Claude Chabrol dies at 80

Director known as father of the New Wave

PARIS – French filmmaker Claude Chabrol, father of the New Wave movement, has died at age 80, Paris deputy mayor Christophe Girard confirmed on Sunday.
 
Chabrol began his career as a critic for prestigious Gallic film magazine Les Cahiers du Cinema then went on to become a prominent director with more than 50 films under his belt. He helped to launch the New Wave movement in the 1950s and hasn’t stopped working since.

Chabrol is known as a more mainstream director who has managed to make auteur cinema accessible to audiences both in France and abroad.
 
From “Le Beau Serge” in 1959 to his more recent titles including 2009's "Bellamy," 2007's "A Girl Cut in Two" and 2006 film "A Comedy of Power," Chabrol's career has had an uncommonly long and successful run through his more than half-century career.

His "Story of Women" about abortion under the Vichy regime sparked controversy and violent protest in France when it was released in 1988.

Chabrol has received acclaim for his work all over the world including prizes at global film festivals and several nominations for France's prestigious film awards Les Cesar.

His 1985 title "Le Poulet au Vinaigre" and 1978 film "Violette Nozière" both vied for the Palme d'Or at the Festival de Cannes.
 
"He had a sort of gourmandise, not just for the cinema and for cooking, but also for people’s lives," Festival de Cannes topper Thierry Fremaux told French press, adding: "His films will remain unique in the history of French cinema."
 
Chabrol was a critical and festival favorite, but also a preferred director for many of the country’s talent. "It's a real shock. All of the actors who worked with him are very sad. It’s really a friend who has passed away," French actor Francois Berleand said on Sunday, adding that "He laughed even in between takes. He was sure of himself and sure of others. He was a big man."

France's New Wave has seen its big screen tides ebb this year as Chabrol’s contemporary Eric Rohmer also passed away in January.

France's film community took the rainy Sunday to mourn Chabrol's death.

And over at the Toronto International Film Festival today, Chabrol's passing was a key topic of discussion among attendees.

Piers Handling, director of TIFF, said he never met Chabrol, as the French director in later years was too old to accompany his films to Toronto.

But he paid tribute to Chabrol for leading the French New Wave movement and for his prolific output of cutting-edge films like "Le Boucher" and "La Femme Infidele."

"I loved his work. He had a real sense of the French middle class, and kind of skewered them, but in a skillfully delicate way," Handling said as news of Chabrol's passing quickly filtered through the Toronto festival.
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