Why We Recommend it

Presented by the Hong Kong International Film Festival Society (HKIFFF), this mini movie programme screens the last two films of the late acclaimed French director Jacques Rivette, Don’t Touch the Axe a.k.a. The Duchess of Langeais and Around a Small Mountain.


The films of New Wave director Jacques Rivette (1928 – 2016) challenge questions of engagement, authenticity and improvisation. Rivette’s oeuvre–from his first short films in the 1950s, to his last feature film in 2009–testifies to his interest in experimentation and exploring alternative ways in which films can be conceived and produced.

Inspired by fellow acclaimed filmmaker Jean Renoir (1894 – 1979), Rivette exercises “a cinema which does not impose anything… where the act of filming is part of the film itself.” He frequently encouraged actors to improvise and captured long takes, unrehearsed lines and movements.

His 2007 film Don’t Touch the Axe a.k.a. The Duchess of Langeais is a 19th century chamber drama of tormented love based on the 1834 novel of the same name by French novelist Honoré de Balzac. Starring Jeanne Balibar Guillaume Depardieu, the film features a complicated duet of temptations and feints, actions and rejections, honor and rewards, that belong both to Rivette and Balzac.

His final film, Around a Small Mountain (2009) is a subtle story of exploration and healing set in the mellow world of a small European travelling circus, where two lonely people meet. Kate (Jane Birkin) returns to join her family’s traveling circus and come to terms with the death of her lover, who was killed during a circus act. When wealthy but aimless businessman Vittorio (Sergio Castellitto) meets her by accident, he finds himself drawn in by Kate and her world.



When: 7 Jan 2018 - 9 Feb 2018 Where: Various, Hong Kong