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Tango Libre

Love, dance and the pressures of prison life make a heady cocktail in Frédéric Fonteyne’s offbeat drama starring Sergi Lopez and co-writer Anne Paulicevich.

Even if a screening is sold out, tickets are often available 30 minutes before the start of the film at the box office at each venue.

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  • Director Frédéric Fonteyne
  • Producer Patrick Quinet, Claude Waringo
  • Screenwriter Anne Paulicevich, Philippe Blasband
  • With François Damiens, Sergi Lopez, Anne Paulicevich
  • France-Belgium-Luxembourg 2012
  • 105 mins
  • Sales Films Distribution

JC (François Damiens) is a solitary prison guard who finds escape taking tango classes. He soon falls for alluring dance partner Alice (Anne Paulicevich), and things seem set for a generic mid-life romance – until JC discovers that Alice is the wife of convicted robber Fernand (Sergi Lopez), a prisoner in his charge. To JC’s confusion, she’s also close to another prisoner, and neither is happy about Alice’s extramural activities. The jealous Fernand responds by taking tango lessons from the toughest Argentinians behind bars, turning Tango Libre into an off-beat slammer pic such as you’ve never seen. Director Fonteyne (1999’s A Pornographic Affair) has crafted an intense, intelligent and affecting character piece that never quite goes where you expect. The always watchable Lopez is on top form, but the film’s real revelation is star and co-writer Paulicevich, whose Alice is tough, tender, and sometimes mesmerisingly unknowable.
Jonathan Romney

Director statement

Tango and filmmaking have something in common. They both reveal things about bodies that you wouldn’t have seen, reveal the tragicomic awkwardness of the characters, its beauty. Tragicomedy, and, even more so, comedy, is about bodies and sex. The story always revolves around that… and the absurdity, awkwardness and beauty that goes with it. Also, the stupidity, which fascinates and inspires me… and to which I feel a certain kinship. Not the stupidity that turns into violence, but the other kind, the one filled with love, the one we are guilty of because we try to make things work out. Prison is also a metaphor for the impossible nature of relationships between men and women. More than a prison film, this is a ‘visiting-room film’, a film about the place where families meet.
Frédéric Fonteyne

Director biography

Born in Brussels in 1968, he studied cinema and television filmmaking at the IAD from 1985 to 1989, and in recent years has returned there to lead workshops on screen direction. All his films boast screenplay input from Philippe Blasband. His best-known title, Une liaison pornographique, won for Nathalie Baye the Best Actress award at the Venice Film Festival in 1999. In 2007 he produced Delphine Lehericey's feature Comme à Ostende.


1988 Bon Anniversaire Sergent Bob [s]
1989 Les Vloems [s]; To Nap a Kid [s; co-d]
1993 Les Sept Péchés capitaux [ep La Modestie only]; Bob le déplorable [s]
1997 Max et Bobo
1999 Une liaison pornographique
2004 La Femme de Gilles
2012 Tango libre

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