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The Criterion Channel's March lineup

A Very Curious Girl dir. Nelly Kaplan

The Criterion Channel's March lineup includes the following French-speaking movies:

Double Feature: Boys to Men (March 5)
The Last Tree and The 400 Blows

A vital new cinematic voice and an influential master transform their own experiences of the trials and tribulations of growing up into richly resonant art. Shola Amoo’s semiautobiographical The Last Tree employs a swooning visual style to immerse viewers in the world of Femi, a young Nigerian British man navigating his conflicting identities as he comes of age in early-2000s London. Heralded by some as a British answer to Moonlight, it also contains direct nods to François Truffaut’s defining portrait of adolescent turmoil The 400 Blows, the French New Wave touchstone that introduced the director and his alter ego—Jean-Pierre Léaud’s Antoine Doinel—to the world.

Mandabi (Ousmane Sembène, 1968) (March 11)

Ousmane Sembène’s second feature departs from his early-career critiques of colonial power, instead focusing on the oppressive forces manifested within postcolonial African society.

Directed by Nelly Kaplan (March 17)

Sex, power, and rebellion are at the heart of the feminist cinema of Nelly Kaplan, the unsung iconoclast who passed away in November 2020. Born in Argentina to a Russian Jewish family, Kaplan relocated to Paris at age seventeen, where she became an assistant to legendary director Abel Gance before directing her first (and still best-known) feature, the caustic antipatriarchal revenge comedy A Very Curious Girl. Transgressive, satirical, and surreal, Kaplan’s films are defined by their proactive female protagonists—complex, empowered women who, in Kaplan’s world, are always in charge.

Featuring: A Very Curious Girl (1969), Papa the Little Boats (1971), Charles and Lucie (1979), The Pleasure of Love (1991)

Saturday Matinee: Georges Méliès: Fairy Tales in Color (March 20)

The inexhaustibly imaginative magician of early cinema, Georges Méliès created some of the medium’s very first fantasies through his revolutionary use of trick photography, special effects, and exquisite hand-painted color. Beautifully restored by Lobster Films, these whimsical wonders—including science-fiction landmark A Trip to the Moon, gorgeous dreamscape The Kingdom of Fairies, and the Jules Verne-inspired The Impossible Voyage—continue to delight and enchant more than one hundred years after their creation.

Featuring: The Pillar of Fire (1899), Joan of Arc (1900), A Trip to the Moon (1902), Robinson Crusoe (1903), The Kingdom of Fairies (1903), The Infernal Cauldron (1903), The Impossible Voyage (1904), Rip’s Dream (1905), The Inventor Crazybrains and His Wonderful Airship (1905), The Merry Frolics of Satan (1906), The Witch (1906), The Diabolic Tenant (1906), Whimsical Illusions (1910)

Directed by Ursula Meier (March 31)

Working with cinematographer (and regular Claire Denis collaborator) Agnès Godard,  French-Swiss filmmaker Ursula Meier has made two singular features to date, each the product of a distinctive vision that applies a fable-like sensibility to their view of life on the margins of contemporary Europe. Starring Isabelle Huppert and Olivier Gourmet, her first feature, Home, is an offbeat, tragicomic allegory in which a happy but highly unconventional family finds their hermetic existence upended by the construction of a highway right outside their house. Meier blends heartrending naturalism with fairy-tale elements in her follow-up, Sister, starring Léa Seydoux and Kacey Mottet Klein as a pair of impoverished siblings living in the shadow of a luxury ski resort who resort to desperate measures to survive.

Featuring: Home (2008), Sister (2012)