Janus will roll out the film in theaters across the U.S. at the beginning in April, following its March 9 premiere co-hosted by the Austin Film Society.
“Cold Water,” which world premiered in the Cannes Film Festival’s Un Certain Regard section, focuses on star-crossed adolescents (played by Cyprien Fouquet and Virginie Ledoyer) in 1970s France. The film drew strong reviews and earned Assayas international recognition.
“’Cold Water’ is one of the great missing films, a nearly unknown tour de force by Olivier Assayas. If it had ever been properly released, it would certainly be considered one of Olivier’s masterpieces,” said Janus Films President Peter Becker.
“With an uncanny fluidity, this deeply honest coming-of-age tale fuses wrenching emotional realism and a lush, expressionistic visual style driven by one of the most amazing soundtracks in any film,” added Becker, noting that the uncleared music rights kept the film from getting distributed in the U.S.
Assayas said that the “premiere of the restored ‘Cold Water’ is a huge satisfaction, and the result of years of concern, struggle, anger, resilience….Ever since I shot this film in 24 days in December ’93 – and it opened at the Cannes Film Festival in May 94 – it has had a great life of its own, traveling the world and screening at most major festivals. Unluckily, its access to general release has been plagued by misfortune after misfortune.”
Assayas said he and his partners had to clear the French rights, international rights and music rights to allow the film to have its “long-overdue U.S. release.”
The French director described “Cold Water” as a “movie about kids in the ’70s.” “They look very much like myself and my friends at the time….It was my first shot at some sort of cinematic autobiography and I saw it as an experiment,” said Assayas, adding that “Cold Water” changed his “filmmaking life” by teaching him that “it is by taking chances, by trying side roads that you open up new spaces for yourself.”
The helmer paid homage to Sylvie Barthet, the original line producer on “Cold Water,” who’s been working with him ever since and is now a co-producer on his movies. He also thanked Janus Films & Criterion Collection, which “have been involved in this process for years, even at a time when we thought there was no credible way to untangle this knot.”
Assayas will be present at the Austin Film Society from March 9-11 for screenings of several of his movies, including “Something in the Air,” “Paris Awakens,” “Irma Vep,” “Summer Hours,” “Clouds of Sils Maria,” “Personal Shopper” and “Cold Water.” The screening series, co-organized by French film promotion organization UniFrance, will be followed by discussions with Assayas. He will also be in Austin to participate in the SXSW Conference on March 11, along with Austin Film Society founder and artistic director Richard Linklater.
Assayas is currently in post on his latest film, “Non-Fiction,” a tragicomedy starring Juliette Binoche, Guillaume Canet and Vincent Macaigne. Charles Gillibert’s CG Cinema is producing with Playtime, which is handling international rights.