SIFF Double Feature – Hand Made with Love In France and Tea Time
Handmade with Love In France: I don’t imagine most people know much about haute couture anymore other than the names of a few brands such as Chanel, Dior, and Hermes. Haute couture clothing is astronomically expensive because it’s all completely made by hand. (If it’s not, it ain’t couture no matter what the label says.) Behind each design house exists an army of craftspeople aside from the seamstresses. Feathers must be died and sewn, and things like embroidery, pleats, and beading must be done manually before the items are stitched together. Directed by Julie Georgia Bernard, Hand Made with Love in France details some of the French artisans working to supply the couturiers with the embellishments they need to make their garments truly special.
Bernard talks to pleat maker Gérard Lognon, artificial flower maker Bruno Legeron, and wooden hat mold carver Lorenzo Ré, as well as other craftspeople, fashion designers and executives about the changes taking place in the traditional world of French crafts. Around 63% of these businesses are likely to shut down eventually because of the lack of interest by younger generations in continuing the tradition. Many shops are being purchased and kept in business by the design labels themselves, but because the number of collections coming out is always increasing to satiate the demand of a jaded cliental, more and more output is being demanded from the skilled workers. Because many consumers know nothing about the clothing other than the name of the brand, little thought is given to the artistry it takes to make these beautiful objects.
This is a very interesting film. I make a great deal of own my clothing (I am wearing a distinctly uncouture pair of hand made pajama bottoms as I type this.) but I don’t think this movie’s appeal is limited to those who like to make things. There are a lot of interesting personalities here and while this film is very informative, it is also a lot of fun. If you are interested in clothing, watching craftspeople work, French fashion history, or grumpy old men who smoke a lot, then this is the film for you. It’s not a particularly deep dive, but it’s a really enjoyable way to learn about a way of life that is fading pretty fast.
Final Grade: B+
Hand Made with Love in France plays May 15 at the AMC Pacific Place 11, May 23 at the Lincoln Square Cinemas, and May 25 at the SIFF Cinema Egyptian.
Tea Time: Chilean filmmaker ,has made a film about her grandmother and the women she has met with monthly for tea since they graduated from high school over sixty years ago. That’s a lot of tea and conversation. Maite Atberdi and her camera crew attend one tea a year for five years, witnessing the rapid changes that such a small time period can make when one is older. Friends get ill, become widowed, lose their memories, and sometimes even die. While they all have similar backgrounds, each woman has a distinct personality and their conversations cover a wide variety of subjects: marriage, sex, religion, beauty, parents, children, twerking and emo kids. Because they’ve known each other all so long, it’s like watching a family discussion continued from month to month; they tease each other, argue, and complain about how things have or have not changed.
This is a lovely film. Rather than trying to dig out a point of view or plot, I just let the conversation wash over me while I took a moment to observe the details of someone else’s life. These women have lived for a long time and have definite opinions about everything going on in their lives. This is not an overtly political film, but there are small glimpses into class, sexism, and marital relationships that add spice to the conversations. And since we seldom see older women in the media, watching the film itself kind of feels like a radical act. Usually we get some sort of scripted look at old age; these ladies are telling it like it is. Also, the snacks these ladies prepare look off the hook delicious. A lot of care is taken by each lady (or her maid) to make the tea parties special. (I lead a sadly gluten-deprived existence – NOT by choice – and I really enjoy movies with pastries in them. Yeah, I know that’s weird.) This was just a pleasant, relaxing experience with good food and better conversation.
Final Grade: B
Tea Time plays May 17 at the AMC Pacific Place 11 and May 18 and 21 at the SIFF Cinema Uptown Festival.