Jacques Demy THE ENCHANTER
"He has an idea of the world he is trying to apply
to the cinema or else... an idea of cinema which he applies to the world."
- Jean-Luc Godard
Pera Film, in its November 2011 program is saluting the French filmmaker Jacques Demy (Pontchâteau, 1931 - París, 1990), a key figure in French cinema who breathed fresh life into the musical genre. Although initially linked with the young directors who formed part of the nouvelle vague, Demy's work ended up becoming so unique and difficult to classify that he set off along an utterly personal path all of his own. His original approach to "singing films" and his exquisite sense of artistic direction always shunned any fashion or trend in cinema at that time.
Demy studied Fine Arts and started in animated films as an assistant to Paul Grimault. After directing several shorts, Demy made his feature-film debut with the first of his great films, Lola (1961), an emblematic French nouvelle vague film. He reconfirmed his talent in a melodrama set in the world of gambling, La baie des anges, (Bay of Angels) 1963. However, it was his third film that was to make a real impact all over the world and definitively established his unique vision of cinema. This was Les parapluies de Cherbourg, (The Umbrellas of Cherbourg) 1964, which won the Golden Palm at the Cannes Film Festival and was nominated for the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. Demy's passion for musicals was to be continued in his delightful homage to Hollywood films, Les demoiselles de Rochefort, (The Young Girls of Rochefort) 1967. In his following films, Demy continued to explore his whimsical sense of aesthetics and cinematic narrative in Model Shop, 1969), Peau d'âne (Donkey Skin), 1970) or Une chambre en ville, 1982), among others.
Pera Film's program includes five feature-length films of Demy's, as well as an important documentary Jacquout de Nantes, directed by Agnès Varda. Demy was the husband of fellow director Varda, whose documentary is a loving account of Demy's childhood and his lifelong love of theatre and cinema. Demy died of AIDS (this information was given in Agnès Varda's 2008 autobiographical movie Les Plages d'Agnès) in 1990 at age 59.