Duras (who was born Marguerite Donnadieu, but later took the name of her adopted town) began to establish herself as a filmmaker in the late 1950s, but "Murder" picks up two decades later with her picturesque 1972 movie about everyday life, Nathalie Granger. It's a story about two women and a child, Nathalie, who becomes worrisome to the women when she abandons her piano lessons and garners a rep as a violent presence at her school. Nathalie also offers an unexpected bonus: It includes a young Gérard Depardieu playing an amusingly ineffective washing machine salesman.
Next up is Duras' 1975 India Song, a more accomplished film known for, among other things, its experimental employment of third-person, off-screen narration. Set in the 1930s during monsoon season in India, the movie begins by recounting the story of a Laotian-born beggar girl along the Ganges River, but then it abruptly changes gears, dropping us into a searing love story that takes place amid the luxurious life of the colonial elite in India. In Duras' tradition of commingling political and romantic aching, a diplomat's wife complaining of "colonial sickness" wrestles uncomfortably with her wealthy woman's conscience.
Also shown are Duras' last feature, Les Enfants (1982), in which a 7-year-old boy -- played by an adult -- questions what he's being taught; her short Cesarée, from 1979, which shifts from the streets of Palestine to the monuments of Paris; and 1981's L'Homme Atlantique, which explores darkness via a collage of existing cinematic material. The Duras fest offers an opportunity to get inside the brazen artist's head, too -- the hourlong Marguerite, A Reflection of Herself is a 2002 biographical sojourn that begins during the filmmaker's French-Asian childhood and recounts her long life of passion, war, and art.