top of page

Arnaud Desplechin presents: La vie des morts (1991) + Petite conversation familiale (2000)

Arnaud Desplechin presents a newly restored version of his rarely screened debut, followed by a carte-blanche selection of an unheralded treasure by Hélène Lapiower.

Registration is closed
See other events
Arnaud Desplechin presents: La vie des morts (1991) + Petite conversation familiale (2000)
Arnaud Desplechin presents: La vie des morts (1991) + Petite conversation familiale (2000)


Mar 03, 2022, 7:30 PM

2220 Arts + Archives, 2220 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90057, USA

Mezzanine is thrilled to bring director Arnaud Desplechin to Los Angeles in person for a two-night residency, starting with his newly restored debut and a carte-blanche selection by the filmmaker.

La vie des morts (The Life of the Dead)

directed by Arnaud Desplechin

1991, France, 54m, DCP

Winner of the Prix Jean Vigo for debut short film— though its medium-length prevented it from getting a release stateside—Desplechin’s first film follows a large extended family reuniting in the Lille countryside following the suicide attempt of their cousin. All of the hallmarks of Desplechin’s style—the vivid sense of character, the high-wire balance of dense interpersonal relationships and their related anxieties, and stirring literary allusions—were already on display in this debut, which kicked off a string of 1990s masterworks. Featuring an ensemble of many who would continue to work with the filmmaker, including Emmanuelle Devos and Marianne Denicourt.

In French with English subtitles

Los Angeles premiere of the digital restoration from Why Not Productions


Official Selection: Cannes Film Festival, 1991

“For both its rarity and its painfully resonant command of mood, ranks among the highest priorities in [Desplechin’s filmography]…originates signature images from the Desplechin to come: […] dining room gatherings quaking with emotional turbulence…a delicately scattering camera pinned to the movements of a large family sharing intimate spaces...all cyclical, rotating activities that add up to a moving-diorama perspective on the tumult of family life.” -Danny King, The Village Voice

followed by:

Petite conversation familiale (A Little Family Conversation)

directed by Hélène Lapiower

2000, France, 67m, digital

Never before screened in the U.S., this tender documentary portrait is the sole directorial effort by Belgian actress Hélène Lapiower, who appeared in Desplechin’s My Sex Life, and tragically passed away from cancer in 2002. Shot over the course of seven years, Lapiower’s project begins as an intimate chronicle of her Jewish family, who immigrated to Brussels from Poland decades before, and transforms into a complex study of generational divide and questions of identity.

"When I began filming my family, I wanted to preserve images of my own world, which seemed to be slipping from grasp. A particular Jewish world on the brink of extinction, like many such worlds. I also wanted to create a link between two worlds: me, the actress in Paris, in mine; and my family, working-class Polish Jewish immigrants, in theirs. The typical immigrant dilemma: you’re suffocated if you stay within the family; but you’re an exile in the outside world… Today I realize exactly what sort of film I’ve made. The burning question happened all by itself: At what point has my generation, and me along with it, been deeply affected by the weight of 'history'? Did these great values of openness which had been passed down to us – and which are even drawn from the history of Jewish persecution – carry within them a contradiction which lead to the breakdown of Jewish identity? My film centers around this breakdown, full of rips and tears, and what is left of our identity. What will become of it all? Should something be left of it? And what exactly is 'it all?'" -Hélène Lapiower

In French, Yiddish and English with English subtitles

U.S. premiere

Followed by a conversation with Arnaud Desplechin

This program is presented with support from Unifrance and Villa Albertine.


Arnaud Desplechin will also be joining Mezzanine the following evening for the U.S. premiere of his new film, Deception, at the Lumiere Music Hall on March 4th. Click here for more information.

Share this event

Event Info: Events
bottom of page