Comme excitant! Le dixième festival de film français annuel est finalement ici! Translation: How exciting! The 10th annual French Film Festival is finally here! (But never fear, there will be subtitles.)
The College of Charleston French Film Fest kicks off its tenth anniversary on Thurs., Aug. 27 with an opening reception at the Sottile hosted by Rue de Jean (délicieux!) from 6:30-7:30 p.m. The festival began in 1998 after two students came across a grant issued for the promotion of French and Francophile cinema across American campuses. After two months of struggling to find a venue and dealing with shaky projectors, the students, along with French Professor Anna Ballinger, were finally able to introduce contemporary French cinema to the public. The festival has since grown in prestige and is now housed at the Sottile Theatre on George Street. Ballinger continues to organize the festival today, which draws film aficionados from around town and the state in addition to students and faculty.
The festival “brings a different perspective to the campus, so the students have an open horizon and a different view of the world than we see here,” says Ballinger. In this respect, the festival is not limited strictly to French cinema, but screens films from all over the French-speaking world. While foreign cinema is undoubtedly artistically intriguing, it also serves to show the similarities between national and international issues. This year the festival will be screening Home by French director Arthus Bertrand, which addresses rising environmental concerns and human impact on the natural world. The film will be followed by a panel discussion featuring Burton Callicott, chair of the CofC Sustainability Committee, and Ellerbe Dargan, Associate Director of Philanthropy at The Nature Conservancy.
Many of the films screening this year have been awarded for their génie and cover a myriad of genres, from animation to documentary to romantic comedy. If you’re tired of the endless super hero, action-fueled, and special effects films that seemed to have plagued American cinema, this is your chance to see some flicks worth your while. Tickets are free for CofC students, and $5 for everyone else.
Schedule as Follows:
Summer Hours (L’Heure d’été) - Olivier Assaya. Thursday, 7:30 p.m.
Summer Hours tells the story of a family coming together after the death of their debonair mother, who was the guardian of a beautiful country estate left to her by her famous French painter-lover and a much admired matriarch. Her children, Adrienne (the beloved Juliette Binoche), Jeremie, and Frederic are forced to put their divergent lives on hold in order to assess her treasured belongings, which prove to hold a wealth of memories. The film examines the power and value of memory, and the potential for the present to wipe it all away.
The Class (Entre Les Murs) - Laurent Cantet. Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Filmed in a documentary style, The Class tells the story of a high school teacher, Mr. Marin, and his struggles with his students in an unruly Parisian neighborhood. While the students can be amusing, the discord between their attitudes and background causes conflict within the classroom, and at times, undermines Mr. Marin’s motivation. The style of the film and Marin’s candor come together to create an authentic and genuine portrait of a high school teacher in a large city, proving that while the diversity of cultures and ideas in a classroom may present challenges, they are ultimately gratifying.
Mia and the Migoo (Mia et le Migou) - Jacques-Remy Girerd (Animated). Saturday, 11:30 a.m.
When Mia’s father disappears after being trapped in a tunnel while working to build an extravagant hotel complex, she decides to go rescue him, but first must cross a cursed forest. Here she encounters a mysterious creature, the Migoo, who teaches her about a sacred tree necessary to preserve all life on earth, which the evil hotel developer is threatening to cut down. Together, along with developer’s son, Alden, they embark on an adventure to rescue Mia’s father and save the earth from an ecological catastrophe.
Home - Arthus Bertrand. Saturday, 2 p.m.
Home uses the cinematic magic of the camera to capture the vast and varied beauty that is planet earth, and urges us to be active in its preservation. Bertrand brings us aerial footage from just over fifty countries and imparts both his curiosity and growing concern for the human race’s drastic impact on the natural world, ultimately giving a call to action for humans to work towards solutions before it’s too late.
The Beaches of Agnes (Les plages d’Agnès) - Agnes Varda. Saturday, 7 p.m.
Famed French director Agnes Varda's inventive autobiographical film about her youth, life as a director, and time with her family and husband (French director Jacques Demy). Varda tells her story in a way that is as unique and unorthodox as herself, complete with a set of mirrors on the beach as a metaphor for her life relationships, an ocean-side circus act, the recreation of her office on a fake beach in Rue Daguerre, and a solo voyage on her sailboat from Sete to Paris.
Chloe from 5 to 7 (Cléo de 5 à 7) - Agnes Varda. Saturday, 9:30 p.m.
The second film from director Agnes Varda, Cleo from 5 to 7 follows a French singer, Cleo for two hours as she awaits the results of a biopsy from her doctor. Fearing that she may be diagnosed with cancer, Cleo wanders around town encountering various friends and strangers as she tries to confront the question of her own morality.
Ballerina - Bertrand Normand. Sunday, 2 p.m.
After an enchanting visit to St. Petersburg, filmmaker Betrand Normand became fascinated with the demanding lives of Russian ballerinas. Ballerina is a documentary chronicling the lives of three prima ballerinas, Svetlana Zakharova, Ulyana Lopatkina and Diana Vishneva, as well as two new members of Russia’s renowned ballet troupe, the Kirov, and the harsh physical demands and strict scrutiny under which they work.
Shall We Kiss (Un Baiser S’il Vous Plaît) - Emmanuel Mouret. Sunday, 7:30 p.m.
Like the American film favorite Woody Allen, Mouret both directs and plays one of the lead roles in his clever romantic comedy about physical temptation and its ramifications. After Gabriel offers Emilie a ride, the two spend the evening talking and laughing until Emilie refuses a kiss from Gabriel. Emilie then dives into a story comprised of flashbacks, which becomes the body of the film, about how falling subject to one’s temptations will result in avoidable consequences.