The 1973 film Cousin Jules
was considered French documentarian Dominique Benicheti
's masterpiece, yet for decades it was impossible to see. Made over five years, the film does exactly what it says on the tin: depicts the everyday life of Benicheti's cousin, Jules, an elderly, rural blacksmith.
Despite the accolades for Cousin Jules
upon its release, the film failed to find a distributor, in part because it was — and is still — difficult to categorize. More "poetic" than most cinéma vérité films, and verging somewhat into the territory of experimental cinema, Cousin Jules
, for all its critical favor, wound up nearly forgotten. (Benicheti's insistence that it be screened only in CinemaScope with stereo sound — an unfamiliar exhibition format for most documentaries — surely complicated matters.)
died in 2011 while in the process of restoring the film; the task was taken up by other archivists
, and Cousin Jules
made its debut at the 2012 New York Film Festival.
This week, it will have its Vermont premiere at Main Street Landing in Burlington; the event is sponsored by the Burlington Film Society and Vermont International Film Foundation
Local cinephiles now have a rare chance to see this unusual and acclaimed film in a restored print, in its original aspect ratio and with stereo sound, as the late director intended.
Cousin Jules (Trailer) from Cinema Guild on Vimeo.Cousin Jules
screens at the Film House at Main Street Landing in Burlington on Thursday, April 17, 7 p.m. Reception preceding the film at 6 p.m. features charcuterie from Guild Fine Meats. $8/$5 students/free for VTIFF members.