10-13 July

Crime Scene is a unique festival celebrating the best in crime fiction and film. Now in its fourth edition, Crime Scene has a distinctly continental flavour this year, with our accompanying seasons of Melville and Simenon. We are delighted that once again TCM (Turner Classic Movies) will be the Main Sponsor of Crime Scene and are also pleased to welcome Penguin as the Literary Sponsor. More than 50 distinguished crime writers and experts on the genre will take part in a series of events and discussions including Walter Mosley in conversation with John Harvey, Janet Evanovich in conversation with Lindsey Davies, alongside book-signings and a book fair.

Crime Scene opens with a special appearance by Walter Mosley who will be on stage for a Q&A following the first British screening of Always Outnumbered dir. Michael Apted, based on Mosley’s collection of short stories about ex-con Socrates Fortlow (Laurence Fishburne).

Another highlight of the festival will be The Guardian Interview with Cate Blanchett and Joel Schumacher, following a screening of the eagerly anticipated, true crime thriller Veronica Guerin (courtesy of Buena Vista International UK).

Our Closing Night gala presentation is Buffalo Soldiers (courtesy of Pathé Distribution Ltd) starring Ed Harris, Joaquin Phoenix and Anna Paquin in a black comedy set on a US military base near Stuttgart as the Berlin Wall is set to fall.

The TCM Gala this year will include the screening of a newly restored print of The Asphalt Jungle (1950) dir. John Huston, this film provided the inspiration for Jean-Pierre Melville to change Bob le flambeur from a straight heist movie into a comedy of manners.

 

Michael Riley, VP and Channel Manager, TCM Europe, Middle East & Africa said:

"We are very pleased to sponsor the Crime Scene festival for the third year running. We believe this is a great opportunity for us to reach an audience that is as passionate about timeless movies as we are at TCM. Following the festival TCM will air a Crime Wave season from 14 to 20 July featuring a variety of crime movies and documentaries."

Simon Winder, Penguin Publishing Director comments:

"'Penguin is delighted to be the Literary Sponsor for Crime Scene. We have worked for some years to get Maigret back in print and in Penguin Modern Classics - where he belongs with the other great writers in French of the 20th century."

All this and more than 50 crime writers 10-13 July 2003 makes Crime Scene a simply unmissable event. www.bfi.org.uk/crimescene

Main Sponsor Literary Sponsor

 

Jean-Pierre Melville

Throughout the month of July 2003 the National Film Theatre will present the first retrospective of Jean-Pierre Melville's work in more than 20 years. Jean-Pierre Melville is a legendary figure in the history of French cinema and although he only made 13 films they are among the most influential of their time.

Melville himself is a strange character, worthy of a part in one of his own films. Born to a prosperous Jewish family, he spent his formative years in Paris, becoming so obsessed with American culture that he adopted his signature uniform of Stetson and Raybans and changed his name as a homage to Herman Melville. He served with distinction in the French Resistance, a key experience which shaped his view of the world.

His first film was an adaptation of a French Resistance novella, ‘Le Silence de la mer’, (1947-49), which he achieved in spite of opposition from the author and the French film industry. The success of this film led Jean Cocteau to invite the fledgling director to adapt his novel, ‘Les Enfants terribles’, and once again the result was a huge success with Cocteau's voice-over, Edouard Dermithe's over-ripe performance as Paul, the whole beautifully photographed and set to a great baroque score. Les Enfants terribles remains one of Melville's best-loved and most modern works.

From here on Melville rarely put a foot wrong. Bob le flambeur (1956) is a remarkable achievement (the film is acknowledged as one of the key inspirations of the French New Wave); this was Melville's first original script and it is an engaging mixture of 'a love letter to Paris' and a heist movie, with memorable scenes in the streets and cafes of Montmartre, filmed with a characteristic freedom. This film alone would be enough to secure Melville's place in cinema history but there followed a remarkable series of films in which Melville continued to forge his own authentic vision of crime noir.

Deux hommes dans Manhattan (1959) (in which the director also starred) turns Paris into New York, with a series of stunning interiors conjured up in Melville's studio (a percursor of the live-work space) and convincing noir exteriors in which Paris makes an utterly convincing stand-in for NYC.

Léon Morin, prêtre (1961) was a return to the theme of the resistance but starred two of the hottest New Wave stars, Emmanuele Riva as Barny the atheist widow, and Jean-Paul Belmondo as Morin, the Catholic priest.

It established Belmondo as one of the leading French actors and was both a critical and commercial success. Belmondo starred again in Le Doulos [Doulos the Finger Man](1963), a superb study of loyalty and betrayal in the underworld, its deliciously ambiguous twists paralleled by its title which means both a hat or an informer, and the gangsters in hats and trench-coats who are caught in a hybrid Franco-American fantasy world.

Georges Simenon (whose centenary the NFT is also celebrating in July with a special season of adaptations) was the author of the original novel adapted by Melville for L'Aîné des Ferchaux [Magnet of Doom] (1963) which once again starred Belmondo, this time in colour, with the book's original French and Panamanian locations transposed to Manhattan and the Deep South.

But it is perhaps Le Samouraï (1967) which contains the most authentically Melvillian character, Jef, a hard-bitten contract-killer who is being double-crossed by his employer, played to great effect by Alain Delon, whose raffish charms seem to suggest the overlap between the lone US gangster and the Japanese swordsman bound by a strict code of honour.

A highlight of the season is undoubtedly Le Cercle rouge (1970) Melville's penultimate film and his most popular. Drawing on his love of films such as The Asphalt Jungle and Du Rififi chez les hommes (both being shown as part of Crime Scene) this is a melancholy tale of a perfectly executed robbery and its tragic fall-out. Melville was well-served by a starry line-up including Yves Montand, Gian-Maria Volonté and Alain Delon. This noir masterpiece in colour is both a riveting spectacle and an intensely felt philosophical investigation whose power to move is undimmed more than 30 years after it was made.

This major retrospective of Jean-Pierre Melville, master of French noir marks the publication of the first biography in English of this neglected master.

This retrospective is programmed by Ginette Vincendeau, author of, J.P. Melville: An American in Paris, (bfi Publishing) £14.99

Ginette Vincendeau is available for interview.

Press contact bfi Publishing: Sarah Prosser, tel: 020 7957 4747

As a precursor of the French New Wave, Melville created stylised studio sets and succeeded in capturing a flavour of American metropolitan sophistication. Quoted as an inspiration by the likes of Quentin Tarantino, John Woo, Jim Jarmusch and Neil Jordan, Melville is long overdue a critical re-appraisal.

A supporting season of films, Jean-Pierre Melville in Context, includes films which Melville wanted to make or which inspired him, such as This Gun for Hire dir. Frank Tuttle (1942) and The Killing (1956) dir. Stanley Kubrick.

Le Cercle rouge Extended run re-release

NEW RESTORED PRINT – A BFI RELEASE

Melville’s penultimate and most popular film pays tribute to The Asphalt Jungle and Du Rififi chez les hommes with its tale of men getting together, performing a daring robbery, and suffering its tragic consequences. Yet Le Cercle rouge also significantly departs from these classic models with its enigmatic melancholy heroes, bleak philosophical outlook and self-reflexivity. The meticulously planned and brilliantly executed heist is both riveting spectacle and metaphor for Melville’s conception of film-making. At the core of Le Cercle rouge is the paradox of men deploying extraordinary skills ultimately to demonstrate the futility of the effort. ‘All men are guilty’, warns the chief-of-police, and indeed they all meet in the ‘red circle’ , as foretold by the opening quote. This pared-down gangster epic is also Melville’s most opulent, star-studded movie, Alain Delon, Gian-Maria Volonté and Yves Montand are memorable gangsters but it is Bourvil who steals the show, as Inspector Mattei. The beloved French comic appears here in an unusually tragic role, all the more poignant as he died shortly before the release of the film. A noir masterpiece in colour, Le Cercle rouge is the consummate distillation of the heist movie and a totally original take on it.

France-Italy 1970/Dir. Jean-Pierre Melville. With Francois Perier. 140 mins.

Screening 4-24 July

Press contact: Cate McKay Haynes

Tel: 020 7815 1343

Press screening: 4 June, bfi Stephen Street, London W1

6pm for 6.30pm, RSVP essential

 

Georges Simenon: A Centennial Celebration

A season throughout July celebrating the centenary of the prolific Belgian crime writer, creator of Inspector Maigret. Georges Simenon is one the most adapted writers for film and television, a brilliantly scandalous personal life and a natural gift for publicity make him a fascinating study.

A dazzling range of directors have tackled the translation of Simenon’s works for the screen, from Jean Renoir in the precursor of noir, La Nuit du Carrefour (1932), an early outing for Inspector Maigret; Julien Duvivier directed one of three adaptations of Les fiancailles de Monsieur Hire, his version Panique (1946) seems inspired by the work of Fritz Lang with its lynch-mob hysteria and dark shadows.

Simenon lived in the USA for a decade 1945 -1955 and The Brothers Rico (1958) is a taut thriller about mobster brutality which shows clearly how intensely he understood his adopted home.

But it is primarily to France that the season turns with The Watchmaker of Saint Paul (1973) dir. Bertrand Tavernier, a brilliant debut feature that transposed an American story to Tavernier’s native Lyon to great effect.

As a counterpoint to these film adaptations there is a very rich seam of much-loved British television versions of Simenon. We are delighted to be able to present three British impersonators of the great Inspector Maigret, one of whom Maigret himself thought definitive, the actor Rupert Davies, but Richard Harris and Michael Gambon are also excellent in the role. A special treat is a rare outing for the two episodes which survive from the BBC’s adaptation of Simenon’s non-Maigret stories, Thirteen Against Fate, originally broadcast in 1966.

Penguin are publishing six classic Maigret mysteries to celebrate the Simenon centenary: ‘A Man’s Head’, ‘Inspector Cadaver’, ‘Lock 14’, ‘My Friend Maigret’, ‘The Bar On The Seine’, ‘The Yellow Dog’.

Press contact: Louise Ball tel: 020 7010 3156, louise.ball@penguin.co.uk

John Simenon, the son of Georges Simenon, is available for interview.

Press contact: NFT Press Office

Brian Robinson or Ian Cuthbert tel: 020 7815 1327 or 1330

brian.robinson@bfi.org.uk or ian.cuthbert@bfi.org.uk

website: www.bfi.org.uk/crimescene

Booking information

The NFT is open to all. NFT members are automatically members of the British Film Institute and entitled to a discount on all tickets.

NFT Box Office tel: 020 7928 3232. Unless otherwise stated tickets are £7.50, concs. £5.70. Members pay £1 less on any ticket. Book online: www.bfi.org.uk/crimescene.

LITERARY EVENTS

All tickets cost £3 unless otherwise stated.