Le Deuxième Souffle – The Second Generation 1968-1983

New IFFMH RETROSPECTIVE pays tribute to and celebrates one of the richest periods in French cinema.

Simone Barbès ou la vertu | © la traverse

A highlight of the programme at this year's International Film Festival Mannheim-Heidelberg (IFFMH) will be the newly created RETROSPECTIVE. With Le Deuxième Souffle – The Second Generation 1968-1983, curator Hannes Brühwiler and festival director Sascha Keilholz focus on the second generation of the Nouvelle Vague and their contemporaries. Some of the films will be shown on 35-millimetre copies or in digitally restored versions.

"French cinema after 1968 is a cinema of upheaval. It documents a profound change in French society, at a time when political, social and cultural values are being questioned and renegotiated," says Brühwiler.

Above all, it is a cinema that followed and had to deal with cinematic and political disruptions. The Nouvelle Vague is the pivotal point from which French film history is generally viewed. A generation of young filmmakers took the cinema by storm from the end of the 1950s in the Cahiers du Cinéma's slipstream. The cinéma de papa was declared to be the enemy and a conservative boredom. The films of Jean-Luc Godard, François Truffaut, Agnès Varda, Chris Marker, Eric Rohmer or Jacques Rivette exerted an immediate and worldwide influence that is still unbroken today, almost 60 years later. Today, the myth of the Nouvelle Vague is so strong that it overshadows much of the French cinema of the following years.

The selection of the retrospective Le Deuxième Souffle focuses on the generation of filmmakers who made their films immediately after the pioneers of the Nouvelle Vague. In many respects they even surpassed the works of their famous predecessors. Some of them are often called the second generation of the Nouvelle Vague. The retrospective takes as its starting point the year 1968 and the events surrounding May ‘68, which had left a deep mark on French society and culture.

The programme is made up of canonised classics from this phase and works that have been forgotten even in France. At the same time, this selection provides many cross-references to one of the richest epochs in French cinema.

Three films are shown on 35 millimetre prints: Maurice Pialat's feature film debut L'enfance nue, Gérard Blain's heavily autobiographical masterpiece Un enfant dans la foule and La maman et la putain by Jean Eustache, the manifesto of an entire generation.

The other screening copies are mostly digitally restored versions. The 4K restoration of Neige, directed by Juliet Berto and Jean-Henri Roger, was created as part of the Cannes Classics 2020 and will have its German premiere at the IFFMH, like most of the other new versions of the retro features.

Further films: La fiancée du pirate by Nelly Kaplan, L'étrangleur by Paul Vecchiali, Les hautes solitudes by Philippe Garrel, Jeanne Dielman 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles by Chantal Akerman, La Drôlesse by Jacques Doillon, Mon coeur est rouge by Michèle Rosier, Simone Barbès ou la vertue by Marie-Claude Treilhou.

Tchao Pantin by Claude Berri, one of the final, radical author's visions of this era, forms the end point of this retrospective.