Michel Gondry to Teach a Masterclass at Fordham


Film Director Michel Gondry is featured above. (LIONEL HAHN/ABACA PRESS VIA TNS)


Known for his quirky and ingenious visual style, French film director Michel Gondry will give a master class before screening his newest film “Microbe and Gasoline” at the New York Film Festival. The masterclass will be held on Monday, Oct. 5 from 5:00-6:30p.m. in the Law School, room 4-01.

Beginning as a music video director, Gondry has worked with many icons including Bjork, Paul McCartney, The White Stripes, Kanye West and The Rolling Stones. The Academy Award-winning director has also brought to screen “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” and “Be Kind Rewind,” which are high-rated films with cult followings,  among several others. 

This masterclass was arranged in partnership with UniFrance, a French cultural service organization aimed at promoting French cinema abroad. Last spring, Fordham held an event with UniFrance who reached out to the French Department about hosting the masterclass this fall. Assistant professor of French studies, Audrey Evrard, contacted the communication and media studies department seeking to hold a collaborative event. With the help of Artist-in-Residence James Jennewein, who specializes in screenwriting, this event will bring together the French and Media Studies departments.

“Michel Gondry is not typical of French cinema and not typical of American cinema. He has his own unique style,” Evrard explained.

“Hollywood films tend to be a little more formulaic. They follow more generic conventions where you can easily recognize a comedy or action film with a hero and a resolution. Whereas French cinema doesn’t really have an ending. There’s no need for a resolution because they’re more character driven…The spectrum for French film is very wide and Gondry kind of navigates his way around.”

Evrard also explained Gondry’s deviation from the direction films have been moving towards. “You can’t find very many directors in contemporary cinema that create a very artisanal visual environment—it’s now much more technology-driven. With him he’s very into all the details and the image. When you look at his more recent films, he works a lot on the details and little objects that seem to have no purpose yet makes sense in the world he creates,” Evrard said.

The craft approach to Gondry’s scenes with much attention to small details paints zany worlds where the audience gets to see characters in a more intimate and unique light. This approach fuses many creative techniques to play on the aesthetics of a scene. Furthermore, it invites the audience to take a more interactive role as a viewer present in the world created on screen.

Gondry’s momentum is part of a greater movement towards cross-cultural cinema.

“In the last few years you see more and more French actors and actresses starring in Hollywood movies. There are also more French filmmakers working with American actors,” Evrard said. For example, the French actress Mélanie Laurent starred in American director Peter Docter’s  animated film, “Inside Out” in 2015.

“It’s also becoming very common for French-Canadian filmmakers. You can see the field is becoming more and more international,” Evrard explained. 

Evrard hopes he will “invite Fordham students to look at films and the world around them through a very refreshing and surprising way.”