One of the best-kept secrets of French cinema, Philippe Garrel (born 1948) started making films at the early age of sixteen, inspired by the lively artistic scene and political turmoil of Paris in the 1960s. At first, his films were fiercely experimental, exploring the possibilities of cinematic language as a predominantly poetic expression, drawing mostly from Garrel’s own turbulent, drug-infused intimate and social life at the time, especially his longtime romantic involvement with singer-songwriter and Warhol superstar Nico who lived in Paris in the 1970s. In the early 1980s, Garrel’s filmmaking shifted into the realm of more classical, narrative direction, while remaining poetic reflections of director’s real life and probing examinations of love, (in)fidelity, and crushing influence of world affairs on individual lives. Garrel received the Prix Jean-Vigo for The Secret Child in 1982, and was twice awarded the Silver Lion for best director at Venice Film Festival, in 1991 for I Don’t Hear the Guitar Anymore and in 2005 for Regular Lovers, for which he also received the Prix Louis-Delluc.
For a long time admired by only a narrow circle of friends and colleagues—Jacques Rivette called Garrel “the child of Cocteau and Godard,” and Olivier Assayas called him “the proverbial underrated genius”—Philippe Garrel finally receives this retrospective, organized in collaboration with New York City’s Metrograph theater and the French Institute, is the most complete introduction yet of to the United States.