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What Is an Auteur?

Especial de MUBI

The idea of a film director being the “auteur”—or author—of a film is one that was put to paper by François Truffaut in the 1950s, reformulated by American critic Andrew Sarris in the 1960s, and has been debated and re-interpreted ever since. MUBI’s new series aims to explore the increasingly complicated question of what constitutes an auteur. With this ongoing program, arranged in a series of director double bills ranging from the likes of Alfonso Cuarón to Claire Denis, we hope to elucidate this nebulous term while also shedding light on some of cinema’s finest masters along the way.

La sapienza

Eugène Green Francia, 2014

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What Is an Auteur?

Next subject in our What Is an Auteur? series is French-by-way-of-America director Eugène Green, whose movies are spare—he counts Bresson as an influence—yet refreshingly funny, forthright, and touching. With its stunning architecture tour, this wistful delight intertwines art into its drama.

The Son of Joseph

Eugène Green Francia, 2016

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12 días para ver
What Is an Auteur?

Eugène Green brings his delightfully idiosyncratic touch to this unusual version of the Nativity story involving a quest to find a boy’s true father, a hilarious satire of the French literature scene, and, as always with this filmmaker, moving doses of profound emotional and spiritual sincerity.

Che, el argentino

Steven Soderbergh Francia, 2008

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27 días para ver
What Is an Auteur?

The first part of a project not just split down the middle, but fractured in a more abstract sense, this bold reconstruction of the Che’s life (charting the revolutionary’s time in 50s Cuba) challenges our every expectation. An unconventional biopic from the always risk-taking Steven Soderbergh.

Che: Guerrilla

Steven Soderbergh España, 2008

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28 días para ver
What Is an Auteur?

Guerilla concludes Steven Soderbergh’s broad-canvas biopic in a more subdued style, finding Che Guevara as he resurfaces in Bolivia, preparing the Latin American Revolution. Lead by another tremendous performance from Benicio del Toro, who won the Best Actor prize at the Cannes Film Festival.

Import/Export

Ulrich Seidl Austria, 2007

expiró hace 23 días
What Is an Auteur?

An epic exposé of the relationship between Europe and countries to its east, Ulrich Seidl’s drama is an engrossing and provocative tale of humans, economies, and dreams. Rooted in real-world research and stunningly photographed by the great Ed Lachman, this is a global story told on a human scale.

Jesus, You Know

Ulrich Seidl Austria, 2003

expiró hace 24 días
What Is an Auteur?

Fluidly moving between fiction and docs, the films of Austria’s foremost director, Ulrich Seidl, are a cross between Erich von Stroheim’s sensuous anthropology and Herzog’s ecstatic blend of fact and imagination. This confrontative inquiry of Catholicism is a direct revelation of individual faith.

Luz silenciosa

Carlos Reygadas México, 2007

expiró hace 27 días
What Is an Auteur?

Reygadas proved himself one of the most controversial contemporary directors when he won the Jury Prize at Cannes in 2007 with this gorgeous remixing of Dreyer’s Ordet. Weaving the sacred and the profane, the holy and the damned, Silent Light is one of the great modern films on the subject of faith.

Batalla en el cielo

Carlos Reygadas México, 2005

expiró hace 28 días
What Is an Auteur?

Behold! Art cinema in all its grandeur. If you miss the glory days of lauded, grandiose artists making controversial films with spellbinding visual approaches and headline-grabbing, risqué content, look no further than Mexican visionary Carlos Reygadas and his sophomore vision Battle in Heaven.

Los canallas

Claire Denis Francia, 2013

After the wide canvas of her Africa-set White Material, the great Claire Denis turned her sensuous storytelling to the black heart of contemporary film noir. Her fascinating, sinister thriller stars Vincent Lindon, Chiara Mastroianni, and two Denis regulars: Alex Descas and Grégoire Colin.

Material blanco

Claire Denis Francia, 2009

With her Robert Pattinson-led High Life in theatres, we pay homage to Claire Denis and her marvelous dancing impressionism. For this collaboration with Isabelle Huppert, the director, who grew up in French Africa, returns to her roots for a powerful story about the death throes of white colonialism.

Flandres

Bruno Dumont Francia, 2006

Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, Bruno Dumont’s forlorn love story asks where the roots of modern violence is in the rural countryside. Flanders audacious finds the temptations of passion and cruelty both on the battlefield and in the illusion of peace at home.

Hadewijch, Entre la fe y la pasión

Bruno Dumont Francia, 2009

Faith is an increasingly neglected theme in contemporary cinema, but not so for Bruno Dumont, who with each film challenges our understanding of modern spirituality. In Hadewijch he continues his search with the experiences of an exiled nun’s encounters with the transience and dangers of devotion.

Sex Is Comedy

Catherine Breillat Francia, 2002

Our next film by provocatrice Catherine Breillat gives you a glimpse behind the scenes: her signature dramas of sex and psychology, taking place on a movie set! Clearly inspired by the making of Breillat’s controversial Fat Girl, this is a bracing self-inquiry into the power-games of moviemaking.

Anatomy of Hell

Catherine Breillat Francia, 2004

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What Is an Auteur?

Alert: Not for the faint-of-heart! Breillat approaches sex in ways no (male) filmmaker has ever done. Her unwavering exploration of femininity peaks in this loose sequel to Romance. Here she fearlessly blurs the line between porn and art—and casting porn legend Siffredi is just the beginning.

4:44 Last Day on Earth

Abel Ferrara Estados Unidos, 2011

Cinema has seen its share of apocalyptic scenarios, yet none fuse intimacy with prescience like this one. Eradicating all spectacle from the dramatic palette, 4:44 is instead a frequently oneiric, entirely humanist reckoning with the end of existence from the perspective of a Manhattan apartment.

El rey de Nueva York

Abel Ferrara Estados Unidos, 1990

Abel Ferrara, the iconoclastic cinema-poet of New York City, directs this sleek, savage masterpiece. Walken gives a career-best performance as the titular socialist gangster (you read that right) whose name was even taken up by late rapper Notorious B.I.G. as a pseudonym. A key film of the 1990s.

Phoenix

Christian Petzold Alemania, 2014

Our second film by contemporary German auteur Christian Petzold is his biggest hit to date, a devilishly clever and twisting adaptation of Vertigo to the suspicions and unease of a post-war Germany left in ruin. Like Barbara, it stars the inimitable Nina Hoss in a challenging but unforgettable role.

Barbara

Mathieu Amalric Francia, 2017

French pop legend Barbara is far too special to make a normal biopic about. Instead, Mathieu Amalric, subject of this week’s double feature, creates an imaginatively free and dazzling portrait not just of Barbara, but of the challenge of an actress (Jeanne Balibar) to embody such a unique person.

El cuarto azul

Mathieu Amalric Francia, 2014

Next in our survey of the signatures of great filmmakers is a double feature by one better known as an actor: Mathieu Amalric. Yet Amalric’s films behind the camera are distinct, sly and enthralling, especially this puzzlebox neo-noir which cleverly fragments a crime of passion into a mystery.

Acero azul

Kathryn Bigelow Estados Unidos, 1989

One of the most under-valued films by the director of The Hurt Locker, Bigelow turns a male-oriented genre upside down in this gritty, gripping policier by putting a female cop (Jamie Lee Curtis at her best) in the lead. As in the best cop thrillers, the personal and professional are inextricable.

Los viajeros de la noche

Kathryn Bigelow Estados Unidos, 1987

Master auteur Kathryn Bigelow has crafted some of the most purely sensorial and kinetic genre cinema of our time. Exhibit A: Near Dark, her sophomore film, is a bewitching vampire-action-horror hybrid that descends into the hidden worlds of rural America to find hell. Erotic, violent, and essential.

Y tu mamá también

Alfonso Cuarón México, 2001

Alfonso Cuarón’s excellence became crystal clear with his fourth feature, Y tu mamá también. The birthplace of both Diego Luna and Gael García Bernal’s stardom, this deceptively sublime road movie broke ground by expressing the many complexities intrinsic to the sexual odyssey that is youth.

Sólo con tu pareja

Alfonso Cuarón México, 1991

This year we’re excited to launch “What Is An Auteur?,” a new series of double bills dedicated to exploring what defines the style, sensibility and perspective of directors. With Roma being one of last year’s true masterpieces, we’re starting with Alfonso Cuarón and his satiric, sexy Mexican debut.

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