I wish I could give some eloquent reason why the Anthology Film Archives' retrospective of French New Wave filmmaker Jean-Daniel Pollet—titled Unidentified Filmic Objects, and which starts tomorrow—is absolutely must-see, drive-all-night-if-you-live-outside-the-city essential—but I can't. I haven't seen a single film of his. And I would venture to say that few Americans have. But I have been reading about him for ages now it seems, mysterious references in occult texts swirling around the New Wave. And if I had my Godard on Godard handy, I might even be able to quote from his review of Pollet's most acclaimed and most sought after film, Méditerranée (1964)—but I don't. So unfortunately I have to go the risky and perhaps tacky route of insisting on the absolute necessity of seeing these rare films (rarely screened, rarely subtitled) without a shred of evidence. And go even a step further and let the retrospective's press release do the talking:
"Fully justified as it is, the praise lavished on the heavy-hitters of the French New Wave – Chabrol, Godard, Rivette, Rohmer, and Truffaut – has often deflected attention away from the many other talented artists who contributed to the breadth and vitality of that storied movement. Of all those associated with this unparalleled period, but eclipsed by the glory of their better-known colleagues, Jean-Daniel Pollet may well be the most gifted."
Because what else is cinema about but discovery, seeing new things and seeing things in new ways? I have no doubt the films of Pollet will be rewarding to those willing to make the exploration.
Unidentified Film Objects: The Films of Jean-Daniel Pollet plays at the Anthology Film Archives, October 31 - November 5, 2008.