Bertrand Tavernier, veteran French director of Round Midnight, dies aged 79

Acclaimed film-maker won a string of awards for a wide variety of films, including crime and film noir, as well as his celebrated film about a jazz musician

Bertrand Tavernier, the veteran French director of a host of acclaimed films including A Sunday in the Country, Round Midnight and These Foolish Things, has died aged 79. The news was announced by the Institut Lumière, the film organisation of which he was president. No cause of death was given.

Tavernier’s output was prolific: he made his directorial debut in 1974 with The Clockmaker of St Paul and worked continuously until 2013, when he released his final feature film, The French Minister. He also took in a wide variety of material, from crime and noir, to comedy, jazz and historical drama.

Born in Lyon in 1941, Tavernier was the son of magazine publisher René Tavernier, whose anti-Nazi principles would greatly influence Bertrand. Like the generation of French New Wave directors that slightly preceded him, Tavernier grew up as a film obsessive; having moved to Paris after the war, he founded his own magazine and managed to get a job as an assistant director to Jean-Pierre Melville on the 1961 film Léon Morin, Prêtre. By his own admission, he was so bad as an AD that Melville instead made him the publicist for its follow-up, Le Doulos. It was in this role that Tavernier made his first mark in the film industry, working as a publicist on a series of New Wave classics, including Jean-Luc Godard’s Contempt and Agnés Varda’s Cleo de 5 à 7. “We were the first film publicists who were film buffs – we only accepted the films we liked,” he told the Guardian in 2008.

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