Film + Q&A
Almayer’s Folly

La folie Almayer

Post-Screening Q&A: Actor Stanislas Merhar in conversation with film critic Nicholas Elliott

Friday, March 6, 2020
FIAF Florence Gould Hall

One of the year’s most hypnotic and fascinating films …” — Village Voice

Dir. Chantal Akerman, 2011, 127 min, 35mm
With Stanislas Merhar, Marc Barbé, Aurora Marion
In English and French with English subtitles

Based on Joseph Conrad’s first novel, Akerman updates the story of a Dutch trader living in Malaysia from the 1890s to the 1950s, giving new relevance to this tale of cultural conflict, desire, and despair.

Having married the adopted Malay daughter of the wealthy Captain Lingard in order to obtain an inheritance that has failed to materialize, Almayer has become isolated and bitter, trapped in his remote trading post, and investing all his emotional energy in his own beloved daughter, Nina. But, haunted by feelings of racial and cultural alienation and harboring hatred towards her father, Nina has no intention of providing him with comfort or companionship.

  • About Stanislas Merhar
    • A close collaborator of Chantal Akerman, Stanislas Merhar starred in her films The Captive (2000) and Almayer’s Folly (2011). Merhar was discovered by Dominique Besnehard in 1996 during an open casting call. Though he had no prior acting experience, he was chosen by Anne Fontaine to play Loïc in Dry Cleaning (1997), a role that earned him the following year’s César Award for Most Promising Actor and launched his career. He appeared in Jean-Claude Brisseau’s Workers for the Good Lord (2000), Manoel de Oliveira’s The Letter (1999), and Benoit Jacquot’s Adolphe (2002). He made his stage debut in 2007 in Florian Zeller’s L’Autre and went on to appear in Amanda Sthers’s Le Lien, which ran in Paris and was featured at the Avignon Festival. In 2015, he starred in Philippe Garrel’s In the Shadow of Women. Merhar has also appeared in a number of arthouse films and television programs. In 2008, he published his memoir Petits Poisons (Fayard), a bittersweet evocation of his late father. In 2012, he was appointed a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by Frédéric Mitterand.

  • About Nicholas Elliott
    • Nicholas Elliott is a programmer for the Locarno Film Festival and the long-time American correspondent for Cahiers du Cinéma in New York. His writing on Chantal Akerman has appeared in Cahiers du Cinéma, BOMB, and the 2014 collective monograph “Chantal Akerman” published by Bande(s) à part/Magic Cinéma. In 2016, he accompanied a retrospective of Chantal Akerman’s films to Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto, presenting selected works in the context of events organized by Cahiers du Cinéma and the French Institute in Japan. His writing on film has also appeared in Film Comment, The Criterion Collection, and collective volumes on Philippe Garrel and Ryusuke Hamaguchi. Photo © Michela Di Savino