Pierre Rissient: Man of Cinema

Even his greatest admirers, such as James Toback, Hou Hsaio-Hsien, and the late Sidney Pollack, have had a hard time explaining exactly what it is Pierre Rissient does for a living. A fixture at the Cannes Film Festival, Rissient wields the kind of influence that lands an unknown talent such as the young Jane Campion a slot in the festival's program. Passionate and charming, Rissient is beloved for his uncompromising attitude: “It is not enough to like a film. You must like it for the right reasons.” This year's recipient of the Mel Novikoff Award began his fortuitous career as a Parisian film buff and then a publicist, which led to distributing films with Bertrand Tavernier. They only took on films they loved, defining tastes and launching movements. Rissient got involved in making films as assistant director on Claude Chabrol's Les Cousins and Jean-Luc Godard's Breathless (he describes Godard's style of radical jump cuts as an accidental discovery), and later directed a couple of deeply personal works. This casual, unabashedly affectionate documentary, filled with anecdotes from Abbas Kiarostami, Clint Eastwood, Olivier Assayas, and Quentin Tarantino, as well as plenty of Rissient's own droll recollections, is an inspiring portrait of a unique character-and an illuminating peek at the inner workings of the international film scene.

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