Though the days may be short in these winter months, the lights of Paris promise to lift you from the winter doldrums when Southern Utah University hosts the Tournées Film Festival, a showcase of French films which will run every Tuesday evening at 7 p.m. from February 7 through March 6.
With the help of a grant from the French American Cultural Exchange (FACE), Foreign
Language and Philosophy Department Chair Elise Leahy was able to secure funding to
bring the film festival to Cedar City.
FACE requires institutions interested in participating in the festival to complete a strict application process, meaning that SUU is on a short list of participants that include the likes of Notre Dame, Duke, and Boston College — bringing the latest and very best in French film to the campus community.
This marks Tournées’ fourth year on SUU’s campus, and Leahy reports that it has been “a fantastic experience” for students and Cedar City residents alike.
Leahy hopes the films will serve as a way for students and the community to get a
glimpse of contemporary French life as well as a broader view of other cultures in
general. She predicts the animated film will draw the largest crowd — as it has for the past three yeas — but hopes moviegoers wont limit themselves to just that, as she feels all five films are “strong, entertaining and insightful” films.
Many of this year’s selections are internationally award-winning films. In addition to the animated selection, the 2012 line-up includes everything from a modern day fairytale to a groundbreaking documentary about the French New Wave.
Beyond entertainment value, Leahy and her colleagues have worked with professors
across campus to select films from the Festival’s line-up that tie into SUU students’ current coursework.
To augment the experience, Leahy has also selected faculty from across campus to
introduce each film as it relates to their area of expertise. These faculty will provide an overview of the topic — insightful background information that will make the movies all the more meaningful and accessible to the general public.
This year’s line-up includes “Des Dieux et des Hommes” (Of Gods and Men), “Deux De
la Vague” (Two in the Wave), “L’Illusioniste” (The Illusionist), “La Belle Endormie” (The Sleeping Beauty) and “Hadewijch.”
February 7: Xavier Beauvois’ “Of Gods and Men” (2010) is a sublime tale of faith and doubt based on a real incident, chronicling the story of eight French Trappist monks living in an impoverished Algerian village. When faced with threats of violence from fundamentalist terrorists and the Algerian military, the monks must decide whether to seek safety or risk their lives and stay with the local villagers who have come to trust them and rely on their aid.
February 14: Emmanuel Laurent’s “Two in the Wave” (2009) is the story of François
Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard, renowned creators of the French New Wave. Laurent
employs an array of archival material to create this fascinating documentary, which traces the rise and thorny fall of the friendship of these two legendary auteurs.
February 21: Sylvain Chomet’s “The Illusionist” (2010) is a follow-up to his 2003 “The Triplets of Belleville” and is another exquisitely animated film, based on an unproduced script by the French comic genius Jacques Tati, in which a struggling magician befriends Alice, a poor cleaning girl who follows him to Edinburgh. Although neither the magician nor his young charge speak each other’s language, “The Illusionist” beautifully shows the ways people understand each other nonverbally.
February 28: Cetherine Breillat’s “The Sleeping Beauty” (2010) provocatively
deconstructs a classic fairytale, upending conventional ideas about sex and gender. In this retelling, six-year-old Anastasia, cursed to sleep for 100 years, visits far-off lands in her slumber and renounces “the world of little girls.” She wakes up a teenager a century later and discovers carnal pleasures with both a man and a woman — as well as crushing heartbreak.
March 6: Bruno Dumont’s “Hadewijch” (2009) follows 20-year-old Céline, a young
woman who is expelled from a nunnery for her over-zealous faith and returns to the
secular world where she meets rebellious teenager Yassine and his older brother, Nassir, whose religious fervour mirror’s Céline’s own. “Hadewijch” explores the relentless pursuit of faith in both Christianity and Islam — and what drives certain believers to acts of extreme violence.
All films will be shown in the Sharwan Smith Center Theater at 7 p.m. on Tuesday
evenings. The films are in French with English subtitles, and all are free and open to the public.
The festival is made possible through the French Ministry of Foreign and European
Affairs and the Florence Gould Foundation. At SUU, it is presented with the support of the Department of Foreign Languages & Philosophy, the College of Humanities & Social Sciences, and The Sargon Heinrich Global Engagement Center at SUU.