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When Bertrand Tavernier made his crisp 1974 feature debut, The Clockmaker (at 3 p.m. Sunday, April 3, and 6:30 p.m. Thursday, April 7), he pointedly entrusted the script to Jean Aureneche and Pierre Bost, members of the cinematic old guard once rejected by the nouvelle vague. Choosing such collaborators was but one of the reasons that Tavernier was typed as a neoclassicist; his work also tended to be detached, elegant, and historical. Seven of the 12 films in this retrospective are period pieces, including two set during World War I: the meditative Life and Nothing But (at 8:50 p.m. Friday, April 1, and 1 p.m. Saturday, April 2) and the fierce Captain Conan (at 4:20 p.m. Friday, April 1, and 3:40 p.m. Saturday, April 2). The director’s stately movies can be great, but his discovery of a more freewheeling approach hasn’t hurt. Two ’90s movies made in a headlong, documentarylike style are among his best: L.627 (at 9:05 p.m. Sunday, April 3, and 6:20 p.m. Tuesday, April 5) and It All Starts Today (at 6:30 p.m. Friday, April 1, and 6:10 p.m. Saturday, April 2) offer riveting insider views of very different bureaucracies—a big-city drug squad and a small-town nursery school, respectively. The series culminates with Tavernier’s appearance at a screening of his latest film, Holy Lola (at 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 15), the saga of a French couple that travels to Cambodia to adopt a baby. The series opens Friday, April 1, and runs through Monday, April 18, at the American Film Institute’s Silver Theatre and Cultural Center, 8633 Colesville Road, Silver Spring. $8.50. (301) 495-6700. (Mark Jenkins)