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Another “Bleak Week” at the American Cinematheque


Anaïs Reboux (left) and Roxane Mesquida (right) look at the same direction

June 1-7, 2023


After a successful and fascinating first series last year, the American Cinematheque offers us another “Bleak Week” centered around the “Cinema of Despair” with a selection of films that immerses us into the darkest aspects of humanity. Among them are three quite unusual French movies that you should not miss!

Among a selection of almost thirty movies from all over the world, the American Cinematheque chose to show these three French movies that each embody an aspect of the “cinema of despair” :

Baxter, Jérôme Boivin – June 2
Baxter, a sociopathic bull terrier, stars in this chilling French horror film that blends thrills and black comedy into a truly original tale. The inner thoughts of the brooding Baxter reveal that he is quite unhappy with his situation—living with an elderly woman who is afraid of him. In search of his ideal master, he successfully plots how to do away with her—and attempts a similar plan when he becomes dissatisfied with his next owner. It’s not long before the ingenious Baxter finds the perfect guardian—a lonely, introverted boy whose macabre interest in Hitler’s personal life helps turn the all-too-willing canine into a thoroughbred killing machine.
1989, DCP, 82 min, Rialto Pictures

Black Girl, Ousmane Sembène – June 3
Sembène, who was also an acclaimed novelist in his native Senegal, transforms a deceptively simple plot—about a young Senegalese woman who moves to France to work for a wealthy white couple and finds that life in their small apartment becomes a figurative and literal prison—into a complex, layered critique on the lingering colonialist mindset of a supposedly postcolonial world.
19566, DCP, 59 min, Janus Films

Fat Girl, Catherine Breillat – June 7
Twelve-year-old Anaïs is fat. Her sister, fifteen-year-old Elena, is a beauty. While the girls are on vacation with their parents, Anaïs tags along as Elena explores the dreary seaside town. Elena meets Fernando, an Italian law student; he seduces her with promises of love, and the ever watchful Anaïs bears witness to the corruption of her sister’s innocence. 
2001, 35mm, 86 min, Janus Films


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