Past Event

Histoires d’A

January 25, 2024
6:30 PM - 9:00 PM
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East Gallery, Maison Française, Buell Hall

Charles Belmont and Marielle Issartel, 1973, 85 minutes.

In French with English subtitles

Film Screening and discussion with Axelle Ropert and Nicholas Elliott

Presented in connection with a Film at Lincoln Center series celebrating French film critic Serge Daney (1944-1992), January 26-February 4, 2024. For information and tickets for the related series presented by Film at Lincoln Center, please click here. Discount Code FOOTLIGHTS can be used to get $5 off all tickets.

Histoires d’A, Charles Belmont and Marielle Issartel’s 1973 landmark documentary about the struggle for abortion rights in France, opens with a card stating that the women we are about to see—women seeking abortions, campaigning as activists, or living with the consequences of the repressive laws governing reproductive health—are not exceptional. Yet Histoires d’A stands apart from the dogmatic militant cinema of its era precisely because it allows us to see its subjects not as illustrations of a trend, but as individuals with their singular problems and—most importantly—their perspectives. Banned by the French government upon its release in 1973, Histoires d’A became what Serge Daney called an “organization film,” one whose makers and supporters were forced to organize in order to create an illegal distribution network, through which the film was ultimately seen by tens of thousands of viewers. The ban on the film was finally lifted in November 1974, shortly before the opening of the parliamentary debates that would lead to the legalization of abortion in France. Restoration completed by the Centre National du Cinéma, under the supervision of Marielle Issartel and Philippe Rousselot.

This screening and discussion is presented in connection with a film series at Film at Lincoln Center entitled Never Look Away: Serge Daney's Radical 1970s, running January 26-February 4, 2024. In 1983, French film critic Serge Daney released La Rampe, a collection of essays published in Cahiers du Cinéma over the course of the 1970s. On the occasion of its long-awaited English translation (under the title Footlights), Film at Lincoln Center is excited to present a generous selection of the films Daney championed in its pages, with many presented on 35mm. Highlights include Akira Kurosawa’s Dersu Uzala; two selections from Jean-Luc Godard, Number Two and Here and Elsewhere; and Robert Bresson’s The Devil, Probably, among many more must-see classics here.

With guest introductions from translator and series co-programmer Nicholas Elliott, French filmmaker-critic Axelle Ropert, and others, this series aims not only to bear witness to the catholic taste and acute intelligence of Daney, a thinker whom Jean-Luc Godard recognized as the last in a long critical tradition started by Denis Diderot, but to bring his thought into the present and ask what it means to those working and thinking in film today. The film series is organized by Nicholas Elliott and Madeleine Whittle.