Cold Water
June 7th, 2018

Cold Water [1994]

Please join Cultivate Cinema Circle and Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center as we celebrate the work of Olivier Assayas. Our first selection is a one-night screening of the brand new restoration of Cold Water [L’eau froide] [1994]. We are honored to also announce the return of “The New Cinephilia” author and LOLA Journal co-editor Girish Shambu to introduce the film.

  • Screening Date: Thursday, June 7th, 2018 | 7:00pm
  • Venue: Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center
  • Specifications: 1994 / 92 minutes / French with English subtitles / Color
  • Director(s): Olivier Assayas
  • Print: Supplied by Janus Films
  • Tickets: $8 general, $6 students & seniors, $5 members

Event Sponsors:

Venue Information:

341 Delaware Ave, Buffalo, NY 14202

TrailerSynopsisDirector BioLinks

Courtesy of the Toronto International Film Festival:

Christine and Gilles fall in love in the cultural-economic no-man’s land of suburban Paris, where the present is bleak and the future worse. Gilles’ father dominates him and “protects” him from adulthood; Chrstine’s parents are divorced and she is the battlefield between them. The two shoplift some records and, when Christine is caught, her father has her institutionalized for “emotional disturbance.” Released after a day of valium and counseling, she decides at a party to visit a friend in the country and wants Gilles to come with her. He must decide whether he is ready to grow up.

The film is set in 1972, but little has changed: recently, French youth staged massive protests about the lack of possibilities after school. But L’eau froide is about more than social malaise. Director Olivier Assayas, who has had many films shown in this Festival, takes a tough, confrontational, far-from-optimistic approach. Given the temptations—teen love, dysfunctional families—Assayas steadfastly avoids sentimentality and melodrama, instead engaging our emotions with a clear-headed approach to the material.

He keeps focus on Christine and Gilles (the two leads are astonishingly good), his constantly moving camera capturing every detail of their background. Indeed, that moving, often hand-held camera imparts a good deal of the emotional instability of the protagonists. The sound track has been as carefully created as the images, with music kept at a minimum until the party—when the young couple believes escape is possible—and then rock music of the period floods the screen.

Assayas has consistently produced work of great emotional power with a minimum of artifice. Last year’s Une nouvelle vie immediately comes to mind, but L’eau froide is, in many ways, a more courageous film, if only in its ability to chronicle unflinchingly the reality of both his own generation and the desolation of contemporary suburban youth culture. This is an important film from a major young director.

Written by Dimitri Eipides


  • Cannes Film Festival – 1994
  • Toronto International Film Festival – 1994
  • New York Film Festival – 1994
  • International Film Festival Rotterdam – 1995 – Special Mention: FIPRESCI Prize

“With Irma Vep, all of a sudden I decided that it was okay to mix genre, to mix cultures, and that movies sometimes could be experiments, that within the format of modern cinema, within the format of narrative, you could experiment by mixing elements.”

Courtesy of Festival Scope:

Olivier Assayas (born January 25, 1955) is a French film director and screenwriter. He made his debut in 1986, after directing some short films and writing for the influential film magazine Cahiers du cinéma. Assayas’s father was French director/screenwriter Jacques Rémy (1910–1981). He started his career in the industry by helping him and ghostwrote episodes for TV shows his father was working on when his health failed. Assayas’s film COLD WATER was screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 1994 Cannes Film Festival. His biggest hit to date has been IRMA VEP, starring Hong Kong star Maggie Cheung, which is a tribute both to French director Louis Feuillade and to Hong Kong cinema. While working at Cahiers du cinéma, Assayas wrote lovingly about European film directors he admired but also about Asian directors. One of his latest films is a documentary about Taiwanese filmmaker Hou Hsiao-Hsien. He married Hong Kong movie actress Maggie Cheung in 1998. They divorced in 2001, but their relationship remained amicable, and in 2004 Cheung made her award-winning movie CLEAN with him. He then married actress-director Mia Hansen-Løve. They met when Hansen-Løve, seventeen at the time, starred in Assayas’s 1998 feature LATE AUGUST, EARLY SEPTEMBER. He directed and co-wrote the acclaimed 2010 French television miniseries CARLOS, about the life of the terrorist Ilich Ramírez Sánchez. The actor Édgar Ramírez won the César Award for Most Promising Actor in 2011 for his performance as Carlos. In April 2011, it was announced that he would be a member of the jury for the main competition at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival. His 2012 film, SOMETHING IN THE AIR, was selected to compete for the Golden Lion at the 69th Venice IFF. Assayas won the Osella for Best Screenplay at Venice. His next two film, CLOUDS OF SILS MARIA (2013) and PERSONAL SHOPPER (2016) both played in the official competition at Cannes.


  • Wasp Network (2019)
  • Non-Fiction (2018)
  • Personal Shopper (2016)
  • Clouds of Sils Maria (2014)
  • Something in the Air (2012)
  • Carlos (2010)
  • Summer Hours (2008)
  • Eldorado (2008)
  • Stockhausen/Preljocaj Dialogue (2007)
  • Boarding Gate (2007)
  • Noise (2006)
  • Paris, je t’aime (2006) (segment “Quartier des Enfants Rouges”)
  • Clean (2004)
  • Demonlover (2002)
  • Les Destinées (2000)
  • Late August, Early September (1998)
  • Irma Vep (1996)
  • Cold Water (1994)
  • A New Life (1993)
  • Paris Awakens (1991)
  • Winter’s Child (1989)
  • Disorder (1986)

Here is a curated selection of links shared on our Facebook page for additional insight/information:

  • 5/17/18 – “The beautiful and heartbreaking plot culminates in a party at and around a country house, and Assayas’s sustained treatment of this event—the raging bonfire, the dope, the music and dancing—truly catches you by the throat. The drifting, circling handheld camera of Irma Vep is equally in evidence here, moving among characters with the nervous energy of a moth, showing us their isolation as well as their moments of union. One of the key French films of the 90s.” Jonathan Rosenbaum, The Chicago Reader – link
  • 6/3/18 – “…in his own films Assayas — absent any Pollyanna-ish optimism — allows room for movement, change, spontaneity, moment-to-moment invention. Invoking the most famous lyric of ‘Me and Bobby McGee’ — which Assayas pointedly replays over the closing credits of Cold Water — Michael Koresky notes that “‘Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose’ might provide the basis for Assayas’ cinema.”” – Girish Shambu, TIFF – link

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