Known as the "French Woody Allen," director Agnès Jaoui is famous for her humorous take on middle class manners and anxieties. The 48-year old is also a screenwriter, actor and singer and has won a clutch of Cesar awards including Best Supporting Actress in 1998 for her role in Same Old Song.
"I feel honored to be compared to Allen, and I have been influenced a lot by him. His works also deal with the urban lives of middle class people in a capitalist society and these films strike a very responsive chord in my heart," Jaoui told the Global Times.
And until December 19 a retrospective of Jaoui's films is being staged in Shanghai.
The event has been co-organized by the French Consulate in Shanghai and the Institute of European Film at Shanghai Normal University. In all, eight films will be screened at four different venues: the Shanghai Film Art Center (160 Xinhua Road, 6280-6088), the Institute of European Film of the Shanghai Normal University (100 Guilin Road, 6555-9981), the New Hengshan Cinema (838 Hengshan Road, 6437-7418) and also the Museum of Contemporary Art Shanghai (231 Nanjing Road West, 6327-9900).
Jaoui herself will attend, and talk at, several of the screenings where she will be accompanied by the French film director Carine Tardieu. Jaoui stars in Tardieu's latest comedy Du Vent Dans Mes Mollets (Wind in My Calves).
"People may think my films are similar to Woody Allen's, but as a female director, I also have my own viewpoint," Jaoui told the Global Times.
She explained how she commonly portrays her female characters. "I like to show their weaknesses in daily life, but I still cannot bear to give them a tragic ending," she said.
Jaoui's 2008 film, Parlez-Moi de la Pluie (Let's Talk About the Rain) in which she also starred, shows a woman juggling preoccupations with gender politics and class differences.
Her character, Agathe Villanova, returns to her provincial hometown in the South of France where she displays undisguised prejudice towards her sister's family members and servants because of their social status.
In the 2004 film, Le Role de sa Vie (The Role of Her Life) directed by François Favrat, Jaoui plays a bossy film actress, Elisabeth Becker, who competes for the affections of a gardener with her assistant Claire Rocher.
Jaoui told the Global Times that, "every woman has to play different roles in her life, such as lover, friend, wife and mother. I don't want to emphasize feminism in my works, but I dislike the confines that society places on women. For myself, I enjoy playing different roles in life and I believe the most charming women are those who can get along well playing these different roles."
Jaoui has frequently collaborated with her husband, Jean-Pierre Bacri, and the pair have worked alongside other big name directors such as Philippe Muyl and Alain Resnais.