French Film Festival Returns to Campus
Audrey Werth ’11
She’s written books about French food and national identity, taught seminars on 17th-century French literature, appeared in a French TV documentary about the French fry, and created an entire course devoted to French food. And two years ago Maryann Tebben, Emily Fisher Faculty Fellow and faculty in languages and literature, brought the Tournées French Film Festival to campus.
The festival was so successful last year she decided to bring it back again this year. “I've wanted to apply for this grant for a while but never had the time to put into [writing the grant but also organizing all of the screenings],” says Maryann. “The Faculty Fellow position gave me the time and motivation to do it, with the opening of Liebowitz and the push for international programming and globalizing the campus.”
The Simon's Rock Tournées Film Festival is sponsored by a grant from the French American Cultural Exchange. The goal is to spread contemporary French film to American colleges and universities. Over 400 schools applied for a grant and the rights to screen films on campuses. To qualify, schools must screen a minimum of five films within a one-month period and advertise the festival on campus and to the larger community.
Organizers must first choose a theme for the festival. They also agree to hold discussions after each screening. For Maryann, it’s a good way to get students involved, help them make a connection with a larger community, and a way to connect Bard College at Simon's Rock to the Berkshires and the film community. "This year we are thrilled to welcome the Berkshire International Film Festival as co-sponsors, along with the Division of Languages and Literature,” adds Maryann. “BIFF gives us greater exposure to the local film community and we’re thankful for that.”
Maryann chose “En Province: Life Outside of Paris” as the theme for the festival and the films she chose depict life in the towns and cities throughout France with the exception of Paris.
Beginning February 27, the selection of recent French films will air in the Lecture Center. The lineup includes 17 Filles / 17 Girls, Dans la ville de Sylvia / In the City of Sylvia, Non, ma fille tu n'iras pas danser/ Making Plans with Lena, Le Havre, and Le gamin au vélo / The Kid with a Bike.
“Since most people think of Paris when they think of France, I wanted to give a wider view of the French people and the French ethos,” Maryann explains. “These films variously represent small-town life (17 Girls), the visual elements of a typical French city (In the City of Sylvia), or a city that most people will not know well (Le Havre).”
17 Filles is based on an actual event in Massachusetts, the film is placed in a small town in France. Seventeen high school girls decide to get pregnant and raise their children together. It was nominated for the Golden Camera in the 2011 Cannes Film Festival. “I think it's going to provoke discussion,” says Maryann. “The interesting question is why would a French filmmaker choose to make a film about this?”
“Last year's festival was “Lingua Franca: French in the World", consciously about French language outside the French borders. This year, I tried to focus on the France that is inside the hexagon [the European mainland of France], with the exception of the Belgian film "The Kid with a Bike". It’s set in an unnamed Belgium town that could be provincial France, plus … it got tremendously positive reviews and I thought it would bring a crowd.”
Last year, the film festival drew not only French students but also viewers from the community and campus interested in film, France, or just enjoying an evening out. Everyone is welcome to come for fun. French students start the evening with an introduction to the movie. Each movie offers its own experience and they are always free. The festival is a good chance for those interested in film to see important French films, students can enrich their understanding of French, and many other members of the Simon's Rock community have the opportunity to spend a Wednesday doing something different and enriching.
For more detailed descriptions, trailers, and show times for of each of the five films visit the College campus guides.