innocents (1987)[edit]

In his next film, Les Innocents (1987) a young woman, born and raised in Northern France, is visiting the Mediterranean city of Toulon for the first time. She is prompted by two events: the wedding of her sister, and the disappearance of her brother. He is a deaf-mute who supports himself as a pickpocket under the tutelage of a young Arab and an older bisexual married man with a weakness for young Arabs. The girl meets them and finds herself attracted to the young Arab and the older man's son, who is also bisexual like his father. She is soon torn between the two in a romantic and sexual dilemma that mirrors France's political turmoil regarding the nation's growing Arab population.

J'embrasse pas (1991)[edit]

J'embrasse pas (I don't kiss) (1991) is a bleak, melancholic portrait of a young man searching and failing to find meaning in his life. An idealistic seventeen-year-old youth leaves his home in the rural southwest of France, hoping to make a career as an actor in Paris. After an auspicious start in the French capital, he soon discovers that he has no talent as an actor, and soon loses both his job and his room. In the end, he has to hustle to make a living as a male prostitute. He falls in love with a young prostitute, but the relationship has terrible consequences for him.

My Favorite Season (1993)[edit]

My Favorite Season (Ma saison préférée) (1993) is a dark and somber story of middle-aged estranged siblings, a provincial lawyer (sister) and a skilled surgeon (brother). They have begun to come to terms with what they have become professionally and personally when their aging mother begins to decline after a stroke. Téchiné himself describes Ma Saison Préférée as a film "about individuality and the coldness of the modern world." It earned acclaim when it was screened in competition at the 1993 Cannes Film Festival.[10]

Wild Reeds (1994)[edit]

The following year, Téchiné had his greatest success to date with Wild Reeds (Les roseaux sauvages) (1994). The film was commissioned by French television as one of part of a series of eight films entitled Tous les garçons et les filles de leur âge, although it was shown first at cinemas. This is a bucolic tale of teenage self-discovery centered on the inner turmoil of four teenagers staying at a boarding school in Aquitaine in 1962, their political and sexual awakening with the effect of the Algerian War as backdrop. The director, inspired by his own adolescence, delivers a limpid and sensual work, bathed by the light of southwest France. Téchiné works with certain sets of themes including family bonds, homosexuality, and exile. Wild Reeds is his most autobiographical movie; like the teen-age Téchiné, the main character, François, attends an all-male boarding school.[2] While part of the story revolves around François's discovery that he is gay, Téchiné said his principal interest was to evoke how the Algerian war of independence was felt in a rural corner of France."If I hadn't been able to inject this, if I had only been making a film about adolescent coming of age, it wouldn't have interested me at all," he explained.[2]

Wild Reeds was a hit at the 1994 César award ceremony, winning four out of eight nominations (best film, best director, best script, and best newcomer for Élodie Bouchez).[11] It also won the Prix Delluc in 1994. This was Téchiné’s sixth film released in the USA (in 1995—following French Provincial (Souvenirs d'en France), Barocco, Hôtel des Amériques, Rendez-vous and Scene of the Crime) and his most autobiographical picture to date. Wild Reeds won the New York Film Critics Award and National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

Les voleurs (1996)[edit]

Further acclaim greeted the director in 1996 with Les voleurs (Thieves) (1996), an ambitious and complex crime drama. The film jumps through time and switches narrative perspectives in a Rashomon-style exploring family and amorous ties. It postulates a fatalistic world bound by family origins and intense romantic longings in which every character is trapped into becoming a thief of one kind or another, emotionally as well as existentially. This film earned Téchiné nominations for the César and Golden Palme at Cannes, as well as a host of other honors.

Alice et Martin (1998)[edit]

Téchiné followed this success with Alice et Martin (Alice and Martin) (1998), a haunting love story between two emotionally damaged outsiders that marked his reunion with Juliette Binoche.[8] As in his earlier film Les Voleurs, Téchiné told the story out of sequence.

Loin (2001)[edit]

Loin (Far) (2001) was shot on digital video. Employing natural light for the most part, it uses a slightly degraded video image to create a sense of collapse and unease. The film is set in Tangier and is told in three "movements", with the sections marked by chapters. The plot turns around three characters: a truck driver importing goods between Morocco and France tempted to cross the strait to Spain smuggling drugs; his young Arab friend desperate to go to Europe; and the driver’s Jewish ex-girlfriend who is hesitant about her future migration to Canada. During the three days they are together, fateful decisions must be made.

Strayed (2003)[edit]

After two less successful but still ravishing efforts, André Téchiné received acclaim with Strayed (Les égarés) (2003), an adaptation of the novel Le Garçon aux yeux gris, by Gilles Perrault. While Téchiné usually braids together several intersecting stories, this wartime drama traces a single linear tale with only four characters. In 1940, an attractive widow flees Nazi-occupied Paris for the South with her small daughter and teen-age son; they are soon joined by a mysterious young man. The foursome find refuge from the war in an abandoned house.

Changing Times (2004)[edit]

Changing Times (Les temps qui changent) (2004) is a warmhearted exploration of cultural collision in contemporary Morocco, oscillating between two worlds and two ideas about the meaning of experience and the enduring power of love. A middle age construction supervisor comes to Tangier to search for the love of his youth, lost many years ago. She is now married and with a grown up son. They eventually cross paths in a supermarket. Téchiné weaves together a half dozen subplots, creating a set of variations on the theme of divided sensibilities tugging one another into states of perpetual unrest and possible happiness.

Les Témoins (2007)[edit]

Les Témoins, starring Emmanuelle Béart, Michel Blanc, Sami Bouajila and Julie Depardieu, dealt with a group of friends and lovers confronting the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s; it was released in spring 2007. It opened in the U.S. spring 2008 under the title The Witnesses. New York Press critic Armond White, who has been Téchiné's most fervent U.S. supporter, hailed The Witnesses: "No filmmaker has a greater appreciation of human diversity than Téchiné, whose socially complex melodramas always feature age, gender and race through liberté, égalité, fraternité. That's Téchiné's radical vision of France--postmodern, post-Colonial and post-gay liberation with all those issues in motion."

The Girl on the Train (2009)[edit]

The Girl on the Train (La fille du RER), centers on a naive girl who fabricates a story about being attacked on a suburban Paris train by black and Arab youths who supposedly mistook her for a Jew. The story is based on a real event that took place in France in 2004. Téchiné dissects the psychological circumstances and consequences surrounding this bold lie in a rich drama. The director worked, in part, from Jean Marie Besset’s play about the scandal, RER, as well as from news reports and court records. “The story became the mirror of all French fears”, Téchiné commented, “a revelation of what we call the ‘collective unconscious.’ How an individual’s lie is transformed into truth with respect to the community at large and its fears. It's a truly fascinating subject.”

Filmography[edit]

Year English title Original title Notes
1969 Paulina is Leaving Paulina s'en va Original Script.
1975 French Provincial Souvenirs d'en France Original Script.
1976 Barocco Barocco
1979 The Bronte Sisters Les sœurs Brontë
1981 Hotel America Hôtel des Amériques
1983 La matiouette ou l'arrière-pays La matiouette
1985 Rendez-vous Rendez-vous
1986 The Scene of the Crime Le lieu du crime
1987 The Innocents Les Innocents
1991 I Don’t Kiss J'embrasse pas
  • Nominated—César Award for Best Director
  • César Award: Most Promising Actor (Manuel Blanc)
1993 My Favorite Season Ma saison préférée Original Script
1994 Wild Reeds Les roseaux sauvages Original Script
1996 Thieves Les voleurs Original Script
1998 Alice and Martin Alice et Martin Original Script
2001 Far Loin Original Script.
2003 Strayed Les égarés Loosely based on Gilles Perrault's novel The Boy With Grey Eyes
2004 Changing Times Les temps qui changent Original Script.
2007 The Witnesses Les Témoins Original Script
  • Nominated—César Award for Best Director
  • César Award: Best Supporting Actor (Sami Bouajila)
2009 The Girl on the Train La fille du RER Original Script
2011 Impardonnables Unforgivable Based on Philippe Djian’s novel Unforgivable
2014 In the Name of My Daughter L'Homme que l'on aimait trop

Frequent casting[edit]

Actor Paulina is Leaving
(1969)
French Provincial
(1975)
Barocco
(1976)
The Bronte Sisters
(1979)
Hotel America
(1981)
Rendez-vous
(1985)
The Scene of the Crime
(1986)
The Innocents
(1987)
I Don't Kiss
(1991)
My Favorite Season
(1993)
Wild Reeds
(1994)
Thieves
(1996)
Alice and Martin
(1998)
Far
(2001)
Strayed
(2003)
Changing Times
(2004)
The Witnesses
(2007)
The Girl on the Train
(2009)
Impardonnables
(2011)
Isabelle Adjani YesY YesY
Michel Blanc YesY YesY
Emmanuelle Béart YesY YesY
Juliette Binoche YesY YesY
Catherine Deneuve YesY YesY YesY YesY YesY YesY
Alexis Loret YesY YesY
Gaël Morel YesY YesY
Jacques Nolot YesY YesY YesY YesY YesY YesY
Marie-France Pisier YesY YesY YesY YesY
Stéphane Rideau YesY YesY
Marthe Villalonga YesY YesY YesY

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Marshall, André Téchiné, p. 2
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Riding, Finding Cinematic Gold, New York Times, December 29, 1996.
  3. ^ a b Marshall, André Téchiné, p. 4
  4. ^ a b c Marshall, André Téchiné, p. 5
  5. ^ Marshall, André Téchiné, p. 3
  6. ^ Marshall, André Téchiné, p. back cover
  7. ^ Armstrong, The Rough Guide to Film, p. 551
  8. ^ a b c d e f Armstrong, The Rough Guide to Film, p. 552
  9. ^ a b Philippon, André Téchiné, p. 121
  10. ^ "Festival de Cannes: My Favorite Season". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 2009-08-22. 
  11. ^ Marshall, André Téchiné, p. 81

References[edit]

  • Armstrong, Richard, The Rough Guide to Film: An A-Z of Directors and their movies, Rough Guides. ISBN 978-1-84353-408-2
  • Jones, Kent. André Téchine. La Estrastegia de la Tension, 42 Semana Internacional de Cine, Valladolid ISBN 84-87737-23-4
  • Kael, Pauline. "Lion-Hearted Women" (Review of French Provincial (Souvenirs d'en France)," The New Yorker, March 1, 1976 also in book When the Lights Go Down
  • Marshall, Bill. André Téchiné, Manchester University Press, 2007, ISBN 0-7190-5831-7
  • Milicia, Joseph. Téchiné, André in International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers.Vol. 2: Directors. St. James Press, 2001. ISBN 1-55862-477-5
  • Rees-Roberts, Nick, French Queer Cinema, Edinburgh University Press, 2008, ISBN 0-7486-3418-5
  • Gale Reference Team, "André Téchiné", Contemporary Authors, Gale-Thomson
  • Philippon, Alain, André Téchiné, Difussion Seuil,1988, ISBN 2-86642-066-7
  • Riding, Alan. Finding Cinematic Gold in the Dysfunctional Family, The New york Times, December 29, 1996
  • White, Armond. "Strange Gifts: Andre Techine Remakes the Melodrama," Film Comment, July/August 1995

External links[edit]