February 10, 2009 — The Department of French Language and Literature at the University of Virginia will offer its annual Tournées Francophone Film Festival Feb. 19-22.
This year's lineup includes a variety of recent films from the French-speaking world: "Dans Paris," by Christophe Honoré (2007); "Frantz Fanon: Sa Vie, Son Combat, Son Travail," by Cheikh Djamai (2004); "La Question Humaine," by Nicolas Klotz (2006); "La Faute a Fidel," by Julie Gavras (2006); and "Rêves de Poussière," by Laurant Salgues (2006).
Screenings are free and open to the public with the exception of the final film, "Rêves de Poussière," which is being shown in partnership OFFScreen. Admission is $3. All movies are in French, with English subtitles, and a moderator will lead discussion after each film.
For the fourth year the French department has been able to offer the festival through a grant from the French Embassy and the French Ministry of Culture. The Tournées Festival grant is designed to help bring contemporary French cinema to colleges and universities. The grant allows graduate students in the department to organize the festival and rent or purchase the films to build a library for future screenings. The Tournées Festival was developed to encourage schools to begin their own self-sustaining French film festivals.
"We choose films that have not been shown on Grounds, in the library or at Vinegar Hill Theater, but that will appeal to a wide range of audiences," said Gayle Smith, one of the organizers.
Another organizer, Aline Charles, said, "We also try to show films that are not easily accessible."
The graduate students said the festival offers their students valuable exposure to French culture and issues in the Francophone world.
For a detailed schedule of showings, visit the Web site.
The films scheduled for the festival include:
• "Dans Paris (Inside Paris)" (2006)
Feb. 19, 6:30 p.m., Wilson Hall Auditorium
A 30-year-old man, Paul, lives with his wife in the countryside and has an unexplainable breakdown. He returns to his father's flat in Paris, takes over his younger brother's room and refuses to get out of bed. The family has to deal with this situation and every member reacts in a different way. The father, who is excessively worried about his son, cooks, cleans and prepares for Christmas, trying to maintain a childhood bubble around his grown-up children. Paul's brother walks the city streets and calls Paul on the phone and describes to him the mild extravagance of his womanizing. Women are the missing pieces from this family. Behind the deep depression of Paul, the silence of his father and the laughs of his brother, there is the burden of the absent mother and the sister's death. Inspired by the Nouvelle Vague, the film gives a view into the lives of three idle and sensitive men linked by solidarity, humor and reserve.
• "Frantz Fanon: Sa Vie, Son Combat, Son Travail (Frantz Fanon: His Life, His Struggle, His Work)" (2004)
Feb. 20, 6 p.m., Wilson Hall Auditorium
Psychiatrist Frantz Fanon originally from Martinique, became a spokesman for the Algerian revolt against French colonialism. During the Second World War, he volunteered as a soldier to help France, "the Mother Country," against the Nazis. Embittered by his experience with racism in the French army, he gravitated to radical politics, Sartrean existentialism and the philosophy of black consciousness known as négritude. While secretly aiding the rebels of the Algerian anti-colonial war as a doctor in Algeria, Fanon cared for victims and perpetrators alike, producing case notes that shed invaluable light on the psychic traumas of colonial war. Expelled from Algeria in 1956, Fanon moved to Tunis, where he wrote for El Moudjahid, the rebel newspaper, founded Africa's first psychiatric clinic, and wrote several influential books on decolonization. The film features testimonies of friends, family and colleagues that he met during the different steps of his life and traces the short and intense life of one of the great thinkers of the 20th century.
A roundtable debate will follow the screening.
• "La Question Humaine (Heartbeat Detector)" (2007)
Feb. 21, 4:30 p.m., Clark Hall 107
Simon is a psychologist in charge of human resources at a German multinational, SC Farb. He deals with hiring new employees but also with layoffs. When the managing director asks him to look into, and draw up the psychological portrait of, the company's general manager, Simon gradually uncovers the dark history of the company — its shady conduct during World War II and the involvement of its key figures in the Holocaust. This past, along with the discovery that he is being manipulated, has a deep impact on him, physically and emotionally. He starts asking himself questions: Is he today's equivalent of a fascist? Who are the people he is "discarding" in the name of business efficiency and profit?
• "La Faute A Fidel (Blame It on Fidel)" (2006)
Feb. 21, 7:45 p.m., Clark Hall 107
Anna is a precocious 9-year-old girl living a simple and comfortable life, regulated by habits and order. Her family is wealthy; she goes to a private religious school, and often visits her grandparents, who have a wine estate in Bordeaux. One day, her father's sister is forced to leave Spain — her husband has just been killed by Franco's police force. Suddenly, Anna's parents radically change their political views. Both become left-wing revolutionaries and Anna's stable life goes awry. Women's rights, freedom of speech, democracy and demonstration are now at the forefront of Anna's parents' lives. At first, Anna strives to hold on to the comfort she is used to and is very unhappy when the family moves to a smaller apartment. She also has to adapt to her parents' new lifestyle as they have less time to take care of her. Yet, she also tries to make sense of the larger political events that shake her life and she does not settle for the simplistic answers that adults give children.
• "Rêves De Poussiere (Dreams Of Dust)" (2006)
Feb. 22, 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m., Newcomb Theater
Mocktar, a Nigerian peasant who lost his entire family in a terrible accident, tries to rebuild his life. He goes to Essakane, a dusty gold mine in Northeast Burkina Faso, to forget the past that haunts him. He begins working in the dangerous tunnels of the mine. Little by little, Mocktar discovers that the gold rush ended 20 years before, and the inhabitants of this wasteland manage to exist simply from force of habit. In Essakane, the life of the whole population revolves around the irrational expectation of finding gold. Among the inhabitants, the beautiful Coumba courageously struggles to raise her daughter after her husband died in the mine. As Mocktar falls in love with Coumba, he fights not only to survive, but also to provide a better future for her and her child. He puts together enough money to prepare for their departure for France where Coumba's daughter will get a proper education and a chance of becoming someone.
(This screening is in partnership with OFFscreen and there is a $3 charge.)