When the Camera Is On, Cinema Is Happening: The Complete Works of Jean Eustache
Screening Dates
  • July 15, 2023 8:30
  • July 23, 2023 6:00
New Restoration

One of the greatest films about the history of France, as great as Renoir’s La Marseillaise. Perhaps the only film ever that you can call an important piece of sociology, without trashing the words film and sociology.”

Jean-Marie Straub

Jean Eustache’s remarkable first feature was a self-professed starting over, a ground zero for a new paradigm of film-thinking for the director. A family portrait of the filmmaker’s elderly grandmother Odette—a pivotal figure in his life and principal caregiver in his youth—Numéro zéro is, essentially, a bare-bones interview with the septuagenarian by Eustache, who empties the film of any creative adornments in an effort to return cinema to its primal, Lumière-ian state. What I want is for cinema to be a pure and simple recording of reality,” he observed. This banality represents more than all the artistic’ research I had thought about.” Composed of long, stationary takes of Odette seated opposite her grandson at his kitchen table, it presents at once an engrossing (and by design, unabridged) account of a woman’s abundant life story, and a transparent record of its own spare production, clapperboard markers and all. In 1980, for financial reasons, Eustache cut a digest version for broadcast.

In French with English subtitles

Numéro zéro is a return to origins—of cinema and of the self—and an experiment in narration, both restrained and deeply personal.”

Juliet Clark, BAMPFA

Superb … The film is, as always with Eustache, a blend of personal and collective history, but in a more engaged manner that breaks away from the playfulness of the early shorts.”

Martine Pierquin, Sight and Sound