Enfances (Childhoods) (Directors: Yann Le Gal, Ismaël Ferroukhi, Corinne Garfin, Joana Hadjithomas, Khalil Joreige, Isild Le Besco, Safy Nebbou): This very interesting idea, brought to realization by French director Yann Le Gal, brings together six short films, each concerning a pivotal moment in the childhood of six great film directors: Fritz Lang, Orson Welles, Jean Renoir, Jacques Tati, Alfred Hitchcock, and Ingmar Bergman. I hadn’t heard of any of the segment’s directors before, but three or four of the segments were outstanding. My favourite is the story of how Fritz Lang, at the age of ten, discovers a family secret that changes his politics and his whole outlook on life. Also excellent was the recollection by Jean Renoir of how his friendship with a peasant child who teaches him how to hunt and steal gives him an appreciation for the injustice of class distinctions. The segments on Welles and Hitchcock, though good, were perhaps the weakest. But the segment on Jacques Tati was perhaps the closest in spirit to an actual Tati film. The gangly Tati is too tall to fit into his class photo, so he wanders off into the school on an almost wordless adventure. The way he ends up in the photo is pure physical comedy. The segment on Bergman rounds out the film, and if I’d been more familiar with his work, I might have appreciated it more.
I really enjoyed the way each segment not only told a story from the director’s life, but was also directed in their signature style. Although these omnibus films are always bound to be uneven, these six stories moved along at a great pace and made for a very enjoyable (and hopefully enlightening) experience.