NYFF50: Men of Cinema: Pierre Rissient and the Cinema Mac Mahon
September 29 – October 12
Pierre Rissient in person for all screenings!
A still-functioning movie house located in the shadow of the Arc de Triomphe, the unassuming façade of Paris’ Cinéma Mac Mahon belies its history as one of the world’s sacred sites of celluloid worship. It was there, in the early 1950s, that the future critic-publicist-programmer Pierre Rissient and his band of film-crazed friends (mostly high-school students from the nearby lycée Carnot) convinced the theater owner to let them commandeer the programming, ushering in a tidal wave of American movies—especially film noirs and other genre fare—directed by the likes of Fritz Lang, Joseph Losey, Otto Preminger and Raoul Walsh (collectively dubbed the "Four Aces").
It was, in the words of critics J. Hoberman and Jonathan Rosenbaum, "a temple which, unlike the Hollywood film cathedrals of the 1920s, would show movies for movies’ sake." It also advanced an alternate cinematic pantheon that placed the likes of Italian genre directors Vittorio Cottafavi and Ricardo Freda above Antonioni and Bergman, Rear Window above Vertigo, The Magnificent Ambersons above Citizen Kane. We are pleased to offer this selection of films and filmmakers championed by the Mac-Mahonists, as chosen by Pierre Rissient, who will join us to present the screenings. Of the selection, Rissient says: "Along with Mizoguchi’s Oharu and Ugetsu, these magnificent seven films make an almost accurate autobiography of my youth and discovery of cinema."