Magazine article Screen International

'Alive in France': Cannes Review

Magazine article Screen International

'Alive in France': Cannes Review

Article excerpt

Abel Ferrera stages a series of concert performances celebrating his filmmaking career; the result is surprisingly endearing

Dir. Abel Ferrara. France. 2017. 79mins

Abel Ferrara's concert film is very much like his features -- gritty, raw, idiosyncratic -- but Alive In France might be the first time viewers could reasonably call one of his works endearing, even sentimental. Documenting a series of performances the 65 year-old director gave in France in October 2016 as part of a career retrospective, the movie is both a ragged lark and an accidental portrait of the artist as the consummate seat-of-his-pants hustler, doing whatever it takes to put his vision out into the world.

From the outset, Alive In France has an appealingly jagged quality.

Premiering in Directors' Fortnight, Alive In France will lure the director's cult following, although those unfamiliar with Ferrara's films may simply appreciate the Doors-ian swagger of the music and the director's lively presence in front of the camera.

Shot on the fly, the film follows Ferrara and frequent collaborators Joe Delia and Paul Hipp in a handful of concert dates in Toulouse and Paris, playing songs from Ferrara's movies. Along the way, the film catches up with the director as he does Q&As for the French film retrospective and works to attract attention for his shows.

From the outset, Alive In France has an appealingly jagged quality. Ferrara's band quickly figures out they need to find drummers for each date, and rapper Schoolly D has to drop out after he discovers he's on a no-fly list. These obstacles seem to play perfectly to the strengths of this indomitable filmmaker, however, and we watch as Ferrara embraces the chaos, turning his documentary into a treatise on the logistical demands required to make any piece of art.

This Ferrara is a proud iconoclast. …

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