French novelist, playwright, screenwriter, essayist, and experimental filmmaker Marguerite Duras (1914–1996) has always been better known as a writer than a filmmaker, but through the years, BAMPFA has often screened films she has been associated with. We take this opportunity to present the Bay Area premiere of Suzanna Andler (2021), directed by Duras’s longtime friend and collaborator Benoît Jacquot. Before her death, Duras gave Jacquot permission to adapt her play of the same name to the screen. The resulting work is both faithful to its source and made with conviction, drawing out Duras’s themes and using the language of cinema to add resonance to her work. To round out a trio of films, we also screen the recently restored Le navire Night (1979), an experiment in cinematic form directed by Duras and narrated by Duras and Jacquot, and the French New Wave classic Hiroshima mon amour (1959), Duras’s first screenplay and Alain Resnais’s debut feature.
Duras’s writing style changed over the years from a conventional approach to one that experimented with form and achieved a seamless integration of past and present. She was praised for writing poetic dialogue and was able to pare texts down to the point that she gave importance to what was not said. Her influence on art cinema remains significant, and for her many devoted followers, it is exciting that in 2021, a quarter century after her death, we can premiere a new film based on Suzanna Andler.
—Susan Oxtoby, Director of Film and Senior Film Curator