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Venice honours French director



VENICE, Italy -- A groundbreaking French director is to be honoured with a lifetime's achievement award at the Venice Film Festival.

Eric Rohmer, whose career has spanned 40 years, helped transform French cinema in the 1960s while winning international critical acclaim.

He first gained international attention with "Ma Nuit Chez Maud" ("My Night at Maud's") which was nominated for an Oscar for Best Screenplay in 1969 and was still achieving success in 1999 when aged 79 he directed "Conte d'Automne" ("Autumn Tale").

Other film highlights include "Le Genou de Claire" ("Claire's Knee") of 1970 won the San Sebastian film festival, and "Six Moral Tales" which portrayed men undergoing moral crises as they were tempted towards infidelity.

Of his work Rohmer says: "It is closer to a novel -- to a certain classic style of novel than to other forms of entertainment, like the theatre."

Rohmer was born Jean-Marie Maurice Scherer in Nancy, eastern France, in April, 1920. After a brief spell as a teacher he turned to writing about movies, founding La Gazette du Cinema with future "New Wave" directors Jean-Luc Godard, Francois Truffaut and Jacques Rivette in 1950.

He was later editor-in-chief of Cahiers du Cinema, the "New Wave" bible, for six years and in 1959 Rohmer made his first feature film, "Le Signe du Lion" ("The Sign of Leo").

After the early films -- which he called his literary years -- Rohmer began a second series of films under the banner "Comedies and Proverbs" which were supposed to be lighter in tone.

He began his third series of films at the age of 70, naming them after the four seasons and beginning with "Conte de Printemps" ("A Tale of Springtime").

Rohmer's biographer, Terry Ballard said: "His films never contain any obvious attention-getting devices such as violence, unusual camera angles or even musical scores. He makes films that deal with foibles and relationships of realistic if self-absorbed people."






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