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Forgotten Filmmakers of the French New Wave

May 04, 2022 – June 03, 2022

The Museum of Modern Art

The French New Wave of the 1950s and 60s radically transformed the language of cinema. While its leading figures are widely recognized—over the years, Jean-Luc Godard, François Truffaut, Eric Rohmer, Jacques Rivette, Claude Chabrol, Agnès Varda, Alain Resnais, Jacques Demy, and Chris Marker have all had retrospectives at MoMA and beyond—there were many other New Wave filmmakers whose work has remained largely unsung. This major retrospective of more than 40 features and shorts allows the discovery of the most important among them, drawing upon the dictionary of 162 new filmmakers that appeared in the December 1962 issue of Cahiers du cinema. Included among these is Alain Cavalier’s rarely screened L’insoumis, starring Alain Delon, as well as other films relating to the Algerian War, including James Blue’s The Olive Trees of Justice (1961) and Jacques Panijel’s banned film October in Paris (1962). The specter of French colonialism is manifested, as well, in Jacques Melo Kane, Mamadou Sarr, and Paulin Soumanou Viera’s groundbreaking Afrique sur Seine (1955) and in the ethnographic films of Jean Rouch, including Moi, un Noir (1958)And while the French New Wave was doubtless dominated by men—this exhibition does not neglect names like Alexandre Astruc, Jacques Doniol-Valcroze, Georges Franju, Jacques Rozier and Edouard Molinaro—there were, nonetheless, a select few women like Paula Delsol who made deeply personal work in the shadow of the pioneering and towering figure of Agnès Varda.

Organized by Jean-Michel Frodon, independent curator, and Joshua Siegel, Curator, with Olivia Priedite, Senior Programming Assistant, Department of Film, The Museum of Modern Art.




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Film at MoMA is made possible by CHANEL.

Additional support is provided by the Annual Film Fund. Leadership support for the Annual Film Fund is provided by Debra and Leon D. Black and by Steven Tisch, with major contributions from The Contemporary Arts Council of The Museum of Modern Art, Jo Carole and Ronald S. Lauder, the Association of Independent Commercial Producers (AICP), The Junior Associates of The Museum of Modern Art, the Samuel I. Newhouse Foundation, Karen and Gary Winnick, and The Brown Foundation, Inc., of Houston.

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L’amour a la mer. 1964. France. Directed by Guy Gilles. Courtesy Lobster Films

L’Amerique insolite (America as Seen by a Frenchman). 1960. France. Directed by François Reichenbach. Courtesy AGFA

La Pyramide humaine (The Human Pyramid). 1961. France. Directed by Jean Rouch. Courtesy Icarus FIlms

Judex. 1963. France. Directed by Georges Franju. Courtesy Janus Films

Le combat dans l’ile. 1962. France. Directed by Alain Cavalier. Courtesy Gaumont Collection

Les Oliviers de la Justice (The Olive Trees of Justice). 1962. France. Directed by James Blue. Courtesy Kino Lorber

Machorka-Muff. 1963. West Germany. Directed by Danièle Huillet, Jean-Marie Straub. Courtesy Grasshopper Films

Moi, un noir. 1958.  France. Directed by Jean Rouch. Courtesy Icarus Films

Terres noires. 1964. France. Directed by Luc Mollet. Courtesy Les Films d’Ici. Courtesy Les Films d’Ici