The late writer/director Chris Marker (La jetée; Sans soleil) cast his critical gaze toward French social attitudes in the early 1960s after the Algerian War. The spring of 1962 was a hopeful season that held the elusive promise of peacetime, following years of political agitation and terrorist insurgency. For Le joi mai, the filmmakers interviewed Parisians about a wide range of topics, from dancing to racism, editing the footage into what French newspaper Paris-Presse called "a sincere, brilliant, and highly idiosyncratic essay.” The new restoration was supervised by the film’s cinematographer and codirector, Pierre Lhomme, with music by Michel Legrand and English narration by Simone Signoret.
The restoration premiered at this year's Cannes Film Festival, exactly half a century after the original won the the International Critics Prize there. Also featured at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival, Le joli mai asks "is Paris the most beautiful city in the world? One would like to see it for the first time." In its philosophical and poetic profusion, the film allows audiences that virginal vantage. - James Quandt, Toronto International Film Festival