French New Wave Filmmaker Jacques Rivette Dies at 87

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Jacques Rivette

The director of 'Celine and Julie Go Boating' was a key part of the European movement, with contemporaries Francois Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard.

French director Jacques Rivette, famed for his influence on the New Wave movement of the 1950s and '60s, has died. He was 87.

Rivette's death was confirmed by French cultural minister Fleur Pellerin on Twitter. French president Francois Hollande released a statement on the director's death.

"Jacques Rivette was one of the greatest filmmakers. He marked several generations," he said, citing his works such as Diderot, L'Amour Fou and The Beautiful Troublemaker (La Belle Noiseuse) and his penchant for creating characters for women actors.

"The President of the Republic expresses its sincere condolences to his family and loved ones," he added.

Before directing his first film, Rivette served as a writer for the famed Cahiers du Cinema beginning in 1952 and as editor of the magazine from 1963-65. Though he had dabbled in film during his tenure, he began full-time filmmaking after leaving the magazine, going on to direct 30 films over the next half-century.

He is known for his influence on the French New Wave movement alongside collaborators and legends Francois Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard and Claude Chabrol. His influential short film Le Coup de Berger, shot in Chabrol's apartment, is considered one of the first films of the movement. Paris Belongs to Us followed, then the controversial The Nun starring Anna Karina, which was banned in France until 1975.

Though he started with a short film, Rivette became known for the length of his films, peaking with 1971’s Out 1, a 12-hour-and-53-minute opus following a modern theater troupe based on the writings of Honore de Balzac.

His most famous films were 1974’s Celine and Julie Go Boating, which was recognized at the Locarno Film Festival, and the four-hour-long The Beautiful Troublemaker (1991), starring Jane Birkin.

He followed with an epic two-part film about Joan of Arc in 1994, starring Sandrine Bonnaire, which earned her a Cesar nomination.

His final film was 2009’s Around a Small Mountain, again starring Birkin, which premiered in Venice.

“The news of Jacques Rivette’s passing is a reminder that so much time has passed since that remarkable moment in the late ’50s and early ’60s when so many directors were redrawing the boundaries of cinema," director Martin Scorsese said in a statement. "Rivette was one of them. He was the most experimental of the French New Wave directors, probably the least known in those early years.

“I vividly remember the shock of seeing his first two films, Paris Belongs to Us and The Nun. Two very different experiences, both uniquely troubling and powerful, quite unlike anything else around. Rivette was a fascinating artist, and it’s strange to think that he’s gone. Because if you came of age when I did, the New Wave still seems new. I suppose it always will.”

Updated at 11:50 a.m. on Jan. 29 to add Scorsese reaction.

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