Athens International Film Festival

    Archive : 19th AIFF 2013

  • Georges Franju: Behind the Mask

    For die-hard film fans, his name will always be linked to horror masterpiece "Eyes Without a Face", the first French pure horror specimen, as well as the birth of the now legendary French Cinematheque, a small film club Georges Franju once started with his buddy Henri Langlois in 1935.

    Apart from these two very important accomplishments, the unsung French auteur is responsible for a thoroughly eclectic filmography, including a series of sui generis short documentaries, highly atmospheric features with fantasy overtones, intricate literary adaptations, eccentric tributes to silent movie serials and pulp detective novels, all beautifully crafted with a poetic outlook that makes Franju's work a bizarre parenthesis in the history of French cinema, that's unlike anything else.

    Contrary to his younger colleagues, who were staging their own revolution with the Nouvelle Vague using film criticism as their point of departure, Franju was a passionate film lover, whose work is often permeated by retro pop culture and pulp fiction references, filtered through an idiosyncratic perspective that breathed new life into the contrived naivete of these marginal genres. Suspended somewhere between realism and fantasy, and heavily indebted to surrealism and expressionism, Georges Franju's own brand of cinema possesses a quality that's hard to put into words.

    Mostly based on imagery and atmosphere and much less reliant on dialogue or narrative, it draws its power from gentle allusions and elevating paradox within an otherwise mundane environment. With a directorial style that feels old-school and timeless at the same time, Franju built a filmography that's impossible to fit in one box, full of characters confined in physical or mental prisons, where lyricism alternates with documentary-like grittiness and humor comes after melancholy.

    Otherworldly and delicate, his oeuvre isn't remarkable in quantity but it's remarkable in quality, a unique film heritage that still hasn't found its rightful place in world cinema.

    Thanasis Patsavos

    Filmography (features)

    1974 Nuits rouges
    1970 La faute de l'abbé Mouret
    1965 Thomas l'imposteur
    1963 Judex
    1962 Thérèse Desqueyroux
    1961 Pleins feux sur l'assassin
    1960 Les yeux sans visage
    1959 La tête contre les murs

  • Shadowman

    Shadowman is a ruthless criminal with no moral compass, whose real identity remains unknown. With an army of human robots at his disposal, willing to obey his every order, he's about to ...

  • Thomas the Impostor

    An unapologetic dreamer, 16-year-old Thomas (Fabrice Rouleau) takes advantage of his similarity to a famous general's nephew to serve in the army during WWI and experience the glory first-hand ...

  • Judex

    Enigmatic avenger Judex kidnaps a corrupt banker on a quest for justice on behalf of his victims and then takes his innocent daughter under his wing to protect her from her father's demonic ...

  • Thérèse Desqueyroux

    Franju's first attempt to adapt a celebrated novel isn't just an exemplary literary adaptation but a conscientious continuation of the director's preoccupation with the subject ...

  • Eyes Without a Face

    A distinguished surgeon (Pierre Brasseur) abducts and mangles young women as involuntary organ donors in a desperate attempt to restore his beautiful daughter's face (Edith Scob), who was ...

  • Head Against the Wall

    A rebel without a cause, young François Gérane (Jean-Pierre Mocky) will find himself committed to an asylum after an intense confrontation with his authoritarian father. Desperate ...