Le Concours (The Graduation)

Le Concours (The Graduation)

Friday, May 5, 2017 - 6:30pm
Friday, May 12, 2017 - 3:00pm
Claire Simon  | 
France |
 2016 | 
119 minutes

VENEZIA CLASSICI AWARD, BEST DOCUMENTARY ON CINEMA, VENICE 2016. 

THIS FILM IS PART OF THE FRENCH FRENCH PROGRAM.

DOXA is exceptionally happy to welcome back Claire Simon (the subject of our first ever retrospective in 2016) with her most recent film, Le Concours. The title, translated as “the entrance exam,” is an in-depth and intimate look at the students looking to gain a place in La Fémis, one of the most famous and prestigious film schools in the world. (Simon herself was the Head of Directing Studies.) As the budding cinéastes struggle to find a place, the narrative spends a good deal of time with their interlocutors, pulling back the curtain to reveal the depth of seriousness and care that is extended to the students. Impassioned arguments about merit, and the very nature of cinema are hurled into the air. Everyone has a deeply held, and often passionate opinion. “Can you be insane and still be a great director?” asks one woman. “There are lots of crazy directors!” comes the furious reply. As the conversation boils and shifts, Simon’s camera captures each flick of an eyebrow, every side-eye glance. To quote our guest curator Thierry Garrel about Simon’s filmmaking style: “Tenderness is at the core of Simon’s work. She takes aim at people with a respectful and benevolent camera that is fully inhabited by the spirit of amicalité (friendliness).” Even in wild disagreement, there is still civility.

But there is something far greater at stake here than simply who gets in and who doesn’t. Each instructor, industry professional, and filmmaker understands that they serve a greater purpose. Cinema, even culture itself is the fundament of every exchange. As the discussions become richer, deeper, wiser, the hopeful students wait outside for the results to be posted. It is insanely, gorgeously, and most wonderfully French! -DW