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LUCILE HADZIHALILOVIC: Innocence
Sat 20 Jan 14:30 Curzon Soho
Dir. Lucile Hadžihalilović 2004, France, 122 mins, 35mm
Plus filmmaker Q&A
This year, our continuing centring of women filmmakers on the fringe is helmed by our International Juror, Lucile Hadzihalilovic. Hadzihalilovic’s strikingly unique debut feature is a dark yet beautiful fable that contrasts the atmosphere of the gothic horror writings of both Mary Shelley and Poe with the light of youthful purity. This award-winning French drama, featuring Marion Cotillard, follows a year in the life of the girls at a secluded boarding school, and is inspired by the 1903 novella Mine-Haha, or On the Bodily Education of Young Girls by Frank Wedekind. We complement this with a retrospective of her earlier short works.
Jonathan Romney, The Guardian, 2016:
Hadžihalilovic grew up in Morocco, where her father – the surname is Bosnian – had moved from Yugoslavia. Aged 12, she started reading a lot of science fiction, notably Ray Bradbury and Theodore Sturgeon and then discovered horror writer HP Lovecraft, whose fascination with all things tentacular and aquatic is unmistakably imprinted on Evolution (2016). Moving to France at 17, she studied art history, before graduating from the Paris film school La Fémis.
In current French cinema, Hadžihalilović is pretty much out on her own limb with her commitment to the textures of the imagination. “Sometimes when you dream, the images are neutral, but they have a real emotional charge that doesn’t seem to fit,” she says. “That’s what I’m trying to capture. When I start a film, I never really know what it’s about, and I want to find out – to explore that zone of mystery.”
She started making films (with Gasper Noé) as a duo: He shot her debut mini-feature, La Bouche de JeanPierre, AKA Mimi (1996), and she edited and produced his early works Carne and I Stand Alone. They work separately these days, but Hadžihalilović was involved in the development of Gasper Noé’s trippy afterlife drama Enter the Void – “a script that took a really long time to write, even though people think it didn’t have a script at all”.