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May 28
The Class Embassy of France - La Maison Française 4101 Reservoir Road, NW - Washington, DC
Georges Didi-Huberman Lectures at UCI Critical Theory at UCI Humanities Gateway 1030 Irvine, CA 92697-3375



Mathieu Amalric is not only an acclaimed actor who has worked with everyone from Arnaud Desplechin, Olivier Assayas, and Alain Resnais to Stephen Spielberg, David Cronenberg, Roman Polanski, Guy Maddin, and Wes Anderson, he is also an extraordinary filmmaker in his own right. His seventh feature-length film as a director is both a heartfelt tribute to the legendary chanteuse Barbara (1930-97), and a vehicle for another peerlessly talented French luminary (and frequent Amalric collaborator), the actress and singer Jeanne Balibar (the subject of her own retrospective co-presented by Anthology and the French Institute Alliance Française; click herefor more details).

Amalric’s films are remarkable for their intuitive freedom, and their emphasis on emotional textures and states of feeling rather than on straightforward narrative construction or easily grasped meanings. BARBARA is a case in point: eschewing anything like a coherent, birth-to-death account of the events of her life, the film instead orchestrates fragments of the singer’s life and performances into a free and quasi-abstract meditation on Barbara’s identity and cultural presence. And by casting Balibar not as Barbara per se but more self-referentially as an actress making a film-within-the-film about the singer, his film becomes an even broader investigation into the concept of biographical filmmaking, representation, and identity. It’s an experimental biopic in the tradition of Stanley Kwan’s CENTER STAGE, Peter Watkins’s EDVARD MUNCH, and Paul Leduc’s FRIDA, and features a typically riveting, charismatic performance from Balibar (who will be here in person for opening night!).

“To fans of the mononymous Barbara – the delicate-voiced, emotionally acute French chanteuse adored by everyone from Jacques Brel to François Mitterand – Amalric’s mega-meta, dreamily blurred biopic-within-a-film may seem a bemusing tribute to a national icon. To those unfamiliar with the singer and her work, this film is likely to be a more perplexing experience still: an elusive ghost of a celebrity portrait, a meditation on likeness and impersonation in which the subject, the actor and the performance become difficult to prise apart on screen.” –Guy Lodge, THE GUARDIAN

Jeanne Balibar received for this role the Best Actress Award at the 2018 César. 


Directed by: Mathieu Amalric
Written by: Mathieu Amalric, Philippe Di Folco, Pierre Léon 
Cast: Jeanne Balibar, Mathieu Amalric 
Year: 2017
Runtime: 98min
DCP, in French with English subtitles
Released by: Gaumont


Opens in New York at Anthology Film Archives on October 12 with Jeanne Balibar in person 

More information available through Anthology Film Archives