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FACE Festival 2013

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The Tournées Festival is a program of FACE (French American Cultural Exchange), in partnership with the Cultural Services of the French Embassy, which aims to bring contemporary French cinema to American college and university campuses. The program distributes close to $200,000 in grants annually to encourage schools to begin their own self-sustaining French film festivals. Now in its 17th year, The Tournées Festival has partnered with more than 400 universities, making it possible for more than 500,000 students to discover French-language films.

We are pleased to offer a wide variety of films that represent the best of contemporary French cinema. The films span generational and geographic borders, offer a range of genres and subjects, and showcase innovations in both style and storytelling. There are films by first-time directors alongside those from respected and revered figures in French cinema.

The Tournées Festival is made possible with the generous support of:
Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the U.S., Centre National du Cinéma et de l’Image Animée, Florence Gould Foundation, CampusFrance, and highbrow entertainment.

This year's films

17 Filles/17 Girls, February 27, 7:00 p.m., Lecture Center
17-filles.jpgInspired by the true story of high-school students in a Massachusetts fishing town who made a pact to get pregnant and raise their babies together, 17 Girls, set in a French seaside village, intelligently examines, but never judges, the motivations of its adolescent protagonists. In their first film, sisters Delphine and Muriel Coulin explore the dynamics of a clique of girls led by Camille, who announces to her classmates during gym class that she’s expecting a baby. The members of her inner circle (and those who’d like to be part of this select group) announce that they will get pregnant, too, in solidarity. Their promise may be inspired by childish wishes for popularity, quasi-feminist, utopian notions of “sisterhood,” or by the desire to feel that something beyond the humdrum is possible for them in their small, dead-end town. Yet 17 Girls isn’t interested in providing answers to what ultimately can’t be explained; instead of making sociological pronouncements, the film more intriguingly observes the teenagers’ often contradictory concepts of freedom, the future, parenthood, and autonomy.

Dans la ville de Sylvia / In the City of Sylvia, March 06, 7:00 p.m., Lecture Center
villedesylvia.jpgJosé Luis Guerín’s mysterious, enthralling film unfolds with the simplest of premises. An anonymous young man returns to the unnamed French city where he first saw, six years ago, a beautiful woman named Sylvia. He sits in a café, where he people-watches, eavesdrops, and occasionally sketches in his notebook. Spotting a woman he’s convinced is Sylvia, he follows her; she finally tells him she’s not the one he’s searching for. But the seeker is not to be deterred: The next day, he continues his ritual of café-visiting, wandering around, and looking. Though its plot may be minimal, In the City of Sylvia is a film filled with intriguing ideas about the act of looking, memory, time, dreams, and desires. In other words, it is a movie about the very power of cinema itself, which requires us to gaze intently, listen, lose ourselves in reverie, and always search for patterns of recognition.

Non ma fille tu n'iras pas danser /Making Plans for Lena, March 10, 7:00 p.m., Lecture Center
nonmafille.jpgChiara Mastroianni, the daughter of Catherine Deneuve and Marcello Mastroianni, steps out of the shadows of her famous parents with her superlative lead performance in Christophe Honoré’s trenchant look at family ties. In her mid-30s, Léna, a recently divorced mother, takes her two young children to her parents’ vacation home in Brittany. While there, she is constantly under attack from her siblings and mother and father—a tense situation that isn’t made any easier when Léna’s ex-husband, for whom she still has strong feelings, shows up. In the throes of an emotional meltdown, Léna insists that all she wants is her freedom; thanks to Mastroianni’s multifaceted portrayal of this troubled character and Honoré’s empathetic treatment, that’s all we want for her, too. Struggling to find her balance while she sinks deeper into despair, Léna finds a parallel of sorts to her crises in a Breton folk tale that her son has just read. Magically interrupting the main narrative at the midpoint, Honoré dramatizes this fairy tale, about an independent young woman who dances all of her would-be spouses to death. After this interlude concludes, Léna is back in Paris with her kids, where her harried life is filled with tests of stamina similar to the folk heroine’s.

Le Havre, March 13, 7:00 p.m., Lecture Center
lehavre.jpgA wonderful celebration of France’s national motto—liberty, equality, fraternity—Aki Kaurismäki’s Le Havre is also something of a paean to World War II Resistance dramas. Told in Kaurismäki’s signature deadpan style, Le Havre centers around Marcel Marx, a once-famous Parisian writer now making his living shining shoes in the northern port town of the title. Marcel divides his time between drinking with his neighbors at the local bar and caring for his ill wife, Arletty —her name a tribute to the great French actress who made her best-known films in the 1930s and ’40s. But he soon serves a much nobler purpose when he comes to the aid of Idrissa, a young illegal immigrant from Gabon who is trying to join his family in England. Aided by his neighbors, Marcel keeps Idrissa safe from the clutches of the detective who comes looking for him. A film that reminds us of the importance of unsung heroes, Le Havre also highlights a most unlikely, and touching, friendship.

Le Gamin au Vélo / The Kid with a Bike, March 20, 7:00 p.m., Lecture Center
gamin-au-velo.jpgJean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne’s sublime tale of love and redemption begins with an 11-year-old boy in frantic, desperate motion. Refusing to acknowledge that he’s been abandoned by his father, Cyril escapes the children’s home where he’s been living, hoping to be reunited with his dad—and to find his lost bicycle. He returns to the apartment complex where they once lived, only to find a deserted flat. As the authorities from the children’s home catch up with him and try to bring him back, Cyril, refusing to return, tightly grips a total stranger, a kind, patient woman named Samantha, who will prove to be the heartbroken boy’s savior. Samantha becomes the parent that Cyril so desperately needs, one who will soothe him during his rages and help him cope with the devastating news that his father never wants to see him again.