Cinemalit & Fête de Colette: Chéri | Mechanics' Institute

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Cinemalit & Fête de Colette: Chéri
CinemaLit January: – La Belle Époque

Cosponsored by New York Review Books, City Lights Booksellers & Publishers & The Fromm Institute for Lifelong Learning

Friday, January 27 - Chéri 2009, 86 minutes, directed by Stephen Frears, starring Michelle Pfieffer and Rupert Friend

This CinemaLit is part of a three day celebration of the 150th birthday of France's most famous and provocative woman writer Sidonie- Gabrielle Colette (1873-1954) and the re-printing of her beloved novel Chéri and The End of Chéri (New York Review Books). This includes an online panel with internationally known translators and biographers, a performance of Colette Uncensored performed by renowned Bay Area actress Lorri Holt and CinemaLit film feature Chéri starring Michelle Pfeiffer!

Though Chéri was one of novelist Colette's major works, an English-language film adaptation didn't get made until 2009. Leá (Michelle Pfeiffer) is a retired courtesan in an affair with an eccentric younger man (Rupert Friend). Their arrangement is complicated by love, and by a passionless marriage arranged by his mother (Kathy Bates), another wealthy retired courtesan. Chéri is for grown-ups, with scenes exploring various moods of lovemaking and the ensuing emotional fallout. With a strong cast and attention to period details, director Stephen Frears (The Queen, Philomena) finely captures the ambience and social rituals of fin de siècle Paris. (Image used with permission of Miramax Films)



CinemaLit January 2023 – La Belle Époque

January at CinemaLit features three films set during La Belle Époque, the fabled era from the 1870s to World War I that saw a great fluorescence of French art and culture. Our films look at three creative giants: pioneering filmmaker Georges Méliès (Hugo on January 13), painter Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (John Huston's Moulin Rouge, on January 20), and novelist Colette (Chéri on January 27).


 Books by Colette -- Cheri and The End of Cheri, and The Pure and the Impure will be provided by City Lights Booksellers & Publishers. They will be available in the Events Office (Room 406) or onsite at the other Fête de Colette programs. Books can be paid for and picked up at the Events Office, or purchased online at City Lights Booksellers and Publishers.


Matthew Kennedy, CinemaLit’s curator, has written biographies of Marie Dressler, Joan Blondell, and Edmund Goulding. His book Roadshow! The Fall of Film Musicals in the 1960s, was the basis of a film series on Turner Classic Movies.

“I don't have a favorite film,” Matthew says. "I find that my relationships to films, actors, genres, and directors change as I change over the years. Some don't hold up. Some look more profound, as though I've caught up with their artistry. I feel that way about Garbo, Cary Grant, director John Cassavetes, and others."

“Classic films have historical context, something only time can provide,” Matt observes. “They become these great cultural artifacts, so revealing of tastes, attitudes, and assumptions.”


Mechanics Institute Members & cosponsors Free

Public $10

Register with Eventbrite below.



CinemaLit Films

Mi Members & cosponsors Free
Public $10
Register now ›
4th Floor Meeting Room
Pam Troy - 415-393-0116
Register now by using the form below or calling 415-393-0116.

Future CinemaLit Films

Feb 3 - 6:00pm

Look Back in Anger (1959) -- ONSITE at Mechanics' Institute
CinemaLit February 2023: – British New Wave

Feb 10 - 6:00pm

The Entertainer (1960) -- ONSITE at Mechanics' Institute
CinemaLit February 2023: – British New Wave

Feb 17 - 6:00pm

Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1960) -- ONSITE at Mechanics' Institute
CinemaLit February 2023: – British New Wave

Feb 24 - 6:00pm

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (1962) -- ONSITE at Mechanics' Institute
CinemaLit February 2023: – British New Wave