Wednesday September 25 – 12:45 pm – Renoir Theatre
(+ Short Film Presentation: INVISIBLE HEROE)
(Screening ends at 2:45 pm)
85th ANNIVERSARY – International Premiere (restored film) | France | 1934 | Drama | 81 min | In French with English subtitles
Directed by: Jean Renoir
Written by: Jean Renoir, Carl Einstein
Cinematography: Claude Renoir
Film Editing: Suzanne De Troeye, Marguerite Houllé-Renoir
Original Score: Robert Bozzi
Produced by: Marcel Pagnol (Les Films Marcel Pagnol)
Cast: Charles Blavette (Andrex), Celia Montalvan (Josefa), Jenny Hélia (Marie), Édouard Delmont (Fernand), Andrex (Gabi)
International Sales: Gaumont
U.S. Distributor: Janus Films / Criterion
Basking in the scents and sounds of nature, and suffused with a Provençal light, Jean Renoir’s 1934 Toni recounts the adventures of a group of immigrant workers in the South of France and tells the sordid tale of a real-life love triangle gone awry. But what interests Renoir here is not the crime story that he pilfered from police records, but rather the day-to-day lives of these simple people and the moral choices they’re confronted with. The film’s heightened realism, use of natural light and locations, and casting of local non-professional actors has branded it a precursor to the Italian Neorealist movement. And with good reason. Indeed, Luchino Visconti, one of the founders of that movement and a great admirer of Renoir’s work, served as his assistant on the film’s production and was profoundly influenced by that experience. Not to mention the film’s impact on French New Wave directors, who embraced that same cinematic freedom a generation later. So Toni is not only a small gem in the Renoir universe and a harbinger of his soon-to-come masterpiece, The Rules of the Game, but it also gave birth to two decades of spectacular post-war European cinema.
The son of impressionist painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir, writer-director Jean Renoir is considered one of the greatest directors of all time. Between 1924 and 1970, he made more than forty films, including Boudu Saved from Drowning (1932), A Day in the Country (1936), The Grand Illusion (1937), The Rules of the Game (1939), The River (1951) and French Cancan (1954). His work has influenced countless filmmakers and literally opened the door for the French New Wave. Among his many honors, Renoir received an Academy Award for Lifetime Achievement in 1975. He died in 1979, in Los Angeles, at the age of 84. In 2010, the main DGA theater at COLCOA was officially christened the Renoir Theater during the festival. This new digitally restored version of Toni is presented at COLCOA, in association with Janus Films and Criterion, for the first time in North America, following its World Premiere at Cannes 2019.
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