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Festival of New French Cinema

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The fifth annual Festival of New French Cinema, presented by Facets Multimedia Center and French Cultural Services in Chicago, runs Friday through Thursday, December 7 through 13, at Facets Multimedia Center, 1517 W. Fullerton. Unless otherwise noted, tickets are $7, $5 for Facets members. For more information call 773-281-4114.

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 7

Liberte-Oleron

The title of Bruno Podalydes's 2000 black comedy refers to a boat purchased by the hero (Denis Podalydes, the director's brother), which is beset by disasters during a family outing. 113 min. (7:00)

Bankrupt

Mathieu Demy plays a stockbroker whose bank goes under; fleeing France, he hooks up with a young pregnant woman. Antoine Desrosieres directed this 2000 black-and-white feature. 75 min. (9:15)

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 8

The Magnet

Eight young men in a nondescript neighborhood of Marseilles, excluded from the French mainstream because of their North African heritage, lose themselves in meaningless sex and petty crime in this often powerful 2000 feature by Kamel Saleh and rap star Akhenaton. The characters' chaotic lives are nicely rendered by the film's episodic structure, pastiche sound track, circular camera movements, and erratic improvisational rhythms, and the resulting mood of hopeless nihilism is stunningly visualized in the terrorist fantasy that provides the ending. Also known as Like a Magnet. 92 min. (FC) (3:00)

Bye Bye Babylon

This blithe road movie, the debut video feature of 23-year-old Raphael Frydman, tries for the unsettling sense of displacement in Jim Jarmusch's early films but meanders too much to sustain any interest. A young high school teacher (Emmanuel Faventines), ardently pursued by one of his students (the gawky but charming Isild Le Besco), impulsively hops a flight to Brazil but scurries back after losing his wallet; later she stumbles onto some money and takes off for Mexico, leaving him a note to meet her in New York and sending him Super-8 postcards as she makes her way there. Frydman gets sidetracked from his goofy romantic premise after turning up on-screen as a Frenchman who befriends the girl, though the video is still agreeable for its urban characters' exotic fantasies of the Americas. 80 min. (TS) (5:00)

Stand-by

The initial idea is provocative: a man abandons his wife in the cafeteria of a French airport just before their scheduled flight to Buenos Aires, but instead of going home she remains in the airport as a permanent resident, working as a prostitute. Writer-director Roch Stephanik explores many of the nuances and ramifications of this fascinating concept, ably assisted by Dominique Blanc (Those Who Love Me Can Take the Train), whose performance won her a Cesar, the French equivalent of an Oscar. Yet the latter stretches of this 2000 feature are less memorable than the first part. 119 min. (JR) Stephanik will attend the screening. (7:00)

Girls Can't Swim

A first feature (2000) about the passionate friendship between two teenage girls. Director Anne-Sophie Birot will attend the screening. 101 min. (9:30)

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 9

Stand-by

See listing for Saturday, December 8. (1:00)

Liberte-Oleron

See listing for Friday, December 7. (3:30)

Beach Cafe

A young man in Tangiers meets the elderly owner of a run-down beach cafe and convinces him to turn it into a restaurant in this feature by Benoit Graffin, which he and Andre Techine adapted from a Paul Bowles story. 85 min. (6:00)

Skin of Man, Heart of Beast

A man returns to his family after a mysterious 15-year absence in this 1999 first feature by Helene Angel. 100 min. (7:45)

MONDAY, DECEMBER 10

Girls Can't Swim

See listing for Saturday, December 8. (7:00)

De l'amour

Virginie Ledoyen (The Beach) stars as a child of comfortable middle-class parents who's caught shoplifting and subsequently abused by a prison guard; her Arab boyfriend, several rungs below her on the social ladder, sets out to avenge her humiliation. The tone of this blue-collar drama seesaws between the sensationalism of its penal muckraking and the gray realism of its clandestine romance, set against the deadening dullness of an ethnically mixed industrial suburb. Ledoyen brings a girlish petulance and moral ambiguity to her role, though Yazid Ait (who cowrote the streetwise dialogue) is one-dimensional as her rebellious beau. Directed by Jean-Francois Richet (Inner City). 75 min. (TS) (9:00)

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 11

Ouch

A romantic comedy starring Andre Dussolier. Sophie Fillieres directed this 2000 feature, her second. 116 min. (7:00)

Boyhood Loves

A young man (Mathieu Amalric) who's been away at college returns to his family's farm and has problems adjusting to his parents, an old friend, and the teenage sister of an ex-lover. Yves Caumon directed. 102 min. (9:00)

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 12

The Squale

See Critic's Choice. (7:00)

De l'amour

See listing for Monday, December 10. (9:00)

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 13

Skin of Man, Heart of Beast

See listing for Sunday, December 9. (7:00)

The Squale

See Critic's Choice. (9:00)

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