Irma Vep (with Olivier Assayas in person)

Co-presented by the French Film and TV Office

Olivier Assayas broke through internationally with his jazzy decoupage Irma Vep. Not content with documentary realism, Assayas introduced New Wave flourishes into this behind-the-scenes story, which follows actress Maggie Cheung (playing a fictionalized version of herself) as she navigates the screaming insecurities and general dysfunction of a French film set. Venerable auteur Rene Vidal (New Wave darling Jean-Pierre Leaud) casts her as the lead in his remake of the Louis Feuillade’s Les Vampires. However, not everyone on the production agrees with his radical casting choice, or anything else for that matter; Cheung is subjected to petty squabbles, ego clashes, and a tightly stitched black latex body suit. Assayas drew upon the avant-garde, Hong Kong action movies, and silent shorts – infusing these styles with signature rhythm and deft vision, crafting an inspired pop filmmaking masterpiece. Newly restored!

Dir. Olivier Assayas, 1996, DCP restoration, 99 min.

Screens with Man Yuk: A Portrait of Maggie Cheung
Dir. Olivier Assayas, 1997, digibeta, 5 min.