MY JOURNEY THROUGH FRENCH CINEMA: Tavernier’s Insightful Epic Documentary

Intriguing, involving and informative, MY JOURNEY THROUGH FRENCH CINEMA, filmmaker Bertrand Tavernier’s new epic documentary, offers an insightful and deeply personal history of French cinema, and a lifetime in the making.

A selection of the Cannes, Telluride, and New York Film Festivals, MY JOURNEY THROUGH FRENCH CINEMA is scheduled to open in New York on Friday, June 23 at the Quad Cinema followed by a national roll out.

Tavernier delves into his own vast experience, starting from the earliest films seen as a budding and passionate cinephile, as a way to revisit some of the directors,  actors, craftsmen, and composers who graced French movies between the 1930s and 11970s, and impacted him throughout his life.

Drawing on his voluminous knowledge, and inexhaustible love of cinema and perspective, Tavernier knows his native cinema inside and out, from giants like Jean Renoir, Jean-Luc Godard, Marcel Carné, and Jean-Pierre Melville – for whom he worked as an assistant, to now overlooked and forgotten figures like Edmund T. Gréville and Guy Gilles.

Through Tavernier’s unique observations and reminiscences, the film also honors iconic actors Jean Gabin (Le Chat, La Grande Illusion,) French-American action hero Eddie Constantine (Alphaville).

It pays tribute to artists and craftsmen, such as composers Maurice Jaubert (L’AtalantePort of Shadows) and Joseph Kosma (The Rules of the Game, La Grande Illusion,) highlighting seminal films and scenes that shaped the history of world cinema, and also Tavernier himself as an artist.

His filmmaking career that has spanned the last five decades, with films including The Clockmaker, ‘Round Midnight, The Princess of Montpensier, Coup de Torchon, A Sunday in the Country, Life and Nothing But, Captain Conan, and The French Minister.

Tavernier also worked as a film critic for France’s film publications Positif and Cahiers du Cinéma; he is also the author of American Friends and the encyclopedic 50 Years of American Cinema.

He co-runs the Institut Lumière in Lyons, alongside Cannes Film Fest director Thierry Frémaux.

In conjunction with the release of MY JOURNEY THROUGH FRENCH CINEMA, the most extensive Tavernier retrospective in over 25 years, organized in collaboration with former MoMA curator Lawrence Kardish, will take place June 16-22 at the Quad Cinema, with a selection of “Tavernier’s Treasures,” rare films featured in the documentary June 23-25.

Scorsese on the Documentary:

“Bertrand Tavernier has made an extremely precise and detailed film about Jacques Becker, Marcel Carné, music in the French cinema of the 30s, Jean Renoir and so many other filmmakers. It is a remarkable work, made with great intelligence…  It is a very precious work. You are convinced that you know all that by heart, until Tavernier comes along to reveal to us the pure beauty of it all. 

MY JOURNEY THROUGH FRENCH CINEMA is a must-see document to all film lovers, French and International.

I have seen some of the features discussed by Tavernier numerous times, and yet listening to him provides new insights, new joys and pleasures.