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'Caramel' (2007) not only announced a striking new talent, it challenged what many might have expected from a female Lebanese director. Undermining stereotypes and hilariously funny at times, it also offered an insight into the roles of women in contemporary Beirut. 'Where Do We Go Now' (2011) employed the same device used in 'Lysistrata' (and more recently Spike Lee's 'Chi-Raq', 2015) – where sex is withheld from men until they can learn to live more peacefully.
Denis Lavant, born in 1961, is a French actor known for his distinctive face and his often physically demanding roles which involve dancing, acrobatics or slapstick. He has been in a long-standing association with filmmaker Leos Carax, and has starred in his almost all of his films. He is also known for his portrayal of a Charlie Chaplin impersonator in Harmony Korine's 'Mister Lonely' (2007).
One of the most gifted new generation comedy actors and writers, Alice Lowe first appeared in the cult series 'Garth Marenghi's Darkplace' (2004) before subsequent roles in 'The Mighty Boosh', 'Little Britain', 'The IT Crowd', 'Angelo's', 'The Beehive', 'Horrible Histories' and 'Ruddy Hell! It's Harry and Paul'. Her film breakthrough came with Ben Wheatley's 'Sightseers' (2011) which she co-wrote and co-starred with Steve Oram. She also appeared in his directorial debut 'Aaaaaaaah!' (2015). Other film roles include 'Paddington' (2014), 'Black Mountain Poets' and 'Burn Burn Burn' (both 2015). She recently wrote, directed and starred in the pitch black comedy thriller 'Prevenge' (2016).
If Jean Cocteau and Luis Buñuel mastered the art of committing dreams to film, David Lynch too the form deep into the dark recesses of nightmare. His early shorts, such as 'The Grandmother', hinted at what was to come. But even then, 'Eraserhead' (1977) surprised. What followed confounded. Mel Brooks' inspired decision to bring Lynch on board as the director of 'The Elephant Man' (1980) brought a strangeness that kept any hints of sentimentality in check. If 'Dune' (1984) was a grand folly, moments still inspire awe, from the sight of the giant worms to the grotesqueness of Kenneth McMillan's Baron Vladimir Harkonnen. But 'Blue Velvet' (1986) was a masterpiece – a deconstruction of American values and a deeply disturbing black comedy. 'Wild at Heart' (1990) was more outrageous – it also won the filmmaker the Palme d'Or at Cannes – but cruder and in its worst moments boorish. A segue into television produced 'Twin Peaks' (1990-91) and the excellent prequel feature 'Fire Walk with Me' (1992). Like the subsequent 'Lost Highway' (1997) and 'Mulholland Drive' (2001), Lynch perfected his nightmare worlds where logic was jettisoned in favour of his own perception of the world. They are a stark contrast to the sweet, fable-like 'The Straight Story' (1999), a lovely, eccentric tale of sibling rivalry and forgiveness. In the last decade, Lynch has made music videos, been the subject of documentaries, reprised 'Twin Peaks' and even opened a club in Paris. He has made just one film 'Inland Empire', that may just be far ahead of its time, or just so strange as to be of another world entirely.
No actor is more associated with the Nouvelle Vague (French New Wave) than Jean-Pierre Léaud One of the great icons of post-WWII French cinema, Léaud's career has been as idiosyncratic as it has long. At the age of 14, Léaud was cast as Antoine Doinel, director François Truffaut's young anti-hero in 'The 400 Blows' (1959). It was the first of five roles playing the character over a period of 20 years. During the 1960s, he also worked with Jean-Luc Godard on seven films including 'Weekend' and 'La Chinoise' (both 1967), with Jean Cocteau on 'Testament of Orpheus' (1960) and Pasolini on 'Pigsty' (1969). Arguably his most momentous year in film was 1973 when he appeared in Truffaut's 'Day for Night', Bertolucci's 'Last Tango in Paris' and Jean Eustache's 'The Mother and the Whore'. He has worked regularly since, for a wide variety of world filmmakers, including Aki Kaurismäki, Olivier Assayas, Tsai Ming-Liang, Bertrand Bonello and most recently Alberto Serra, taking the lead role in 'The Death of Louis XIV'.