PARIS - French director Jacques Rivette, a secretive pioneer of convention-bashing New Wave film renowned for creating rich roles for women such as Emmanuelle Beart, has died at 87.
Rivette's films -- like many of the New Wave era -- routinely appeared at elite film festivals though didn't always enjoy commercial success.
French President Francois Hollande, in a statement Friday announcing Rivette's death, hailed him as "a cineaste of the woman." Serge Toubiana of the Cinematheque museum in Paris described Rivette's "sense of conspiracy, sense of secrecy" and the "magnificent place" he provided to women characters.
Among them were roles in an early film "La Religieuse" (The Nun), censored when it first came out in 1966; the award-winning, nearly-four-hour "La Belle Noiseuse" (The Beautiful Troublemaker) with Beart in 1991; and a 1994 version of the Joan of Arc tale called "Jeanne la Pucelle" starring Sandrine Bonnaire.
With often-tousled hair and a slight stature, Riviere was lesser known than other New Wave icons Francois Truffaut or Jean-Luc Godard. Like them, he started out as a film critic -- and was the first of the group to go on and make his own movies.
In a critique more than half a century ago in the esteemed journal Cahiers du Cinema, he observed, "There are things that should only be faced with fear and trembling; death, without a doubt, is one of them."