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Born: Puy-de-Dome, France, 21 August 1925.

Maurice Pialat (JPG, 18 KB)

French director, one of themost important auteurs to emerge since the New Wave. Originally a painter, Pialat worked for the stage and television, acted, and shot documentaries. He made his first cinema feature, L'Enfance nue, in 1968. This examination of deprived childhood heralded Pialat's most original period in which, in such films as La Gueule ouverte (1974), Loulou (1979) and A nos amours / To Our Loves (1983), he revealed an ethnographic concern with unglamorous aspects of French society. Pialat's potent, bleak realism combines a demanding, quasi-cinéma-vérité approach - some non-professional actors, very long takes, improvisation, colloquial language - with the reworking of personal issues such as marital breakdown. Police (1985), like Loulou starring Gérard Depardieu, was a departure towards genre, here the thriller, though sociological interest was in evidence in the (problematic) portrayal of the immigrant milieu. Subsequently, Pialat moved to literary adaptation (Sous le soleil de Satan / Under Satan's Sun (1987) and period drama (Van Gogh, 1991). Both films, though, are consistent with his focus on tortured individuals, Van Gogh especially a reflection on the "difficult" artist, a description comprehensively earned by Pialat himself. But it is in his earlier work that Pialat's cinematic power is most in evidence.

— Ginette Vincendeau, Encyclopedia of European Cinema

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