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Arnolfini - est 1961

Celebrating one of the twentieth century’s greatest film artists, Jacques Tati.

Jacques Tati, byname of Jacques Tatischeff, (born October 9, 1908, Le Pecq, France—died November 5, 1982, Paris), French filmmaker and actor who gained renown for his comic films that portrayed people in conflict with the mechanized modern world. He wrote and starred in all six of the feature films that he directed; in four of them he played the role of Monsieur Hulot, a lanky pipe-smoking fellow with a quizzical innocent nature. He was regarded as among the most innovative and influential comic filmmakers of the 20th century.

Mon Oncle (1958)

Film screening with introduction

11:15am to 1.30pm

Slapstick prevails when Jacques Tati’s hero Monsieur Hulot is set loose in Villa Arpel, the geometric, oppressively ultramodern home of his brother-in-law in the suburbs of Paris.

Young Gérard Arpel is very fond of his gauche uncle and the children in his neighbourhood but his disapproving parents resolve to get Hulot a job or a wife. The disastrous outcome is a masterpiece of design and symmetry and of technically brilliant gags.

The heart-warming ending is true to Tati’s vision of the modern world as a confusing place that is ultimately full of charm and humanity.

Jaques Tati’s multi-award-winning third feature, Mon Oncle, is his first colour film and is a supremely amusing satire of mechanised living and consumer society that earned the director the Academy Award for best foreign-language film.

With specially recorded onscreen introduction from film historian and archivist Serge Bromberg.

Director: Jacques Tati

Starring: Jacques Tati, Jean-Pierre Zola, Adrienne Servantie, Alain Bécourt

U / France / 117 mins

Playtime (1967)

Film screening and discussion

2:30pm to 5.15pm

Jacques Tati’s gloriously choreographed, nearly wordless comedies about confusion in an age of high technology reached their apotheosis with his 1967 film Playtime.

For this monumental achievement, a nearly three-year-long, bank-breaking production, Tati again thrust the lovably old-fashioned Monsieur Hulot, along with a host of other lost souls, into a baffling modern Parisian world.

With every inch of its super wide frame crammed with hilarity and inventiveness, Playtime is a lasting record of a modern era tiptoeing on the edge of oblivion.

Introduced by Matthew Sweet (BBC Radio 3’s Free Thinking). Following the screening, Sweet, Catherine Wheatley (King’s College London) and Bristol Ideas director Andrew Kelly will discuss Tati’s legacy.

Director: Jacques Tati
Starring: Jacques Tati, Barbara Dennek, Jacqueline Lecomte, Valérie Camille

U / France / 124 mins

Matthew Sweet is author of Inventing the Victorians, Shepperton Babylon, The West End Front and Operation Chaos. He presents Free Thinking and Sound of Cinema on BBC Radio 3 and The Philosopher’s Arms on BBC Radio 4. He has judged the Costa Book Award, edited The Woman in White for Penguin Classics and was Series Consultant on the Showtime/Sky Atlantic series Penny Dreadful. His fashion history column, The Line of Beauty, appears in 1843 magazine. Follow him on Twitter @DrMatthewSweet

Catherine Wheatley is Senior Lecturer in Film Studies at King’s College London. She is the author of Stanley Cavell and Film: Scepticism and Self-Reliance at the Cinema (2019), Michael Haneke’s Cinema: The Ethic of the Image (2009), and Caché (2011). With Lucy Mazdon, she co-authored Sex, Art and Cinephilia: French Cinema in Britain (2013) and co-edited Je t’aime, moi non plus: Anglo-French Cinematic Relations (2010). Before joining King’s in 2011, she worked as a Research Associate on a four-year AHRC project based out of Southampton University, looking at the history of French cinema in Britain, and then as a Lecturer in Screen and Media Studies at the University of East London. Follow her on Twitter @CateWheatley

Trafic (1971)

Film screening with Introduction

6.30pm to 8.10pm

Overlooked by many, Tati’s Trafic sees the bumbling Monsieur Hulot, kitted out as always with tan raincoat, beaten brown hat and umbrella, take to Paris’s highways and byways.

In this, his final outing, Hulot is employed as an auto company’s director of design, and accompanies his new product (a ‘camping car’ outfitted with absurd gadgetry) to an auto show in Amsterdam. Naturally, the road there is paved with modern-age mishaps.

This late-career delight is a masterful demonstration of the comic genius’s expert timing and side-splitting knack for visual gags, and a bemused last look at technology run amok.

With an introduction from Catherine Wheatley, Senior Lecturer in Film Studies at King’s College London.

Director: Jacques Tati
Starring: Jacques Tati, Tony Knepper, Franco Ressel, Mario Zanuelli
PG / France / 96 mins


Tati Day is part of Opening Up the Magic Box, a heritage element of Film 2021 which marks the centenary of the death of Bristol-born film pioneer William Friese-Greene and the 125th anniversary of the first public cinema screening in Bristol, which took place at the Tivoli on 8 June 1896, as well as celebrating Bristol – a UNESCO City of Film since 2017. It is generously funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Tati Day is presented by Slapstick Festival, Bristol Ideas, South West Silents and Arnolfini, as part of Future Film Festival