Though the French New Wave movement began to fade after the 1960s, its impact on audiences and filmmakers has remained relevant even today. Though many New Wave directors have since passed away or retired, some continue to work in the industry: Agnès Varda, a member of the Left Bank group, recently teamed up with French photographer JR to create the Oscar-nominated road documentary Visage Villages (Faces Places). The style and innovative spirit of the New Wave live on in those whose work reflects boldness and originality.
JR and Agnès Varda in Visages Villages. Image: Slate
The 1990s saw a re-emergence of realism in the French cinema, particularly through directors Mathieu Kassovitz (La Haine) and Jean-Pierre Jeunet (Delicatessen, Amélie). Jacques Audiard, one of France’s most respected modern directors, rounded out the early 2000s with The Beat My Heart Skipped (2005) and A Prophet (2010).
The Beat My Heart Skipped. Image: Kanopy
Though Hollywood continues to dominate much of the international scene, French films have maintained their reputation for prestige and originality. Les Intouchables and The Artist, both released in 2011, helped remind the world what France had to offer. The Artist’s win for Best Picture at the 84th Academy Awards secured it as one of France’s highest modern filmic achievements.
Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo in The Artist. Image: The New York Times
As an artistic medium, film offers endless possibility for growth and change. As the birthplace of the cinema, France holds a unique position to be at the forefront of new styles and technology. For those who love movies, France is the place to be.