Thursday, February 05, 2015

Films Français

Quai de O’rsay

The University of Louisville brings the French Film Festival back for its 2015 series, beginning Feb. 5 and running through March 6, at the Floyd Theater on campus. For this year’s pick, the panel of 10 experts (from the French, film and digital media studies, and humanities departments, and others from the local French alliance group) has selected five films.

All of the full-length movies offer something very different from one another, promising that those with the broadest thoughts on film will be exposed to a plethora of promising portraits. Those with more specific tastes will find something to their liking, even if not all hit the same sweet spots. There is comedy, drama, animation and documentary.

The movies will show Thursdays at 5 p.m. and 8 p.m., and 2 p.m. on Fridays. The 5 p.m. screenings will also include discussions after each screening with local experts on French film and other cultural hot topics. Tracy Heightchew is one of the driving forces behind programming series like this, through U of L’s Commonwealth Center for the Humanities and Society.

“This year, we picked some films that are pretty recent, and a couple classic films about France right after World War II,” she says. This year’s films include “Bande de filles” (aka “Girlhood”), “Ernest & Celestine,” “Quai de O’rsay” (aka “The French Minister”), “Le Joli Mai” (aka “The Lovely Month of May”) and “Tu seras mon fils” (aka “You Will Be My Son”).

“Le Joli Mai’ was directed by Chris Marker and released in 1963. The paleofuturist Marker is best known for his 1962 short “Le Jetee,” which later inspired the American movie “12 Monkeys.”

Bande de filles

For Heightchew, one important concern when selecting films for the festival was to ensure that at least one director involved was a woman. “Girlhood” director Celine Sciamma has also directed “Tomboy” and “Water Lillies.” The French title of “Girlhood” translates as “Band of Girls,” but as Heightchew notes, “That sounds like a girl gang … Even though there is violence, it’s not a ‘girl gang’ like we think of a girl gang.”

“It’s about a population of people we don’t normally see,” Heightchew says, “which is the sons and daughters of immigrants that live right outside of Paris, who have limited opportunities. You get to follow (a 16-year-old), and she’s this fabulous girl! Although actors in the film were just people on the street they picked out, it’s a beautiful movie.”

She adds, “I also like that the women are just chattering all the time: ‘chatter chatter chatter’ – and then men show up and … silence. That’s totally true!”

The French film fest also includes a wine country Shakespearean family drama, “Tu seras mon fils” (aka “You Will Be My Son”), is about “an old, crotchety man and his grapevines. He’s near the end of his life, and doesn’t think his son can take them over, so he decides another kid can do it.” It’s King Lear in France, or in modern terms, Empire on the big screen.

There’s also a political comedy, “Quai de O’rsay” (aka “The French Minister”). Heightchew calls the animated “Ernest & Celestine” “a beautiful, wonderful tale,” noting that “You can see it in English, dubbed by famous American actors – or you can watch it in French!”

It’s hard to see foreign cinema in Louisville these days, Heightchew says sadly. With Wild & Woolly Video soon joining The Vogue Theater in our memories, places like UofL’s Floyd Theater are needed now more than ever.

c. 2015 The Voice-Tribune

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