François Truffaut: For the Love of Films

From humble beginnings in 1930s Paris, François Truffaut went on to become one of the most significant directors of French cinema and is widely regarded as one of the founders of the French New Wave. This Spring, we’re delighted to bring a series of Truffaut films to the big screen once again, in a celebration of a ground-breaking and hugely influential filmmaker. Over the upcoming weeks, join us as we explore some of Truffaut’s finest works, from his revolutionary debut The 400 Blows to The Last Metro - one of his final films. Along the way, we’ll revisit some lesser-seen titles: each of the Antoine Doinel sequels and Shoot the Pianist, Truffaut’s ode to American gangster pictures. Of course, we’ll also be revisiting Jules et Jim, a cornerstone of French New Wave cinema, and a masterwork amongst an incredible body of films.

Truffaut’s own relationship to cinema developed at a young age. A troubled childhood saw him regularly skip school, eventually being expelled at the age of 14. Afterwards, he set his own academic goals: to read three books a week and watch three films a day. This escape to a world of cinema is explored frequently throughout his films, especially in the autobiographical The 400 Blows. Spending much of his adolescence in the movie theatre, Truffaut caught a wide range of international films, becoming particularly interested in the works of American directors Howard Hawks, John Ford and Nicholas Ray. Above all, though, he was enamoured by the films of British director Alfred Hitchcock and Truffaut’s films, especially Shoot the Pianist, lean heavily into a Hitchcockian style.

However, Truffaut’s films retain a distinct identity, one which established the style and sentiment of the French New Wave. These are films which reject a sense of tradition, they are ground-breaking, bold and brilliantly experimental. Often exploring the representation of youth, existential crises relating to personal relationships and commentary on wider society, Truffaut’s films maintain a relevance to contemporary audiences, speaking to the present as much as the past.

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