Alain Guiraudie has long been one of French cinema’s most singular voices. Openly gay, drawn to rural, working-class life, and a true regionalist (who typically works in and around his home region of Aveyron in the south), he is an outsider in almost every sense. Many of his films—including his 2001 breakthrough That Old Dream That Moves, lauded by Jean-Luc Godard as the best film at Cannes that year—are sui generis, shape-shifting tales, anchored equally in unknowable mysteries of desire and concrete facts of social life.

Underappreciated for many years—none of his earlier films have been distributed in the U.S.—Guiraudie scored an all but unanimous critical hit with his latest feature, Stranger by the Lake, a provocative tale of sex and death set entirely outdoors, in the vicinity of a gay cruising ground. (It won the best director prize in the Un Certain Regard section at Cannes last year.) On the occasion of the film’s U.S. opening at Film Society of Lincoln Center, we present a complete, two-decade-spanning survey of this essential filmmaker’s rarely seen work, including all his short, medium-length, and feature films.

This retrospective was supported in part by the the Cultural Services of the French Embassy, NYC; The Institut Français, Paris; and Unifrance Films.