Though practically unknown in the United States, Jean-Claude Biette is considered by a small coterie of contemporary filmmakers and critics to be the most significant French director of the post-New Wave era. A former assistant to Pasolini, an influential Cahiers du Cinéma critic, and a lifelong friend to Serge Daney, Biette struggled to get his films produced because he was skeptical of screenplays and the bureaucracy of arts funding. Yet his first feature Le Théâtre des Matières is alive in a way that feels neither slapdash nor improvised as it follows the trials and tribulations of a small theater company operating on the margins of the Parisian establishment in the late ’70s. Displaying Biette’s taste for offbeat casting and narrative riddles, his knack for creating mysterious atmospheres in the vein of Jacques Tourneur, and an eye for framing as rigorous as his master Fritz Lang’s, Le Théâtre des Matières joins Marie-Claude Treilhou’s revelatory Simone Barbès, or Virtue and the handful of other films produced by Paul Vecchiali’s Diagonale in forming what writer-director Axelle Ropert has called “a clandestine history of French cinema, and certainly one of its most beautiful.”