The Hobart and William Smith Colleges French and Francophone Studies Department will host the annual Tournées Film Festival this February at the Smith Center for the Arts in downtown Geneva, extending its availability this year to local and Finger Lakes communities.
French and Francophone Studies Postdoctoral Fellow Jennifer Cazenave and Assistant Professor of French and Francophone Studies Courtney Wells are co-organizing the third annual series, which is free and open to the public. Six screenings of timeless French films will be presented at The Smith beginning with the first showing on Wednesday, Feb. 4 and running through Thursday, Feb. 26. The films are in French with English subtitles, making insight into French culture accessible to non-French speakers.
“Film is a medium that is particularly conducive to representing contemporary issues, considering the number of films made in a given year,” Cazenave says. “Moreover, given the circulation of films — whether in festivals or movie theaters — it is a medium that lends itself to being accessible to wider audiences.”
With original release dates ranging from 1963 to 2013 and settings that span Paris to Cambodia, the films being presented in Tournées are sure to broaden cultural horizons. Cazenave says that since French is the official language in many locales around the world, that French films often present a variety of perspectives on different cultures, societies and histories.
“One brilliant strength of French film is that it offers a different perspective on society and culture,” Wells says. “It tells stories that Hollywood never would.”
In addition, creating connections between different departments and the French and Francophone Studies Department also has been a guiding idea behind the festival, he says.
“We wanted students and faculty to see that French was not limited to the sole study of French language and French culture, but opens up an entire new way of looking at all of the various disciplines taught at HWS: this includes film, literature, but also political science, psychology, sociology, anthropology, dance, human rights, history, LGBTQ studies and philosophy,” Wells says. “What excites me about the future of the department is exploring these possibilities further with our students and our colleagues.”
In addition to organizing the event, Cazenave and Wells will also co-host the series.
Following the screening of the “L’image Manquante” / “The Missing Picture” on Feb. 4, there will be a panel discussion with Cazenave and Associate Professor and Chair of Religious Studies Richard Salter. The showing is co-sponsored by the HWS Human Rights and Genocide Symposium.
Later in the series, Cazenave will also introduce, “Le Joli Mai” / “The Pretty Month of May,” a documentary about France in the post-war period.
There will also be a presentation of the film “L’inconnu du Lac” / “Stranger By The Lake” with Visiting Instructor of LGBT Studies Tallie Ben Daniel and a question-and-answer session moderated by Daniel and Wells. The French and Francophone Club will present “Quai d’Orsay” / “The French Minister” and provide free popcorn.
While the French and Francophone Club is sponsoring “The French Minister,” the Tournées Festival in its entirety was made possible with the support of the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the U.S., the Centre National de la Cinématographie et de l’Image Animée, and the Franco-American Cultural Fund.
- The first installment of the festival series will be “L’image Manquante” / “The Missing Picture,” which is a 2013 autobiographical documentary with a unique representation of Khmer Rouge oppression, which creatively uses carved and painted figures to represent those forced into agricultural labor camps on April 17, 1975. This recipient of the Cannes Film Festival Award will be playing at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 4.
- On Thursday, Feb. 5, Bertrand tavernier’s “Quai d’Orsay” / “The French Minister” will be playing at 7:30 p.m. This satirical film features a speechwriter for a Minister of Foreign Affairs who is known for his strange outbursts.
- On Wednesday, Feb. 11 at 7:30 p.m., “Le Joli Mai” / “The Pretty Month of May” will be showing the Parisian aftermath of France’s colonial war with Algeria in Chris Marker’s powerful documentary.
- Thursday, Feb. 12 at 7:30 p.m. will be screening “Grigris,” which is a film involving a disco in N’Djamena (capital of Chad).
- Thursday, Feb. 19 at 7:30 p.m. it will be “L’inconnu du Lac” / “Stranger By The Lake,” which is a unique love story set in the south of France. This film regards unconditional love, when a man is undeterred from another man’s act of murder.
- Concluding the Tournées Film Festival on Thursday, Feb. 26 at 7:30 p.m. is “Venus à La Fourrure” / “Venus in Fur.” This film stars Mathieu Amalric, who plays a Stage writer-director, desperate to find the right actress for an 1870 adaptation of “Venus in Furs.” Just as he is about to give up on his search, an uncannily appropriate performer appears.
For more information about the festival movies and Smith Opera House events, visit: http://thesmith.org/event-calendar/