by Fiona McMurrey

1. “Chabrol l’anticonformiste” (2018) Cécile Maistre Chabrol

Courtesy of France Channel

“Chabrol l'anticonformiste" is a captivating documentary that delves into the life and artistic journey of the renowned French filmmaker, Claude Chabrol from the point of view of his own daughter. Through insightful interviews, archival footage, and cinematic analysis, the documentary unveils Chabrol's intensely playful, unorthodox approach to filmmaking, his rebellious spirit, and his relentless pursuit of truth and authenticity on the silver screen. With a keen focus on his groundbreaking works, the film navigates through the thematic intricacies and stylistic innovations that define Chabrol's oeuvre, shedding light on his profound impact on the world of cinema. "Chabrol l'anticonformiste" serves as a poignant tribute to a visionary filmmaker whose avant-garde legacy continues to inspire generations of cineastes worldwide.

2. “Sartre Camus : une amitié déchirée” (2014) Joël Calmettes

Courtesy of France Channel

"Sartre Camus: une amitié déchirée" is essential watching for any and all philosophers, amateurs or academics. It examines the complex and tumultuous friendship between two towering pillars of 20th century French philosophy and literature, Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus. Directed with a touching sensitivity, the film explores the profound intellectual and personal bond that once united Sartre and Camus, as well as the ideological and philosophical differences that ultimately led to their profound estrangement. Through archival footage, letters, and interviews with scholars and contemporaries, "Sartre Camus: une amitié déchirée" composes a vivid portrait of the dynamic relationship between these two titans of 20th-century thought. It delves into their shared commitment to their personal and political philosophies, existentialism and absurdism respectively, their divergent political beliefs, and the profound impact their ideas had on shaping the cultural and intellectual landscape of post-war Europe.

3. “Alain Delon - cet inconnu” (2015) Philippe Kohly

Courtesy of France Channel

"Alain Delon, cet inconnu" unravels the mystique surrounding one of French cinema's most iconic figures, Alain Delon. Executed with a deep reverence for the face that has come to define France, the film delves into the enigmatic persona of Delon, exploring the complexities of his life both on and off the screen. The documentary traces Delon's meteoric rise to fame, his artistic evolution, and the profound impact he has had on the landscape of international cinema. From his captivating performances in classic films to his controversial and fraught personal life, "Alain Delon, cet inconnu" offers viewers a nuanced portrait of a multifaceted artist grappling with fame, fortune, and family. It is a poignant exploration of an enigmatic icon whose legacy continues to resonate with audiences around the world, long after the cameras have stopped rolling.

4. “Isabelle Huppert, Message Personnel” (2020) by William Karel

Courtesy of France Channel

“Isabelle Huppert: Message Personnel" offers an intimate glimpse into the illustrious career and private world of the acclaimed French actress, Isabelle Huppert. The film navigates through Huppert's dynamic range of performances, exploring the nuances of her craft and the characters she brings to life on screen. Through a tapestry of interviews, behind-the-scenes footage, and reflective moments, "Message Personnel" uncovers Huppert's artistic process, shedding light on the complexity and depth she brings to each role and how they may or may not impact her. Beyond her cinematic achievements, the documentary also delves into Huppert's personal journey, offering insights into her upbringing, influences, and the experiences that have shaped her into one of cinema's most enigmatic and revered talents. "Isabelle Huppert: Message Personnel" stands as a tribute to a formidable artist whose work continues to challenge and inspire audiences across the globe, leaving an indelible mark on the landscape of contemporary cinema.