Jean Eustache

Presented by the Melbourne Cinémathèque & ACMI

The Pain of Living: Jean Eustache, Being Cinema

Film program


Wed 10 Jul – Wed 24 Jul 2024

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Jean Eustache was born in Pessac in the southwest of France in 1938, the son of a Communist mason. Arriving in Paris in 1957, he initially worked for the French national rail company SNCF while attending Henri Langlois’ La Cinémathèque française in his spare time. There he met future leading lights of the nouvelle vague including Jean-Luc Godard, Eric Rohmer and Jean-Pierre Léaud. After an initial short film, La soirée, started in 1962 but never completed, a series of fascinating medium-length films followed, including Du côté de Robinson (1964), La rosière de Pessac (1968) and Le cochon (1970).

In 1973, inspired by his own life, he made the film he would become forever synonymous with, the epic The Mother and the Whore, considered by critic Jean-Michel Frodon as “one of the most beautiful French films ever made” and winning Eustache the Grand Jury Prize at Cannes. One of the great documents of post-1968 France, while featuring little more than people sitting around talking (the outrage it caused in France stemmed from its sexually frank dialogue, often based on secretly recorded exchanges between Eustache and his girlfriends), it somehow captured the failed dreams and disillusionment of a generation. Mes petites amoureuses (1974) was the only other narrative feature Eustache completed; following this, he made a few shorter works and acted in a number of films including Wenders’ The American Friend (1977).

Falling into a depression after suffering an injury that meant he would limp for the rest of his life, Eustache committed suicide in his Paris apartment in 1981. Kept from distribution for many years by his son Boris, the acquisition of his complete filmography in 2022 by Les Films du Losange and subsequent remastering mean these pivotal works can now finally emerge from obscurity.


Cinema 1, Level 2
ACMI, Fed Square

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Films in this program (Wed 10 July – Wed 24 July 2024)

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Australia's longest-running film society, Melbourne Cinémathèque screens significant works of international cinema in the medium they were created, the way they would have originally screened.

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