Tournées French Film Festival
The Artist - Wednesday, September 19, 7:00 p.m.
Introduction by Shira Malkin, Associate professor of Modern Languages and Literatures
Best Motion Picture; Best Director – Academy Awards (2012), Best Actor, Jean Dujardin – Cannes Film Festival (2011), Best Actress, Bérénice Bejo – César Awards (2012)
A delightful homage to silent-era Hollywood, Michel Hazanavicius’s mostly silent film, opens in 1927, when preening matinee idol George Valentin, is still the top draw at Kinograph Studios. Ignoring the increasingly icy glares his wife aims at him across the breakfast table, George acts as a mentor to Peppy Miller, a chorus girl with big ambitions. The Artist tracks both Peppy’s ascent (through amusing montage) and George’s decline as he refuses to acknowledge synchronized-sound as more than a passing fad. The movie pivots on the spry connection between Dujardin and Bejo, both nimble performers and elegantly turned out in period finery and pomade. The Artist, which was shot at 22 frames per second and utilizes the boxy 1:33 aspect ratio, also expertly deploys many of the technical aspects of the silent period.
Le Havre- Sunday, September 23, 4 p.m.
Introduction by Rashna Richards, Assistant professor of English, Director of Film Studies
FIPRESCI Prize – Cannes Film Festival (2011). Best Film – Prix Louis Delluc (2011)
A 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. 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.
Film Socialisme, Sunday, September 30, 4:00 p.m.
2010, 101 min.
Best Independent / Experimental Film and Video – Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards (2010)
The éminence grise of French cinema, Jean-Luc Godard tackles nothing less than the history of Europe and intractable conflicts around the globe in his latest profound cine-essay. The first hour of Film Socialisme is set on a Mediterranean cruise ship, which docks in ports in Egypt, Greece, Spain, and Italy, among others; at each stop, passengers reflect on both the horrors of Europe’s past—the Inquisition, the Holocaust—and its uncertain future. In its second half, the focus shifts to a rural gas station whose owners appear to be in the midst of a marital crisis. Yet here, too, larger sociopolitical issues— the Israel-Palestine conflict, for instance—are never far from the characters’ thoughts. Film Socialisme, like all of the great auteur’s works, is a provocative experiment in image and sound, juxtaposing narratives about Europe’s bloody past with shots of the ship’s passengers seeking out pleasure in the vessel’s casino or at the all-you-can eat buffet. Always challenging his viewers, Godard provides deliberately abstract English translations throughout Film Socialisme, inventively complicating meaning and interpretation.
Moi, Petite Fille De 13 Ans- As A Young Girl of 13, Tuesday, October 2, 7 p.m.
Introduction by Jonathan Judaken, Spence L. Wilson Chair of Humanities
Elisabeth Coronel, Florence Gaillard & Arnaud de Mezamat
In this essential documentary, the eloquent and commanding Simone Lagrange recalls, with astonishing detail, the horrors of the Holocaust and her indispensable role in bringing Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie to justice. Born in 1930 in Saint-Fons, Lagrange, whose family was involved in the Resistance, recounts fiercely defying an anti-Semitic teacher; her unyielding courage would later save her life in Auschwitz. Composed of a lengthy interview with Lagrange interspersed with archival footage (and a recent speaking engagement in a classroom), As a Young Girl of 13 features a subject who recalls the most unspeakable acts of barbarity with clear-eyed acuity. Of her first meeting with Barbie—a.k.a. the “Butcher of Lyon”—Lagrange shares the incongruous image of this brutal SS officer stroking a cat. It is precisely Lagrange’s razor-sharp memory for details that proves crucial in identifying Barbie more than 40 years later, when he was extradited to France after decades of living under an alias in South America. Footage of Lagrange testifying at Barbie’s trial in 1987—asserting that he is, without a doubt, the man who tortured her—stands as the most riveting moment in this unforgettable film about a most formidable woman.
Tomboy, Wednesday, October 3, 7 p.m.
Screened in partnership with Queer Advocacy and Gender and Sexuality Studies- Mid South Pride Week 2012
Teddy Jury Award- Berlin International Film Festival (2011)
A sensitive portrait of childhood just before pubescence, Tomboy, the second film by writer-director Céline Sciamma, astutely explores the freedom of being untethered to the rule-bound world of gender codes. About 20 minutes elapse before we learn the real name and biological sex of Laure, a gangly, short-haired kid about to go into fourth grade. Her family has just moved to a suburban apartment complex a few weeks before the school year starts. The clan’s relocation provides Laure an opportunity for re-invention, introducing herself to her playmates as Michaël —an identity that gives her the liberty to go shirtless and wrestle with the other boys, attracting the attention of crushed-out Lisa. Sciamma shows a real gift for capturing kids at play, filming the August afternoons devoted to soccer and water battles as their own otherworldly time zone. But the director doesn’t present an uncomplicated view of childhood: Laure/ Michaël, beginning to reciprocate Lisa’s smitten feelings, lives in anxiety of being found out as much as she revels in being a boy. Extremely empathic, Tomboy isn’t simply an earnest plea for tolerance: Childhood itself, the film intimates, is full of ambiguities, of sorting out what you are drawn to and what repels you.