Alain Kassanda on the road, music, Africa, and “Trouble Sleep”

This week, OVID is proud to offer the exclusive streaming premiere of Alain Kassanda’s freewheeling city symphony Trouble Sleep. This film follows two young men, Fred and Akin, as they navigate the crowded roadways of Ibadan, Nigeria’s third largest city. Born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kassanda moved to France when he was eleven years old, and worked as a film programmer in Parisian cinemas for several years before becoming a filmmaker.

Recent reviews

As urgent as it is visually stunning, Vicenta explores the struggle for the right to legal and safe abortion. Through small clay figurines and live-action news clips, this documentary narrates the real human rights story of Vicenta, an illiterate working-class woman who discovers that her teenage daughter’s assault has resulted in a pregnancy. With few resources, Vicenta must now turn to the media to overcome a political and medical system that refused to help. As mass pro-choice and anti-abortion demonstrations ensue, three women join together in her fight to help Laura terminate the pregnancy. Narrated by Liliana Herrero.

Now streaming!

Jean-Pierre Melville’s first directorial effort in 1946 follows a clown and his partner, who find inspiration one day in the streets for their performance in the circus that night. Blending touches of surrealism, humor, and quotidian observation of daily life, Melville’s early short foreshadowed the irreverent charm and experimentation that would transform French cinema in the coming decades.

Now streaming!

As the spring melt floods the streets of a town outside Paris, a student (Caroline Dim) faces one obstacle after another while trying to get to the Sorbonne. After meeting up with a dashing young driver (Jean-Claude Brialy), the two set out on an irreverent journey propelled by stream-of-consciousness narration—brimming with clever wordplay and digressions from Baudelaire to the playfulness of art—as she and her newfound beau navigate flooded streets and fields.

Now streaming!

Set to a percussive, syncopated soundtrack, this early Melvin Van Peebles short is a small-scale tale of obsession, greed and violence. In a run-down neighborhood, a boy notices a 500-franc note in a sewer. His improvised efforts to pull it up through the grate fail, and when a poor young man comes along to try his luck, the boy’s jealousy leads to a series of ultimately ineffective attacks. Finally, he makes one last quixotic attempt to get his hands on…

Maurice Pialat may have grown up in the suburbs, but he has little love for them. In this poetic but critical essay film, he turns his gaze to a range of post-war Paris suburbs: From the bourgeois plots of land where the “quaint” aesthetic dominates, to massive new apartment blocks, and even shantytowns. In drawing attention to class segregation and disparity of opportunity between those who live in Paris and in the towns that ring the metropolis, Pialat crafts a bracing critique of post-war France.

Music by Georges Delerue.

Now streaming!

“Let me finish,” Jules (Jean-Paul Belmondo, voiced by Jean-Luc Godard) repeatedly tells his ex Charlotte (Anne Colette) without ever pausing long enough for her to actually say anything. While chomping on a cigar, he berates her for leaving him for someone in the movie business, raves about the stupidity of cinema, repeatedly calls her an idiot, and begs her to come back to him, promising to buy her an Alfa Romeo one day. What could have been an exercise in misogyny becomes a wry commentary on toxic masculinity and relationships, with a wonderful twist at the end.

Now streaming!

Written by Éric Rohmer and directed by Jean-Luc Godard, All Boys Are Called Patrick follows roommates Charlotte (Anne Colette) and Véronique (Nicole Berger) who share a tiny flat with a single bed. Charlotte’s taste in books ranges from Hegel to The Fate of the Immodest Blonde, while Véronique is a law student who keeps up with current events. Over the course of an afternoon, both are separately accosted by a pick-up artist named Patrick, who manages to fast-talk them into…

A nine-year-old boy’s obsession with straightening his hair elicits a tidal wave of homophobic panic. In Mariana Rondón’s tender but clear-eyed coming-of-age tale, Junior is a beautiful boy, with big brown eyes, a delicate frame, and a head of luxurious dark curls. But Junior aches to straighten those curls, to acquire a whole new look befitting his emerging fantasy image of himself as a long-haired singer. He doesn’t know yet what it means to be gay, but his hard-working mother…