With his latest film, Something in the Air, Olivier Assayas returns to an era he explored in his early masterpiece Cold Water (1994), namely a politically ripe France in the early part of the 1970s. The riotous events of the historic May 1968 protests in Paris still hover over the country as a new generation comes of age and attempts to continue the revolutionary fight; the French title literally translates into English as After May. The film begins on February 9, 1971, as a demonstration to support the release of political prisoners is met with violence by the police. Amid the chaos, two of the film’s central figures emerge: Gilles (Clément Métayer, in his film debut), a pensive young artist who dreams of becoming a filmmaker, and Christine (Lola Créton, from Catherine Breillat’s Bluebeard, SFIFF 2009), a vibrant, risk-taking activist dedicated to the cause. Something in the Air, which won the Best Screenplay award at the Venice Film Festival, captures the confusion, idealism, hope, devotion, anger and disappointment of a youth culture, one that has often been romanticized in cinema, but is rarely shown with the delicate complexity that Assayas brings to this film.
Co-presenters: Alliance Française, SF State University ‘s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute