Jacques Rivette, one of the leading lights of the French New Wave who died on Friday at age 87, was celebrated throughout the day with a series of homages from several French public figures, including President Francois Hollande, Gilles Jacob, Bulle Ogier, Claude Lelouch and Serge Toubiana.
In an official statement, Hollande called Rivette “one of the biggest filmmakers (who) marked various generations. … He was a director of women. Through films such as ‘Suzanne Simonin,’ ‘La Religieuse de Diderot,’ ‘L’amour fou’ or ‘La Belle Noiseuse,’ he offered major roles to actresses who entered the history of cinema,” said Hollande.
The actress Bulle Ogier, Rivette’s muse who notably starred in “Le pont du nord,” “L’amour fou” and “The Gang of Four,” said “(Rivette) was not only a great figure of cinema, but also a personal friend.”
“(Rivette)’s body of work was inventive, researched and well structured. Nothing but making films interested him,” added Ogier in a heartfelt statement.
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The Cannes Directors’ Fortnight tweeted, “Jacques Rivette : A free spirit, stark films with timeless engagements. Directors’ Fortnight cries for the passing of a founding father.”
Gilles Jacob, who headed the Cannes Film Festival for 10 years, paid tribute to Rivette on Twitter, writing that Rivette had a “passion for theater, for the blossoming of young talent and the freedom that supervised improvisation gives.”
“If one had to describe Rivette, one would need to cite two qualities: Lucidity and wit,” wrote Jacob about the late movie icon.
While attending the Gérardmer film festival as jury president, Lelouch, whose latest film “Un + Une” played at Toronto, also had kind words about Rivette. “It’s the death of a gentleman. He began his career as critic. Then he was eager to show that he could make movies and he did. We crossed paths various times because he had ‘La Religieuse de Diderot’ released at the same time as ‘A Man And A Woman.’ I knew that my films were not his thing, and he knew that his films were not my thing either. But we had a great deal of respect for each other. He had an open mind,” Lelouch told French film website Allocine.
Former French Cinematheque president Serge Toubiana gave one of the most touching and insightful homages.
“Rivette liked experimenting with films, theater and with time and space. His films were pure-play, independent and playful as well. He was followed by a group of wonderful actors such as Bulle Ogier, Michel Piccoli, Emmanuel Béart, Jeanne Balibar and Jean-Pierre Kalfon,” said Toubiana.
For Toubiana, “Rivette was undoubtly the most reflective, thoughtful, the most intellectual figure of the New Wave.”
In its homage to Rivette, the French Academy of Arts and Sciences’ president Alain Terzian pointed out “Rivette started his career as a critic like his illustrious accomplices François Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard, Claude Chabrol and Éric Rohmer with whom he launched the New Wave.
Though not as well known as other directors of the French new wave, he strived with each film — he made 30 in total — to test and reinvent the seventh art, Terzian continued.
The French Academy is expected to pay tribute to Rivette at the upcoming Cesar ceremony on Feb. 26.