For 50 years, Janus Films has been the preeminent U.S. distributor of foreign and classic films that have collectively shaped the art of contemporary cinema. This fall, the Palm Springs International Film Society mines this superb collection for films that have paved the way for some of the world's greatest directors. Each screening will be accompanied by a discussion led by an expert in the field. Truffaut, Polanski, Weir, von Trier and Van Sant. Discover the films that launched these impressive careers.

Each event is free to PSIFS members, with a suggested $5 donation from the public at the door. No reservations necessary. Events will be held at the Palm Canyon Theatre (538 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs).
The following Wednesday screenings begin at 7 p.m.

October 14 :: The 400 Blows

François Truffaut

Selected Filmography: Jules and Jim, Shoot the Piano Player, Fahrenheit 451, Stolen Kisses, Day for Night, The Last Metro

Speaker: David Ansen, Newsweek film critic

Truffaut's most personal film is told through the eyes of his life-long cinematic counterpart, Antoine Doinel (Jean-Pierre Léaud). It sensitively recreates the trials of Truffaut's own difficult childhood, unsentimentally portraying aloof parents, oppressive teachers, petty crime and a friendship that would last a lifetime. The film marks Truffaut's passage from leading film critic of the French New Wave to his emergence as one of Europe's most brilliant auteurs.

October 21 :: Knife in the Water

Roman Polanski

Selected Filmography: The Pianist, Chinatown, Rosemary's Baby, Frantic, Death and the Maiden, The Ninth Gate

Speaker: James Morrison, Claremont McKenna College

A brilliant psychological thriller that many critics still consider among Polanski's greatest work. The story is simple, yet the implications of its characters' emotions and actions are profound. When a young hitchhiker joins a couple on a weekend yacht trip, psychological warfare breaks out as the two men compete for the woman's attention. With stinging dialogue and a mercilessly probing camera, Polanski creates a disturbing study of fear, humiliation, sexuality and aggression.

October 28 :: The Cars that Ate Paris

Peter Weir

Selected Filmography: The Truman Show, Dead Poets Society, Master and Commander, Witness, Picnic at Hanging Rock

Speaker: Tim Grierson, film critic

In the secluded rural town of Paris, Australia, the chief source of income is provided by the orchestration of automobile accidents which frequently claim the lives of passing tourists. Those who survive are usually subjected to bizarre brain experiments by a loony local surgeon. One such unfortunate survivor is young Arthur, who remains in Paris after his recovery to work in the hospital, unaware of the circumstances which brought him there.

November 11 :: The Element of Crime

Lars von Trier

Selected Filmography: Dancer in the Dark, Breaking the Waves, Dogville, Manderlay, The Idiots, Europa

Speaker: Peter Debruge, Associate Editor of Features at Variety

Fisher is an exiled ex-cop who returns to his old beat to catch a serial killer with a taste for young girls. Influenced equally by Hitchcock and science fiction, von Trier boldly reinvents expressionist style for his own cinematic vision of a post-apocalyptic world. Shot in shades of sepia with occasional, startling flashes of bright blue, the film combines dark mystery and operatic sweep to yield a pure celluloid nightmare.

November 18 :: Mala Noche

Gus Van Sant

Selected Filmography: Milk, Good Will Hunting, Elephant, To Die For, My Own Private Idaho, Drugstore Cowboy

Speaker: David Ehrenstein, film critic

With its low budget and lush black-and-white imagery, the film heralded an idiosyncratic, provocative new voice in American independent film and an important prelude to the New Queer Cinema of the '90s. The film evokes a world of transient workers, dead-end day-shifters, and bars and seedy apartments bathed in a profound nighttime, as it follows a romantic deadbeat with a wayward crush on a handsome Mexican immigrant.