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Not too much verité please

Documentaries are playing to big audiences in French cinema; but they pale next to films by Michael Moore or Ken Loach. France cannot bear much reality.

By Tim King   February 2003

Sensuous women, seductive men, haunting music, a rhythm of life that seems perpetual holiday-French cinema has always known how to charm: as close to reality as a glossy magazine. How odd, then, that recently the cinema queues in France have been for documentary films. Michael Moore’s “Bowling for Columbine” is one, but most are French. Each has sparked debate and shown a new generation that where television promotes apathy, cinema can stimulate the brain, not just overwhelm it with special effects.

One documentary stands out: Nicolas Philibert’s “?lt;CARON>tre et Avoir” (To Be and to Have), officially selected for last year’s…

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