The Missouri State University Judith Enyeart Reynolds College of Arts and Letters is currently hosting a digital French film festival that seeks to reflect the diversity of French cinema.
The Tournées Film Festival is partnered with the Franco-American Cultural Fund with the goal of showcasing French and francophone (French speaking) cinema to colleges in the United States.
In a collaborative effort led by Antoinette Barffour, professor of linguistics with an emphasis on French linguistics, the Department of Modern and Classical Languages and the MSU film series are hosting the festival virtually with set screening days for six feature films, with the cultural services of the French Embassy sponsoring the event.
“Through this program, we hope to promote awareness and appreciation of the francophone cinema, world cultures and language among students, faculty and the Springfield community,” Barffour said. “We believe this program has the potential to enrich ongoing efforts across the Missouri State campus in the area of diversity promotion.”
The first film to be screened was “Le procès contre Mandela et les autres” (The State Against Mandela and the Others) directed by Nicolas Champeaux and Gilles Porte. The 2018 documentary covers the historic 1963 trial of Nelson Mandela and other opponents to apartheid who defended themselves in court against charges of sabotage. The documentary uses audio tapes and firsthand accounts of individuals who were at the trial to piece together these scenes of a trial that had very little actual record to go off of, according to Barffour.
“The trial was recorded on an analogue audio recording system called dictabelts ... very supple vinyl that was rolled around a cylinder and was read with a stylus rather like a record player,” Champeaux said in an interview on the film’s official website. “The British Library tried to digitalize them in 2000 ... the library selected the speech of Mandela but the result wasn’t very satisfying.”
The second film in the festival was “Première année” (The Freshmen) directed by Thomas Lilti, a comedy/drama from 2018. “Première année” follows two medical school freshmen as they work together as friends to pass a cutthroat entrance exam to even be allowed a medical focus, according to the film synopsis.
Still to be screened are “Afrique sur seine” (Africa on the Seine), a short documentary filmed in 1955 about the life of African students in Paris, “Soleil Ô” (Oh, Sun), a 1970 film shot over four years which tells the story of a Black immigrant who makes his way to Paris in search of “his Gaul ancestors,” “Joan of Arc” (2019), a film about the life of the titular historic figure Joan of Arc during her time with the army of France, and “Viendra le feu” (Fire Will Come), a 2019 drama about an arsonist and young firefighter.
“Afrique sur seine” will be available for screening Feb. 1-8, “Soleil Ô” will be available Feb. 8-14, “Joan of Arc” Feb. 15-21 and “Viendra le feu” Feb. 22-28. Students can sign up for links to be emailed to them here.
Follow Todd Dearing on Twitter, @mtodddearing
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