French Film Festival draws to a close with films “A Tale of Love and Desire” streaming online March 9-11 and “Mr. Klein” screening at 2 p.m. in TLC 1203.
Since Feb. 9, International Languages and Cultures (ILC) in the Department of English, Film, Languages and Performing Arts has invited the community every week to explore French culture and cinematography with six films for the French Film Festival.
“Nextweek, our final film is called Mr. Klein, or Monsieur Klein in French, and that is an official film from 1976. It’s a classic in French cinema,” said Dr. Robert Kilpatrick, Professor of French at UWG. “It engages with the question of the French state and French society’s involvement in a very dark period of French History which is during World War II, when France was occupied by Nazi Germany.
“There were also significant collaborationist elements within French society and this film focuses on what was happening in Paris related to the Holocaust,” continued Kilpatrick
The screening will be followed by a faculty panel featuring German Professor Dr. Felix Tweraser, History Professor Dr. Timothy Schroer and Psychology Professor Dr. Jeffery Reber.
Meanwhile, “A Tale of Love and Desire” is a romance between Tuniscian Farah and Algerian Frenchman Ahmed, who discovers erotic Arab literature he never knew existed. The film is available for streaming online for free until midnight on March 11 accessed through the event series website: https://sites.google.com/westga.edu/uwgfrenchfilmfestival2023/home.
Lamine Lo, a student research assistant in ILC’s French program, introduces thefilm and includes a Faculty Q&A video.
“[Our approach is] to bring together voices from different disciplines to talk about these films, to help contextualize these films for students who attend them,” said Kilpatrick. “Beyond contextualizing them, so helping people understand what a French viewer would notice immediately but may not be apparent to us from a different cultural context.”
The French film festival is an annual spring event, referred to as Albertine Cinémathèque, an education and grant program for universities. Coordinated by French Professors Claire Ezekiel, Lisa Connell and Kilpatrick, and provided by the French-American Cultural Exchange in Education and the Arts (FACE) Foundation in New York and in tandem with the U.S. French Embassy, UWGhas been able to win the grant for five years in a row now.
Along with the last two films, this Albertine Cinémathèque included titles “Nous, We,” “Antoine et Colette,” “Gallant Indies” and “The Monopoly of Violence.” Every screening involved engaging with the community and interdisciplines depending on the film. For instance, the “Gallant Indies” was accompanied by UWG music students performing.
“With our second screening, it was a documentary about an adaptation of a Baroque Opera, a very famous Baroque Opera from the 18th century,” said Kilpatrick. “It’s about a modern production and staging of that [Opera] for a Multicultural France.”
Valentine’s day eve’s screening, “Antoine and Colette” was part of an international language event featuring Dutch, Spanish and French short films.
“Dr. Anca Koczkas from our Spanish program was the lead on that [event], called ‘LOL: Languages of Love,’” said Kilpatrick. “That featured three short films around the theme of love. And one of those was the French film [“Antoine and Colette”] introduced by Lin Anderson from our French Program.”
The whole Film Festival has involved many different voices and efforts across disciplines. In particular, last week’s film screening of “The Monopoly of Violence” on March 2 featured a plenary panel including French professors Kilpatrick and Lisa Connell, Criminology professors Gavin Lee and Neema Noori and Film professor Erin Lee Mock.
“[The Monopoly of Violence] was a French documentary set during the so-called Yellow Vest Protests, of late 2018 and 2019 that occurred in France, organized around or against economic disparities in the country,” said Kilpatrick.
“The film explores the theme of the state use of force, what constitutes the legal or legitimate use of force by state actors and the police,” continued Kilpatrick. “It’s made up largely of videos shot by protesters themselves. Videos that weren’t shot with a documentary in mind, but were shot for social media. So, it’s a self-framing of the protesters.”
The movie delves into commentary with interviewees including protesters, observers, activistsand police discussing the different videos or the significance behind them.
“[After screening, we draw] connections from what happens in these films and what we’re experiencing in U.S. society or in other societies around the world,” said Kilpatrick. “For example, in the “Monopoly of Violence,” we drew connections between [Yellow Vests Protests] and protest movements that the students in the U.S. are familiar with in recent years, in particular Black Lives Matter. We also talked about it in an international context with protests that are going on in Iran right now.”
In recent years, foreign films outside of English-speaking media have become mainstream including Japanese and Korean motion pictures. For some, watching films in a foreign language might be daunting or troublesome, but overall the experience can invite hearing languages and seeing cultures outside the familiar in an authentic context.
If you’re unable to catch either “A Tale of Love and Desire” or “Mr. Klein” viewings, ILC will host an international horror film event next fall, featuring German, Spanish and French horror films.
“We’d be delighted if [the festival] could reach more people for this year, and then maybe they could look forward to it next year,” said Kilpatrick.