Of Women and Horses: power, class struggles and horse-riding
by Fabien Lemercier
25/01/2012 - Unveiled on the Piazza Grande at the latest Locarno Film Festival, Patricia Mazuy’s French/German co-production Of Women and Horses [trailer] (see news) is being released today in French theatres in the wake of almost unanimous critical acclaim. Released by Le Pacte on a 56-print run, the film starring Marina Hands, Bruno Ganz (pictured) and Josiane Balasko, captivates on account of its mix of genres, blending an exploration of the very particular world of horse training with universal issues (power, money, social classes) in a sort of modern western magnified by DoP Caroline Champetier’s cinematography and the music by John Cale.
"The world of horse-riding is a world with its caste system: on one side the stable boys and grooms, then the horse riders, trainers, competitors and owners. It’s a very hierarchical world where you find both old aristocratic families and new-rich people," explained Mazuy. "Competition horses are very expensive; this creates very fierce relationships between people. They all have specific goals and have no reason to be nice with others in order to achieve them. On the contrary, all the characters have good reasons to play underhand tricks. It’s a rich subject area for filmmaking, it’s a whole metaphor for the world. Moreover, the initial idea of Simon Reggiani (editor’s note: the film’s screenwriter) was to make a sort of The Rules of the Game set in the horse-riding world.
Another former Locarno title hitting screens this Wednesday is Rabah Ameur-Zaïmeche’s original Smugglers’ Songs [trailer] (see news), unveiled in competition at the Swiss festival and distributed by MK2.
Three films arrive straight from last year’s Venice Film Festival: Yves Caumon’s The Bird [trailer], featuring a moving performance by Sandrine Kiberlain (see news – Les Films du Losange on 42 screens); Belgian director Chantal Akerman’s sublime and radical Almayer’s Folly [trailer] (see review and news - Shellac on 22 screens); and Canadian helmer Jean-Marc Vallée’s minority French co-production Café de Flore [trailer] (starring Vanessa Paradis, see review and watch video interview with the director – UGC Distribution).
The line-up also includes French producer Louis Becker’s directorial debut Sunday Dads [trailer] (see news - Pathé Films); Marc Goldstein’s Belgian film Glenn, The Flying Robot (distributed by Aramis Films/Albany Films); and two documentaries: Stefano Savona’s French/Italian title Tahrir: Liberation Square [trailer] and Dieter Auner’s Irish/German film Off the Beaten Track.
(Translated from French)