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French filmmaker Éric Rohmer, 89, dies

Éric Rohmer, a former film critic who became one of France's most respected filmmakers and was internationally known for movies such as "My Night at Maud's" and "Claire's Knee," has died in Paris.

Rohmer's death was announced by his producer, Margaret Ménégoz. He was 89.

Relatives said he was hospitalized a week ago but offered no further explanation, according to Agence France-Presse. Rohmer died Monday.

A former editor of the influential French film journal Cahiers du Cinéma, Rohmer was a member of the French New Wave of filmmakers who began emerging in the late 1950s and included Jean-Luc Godard, François Truffaut, Jacques Rivette and Claude Chabrol. Rohmer, who made his first short film in 1950, was still editor of Cahiers du Cinéma when his first feature film, "The Sign of Leo," was released in 1959 to little notice.

It was not until "My Night at Maud's," an art house hit released in the United States in 1970, that Rohmer was established as a force in cinema. The film earned Oscar nominations for best foreign language film and for Rohmer's screenplay.

"My Night at Maud's" was the third installment in what Rohmer called "Six Moral Tales," a series of two shorts and four features that included "Claire's Knee" and "Chloe in the Afternoon." The series, Christian Science Monitor writer David Sterritt wrote in 2001, focused with "good-humored intensity on dilemmas of life, love, and the penchant of well-meaning people to find themselves in ethical quandaries."

Film reviewer Kevin Thomas said Monday that Rohmer, whose films were known for their long conversations between characters, "made his mark getting us to pay attention to what people said to each other." "He made adult conversation witty and, above all, cinematic," Thomas said.

Rohmer was born Jean-Marie Maurice Schérer in Nancy, France, on April 4, 1920, and grew up in Limousin. He taught literature, worked as a freelance journalist and published a novel before becoming a film critic. He also launched his own film magazine, Gazette du Cinéma, with Godard and Rivette; and collaborated with Chabrol on a book examining the films of Alfred Hitchcock. He was editor in chief of Cahiers du Cinéma from the late 1950s to 1963.

In 2001, Rohmer received a Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival for his body of work. His most recent film, "The Romance of Astrea and Celadon," was released in 2007.

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