French film festival returns to URI in Feb., March

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Mustang, one of six films to be shown at a French film festival at the University of Rhode Island in February and March. Photo by Cohen Media.

KINGSTON, R.I., Feb. 13, 2017— The University of Rhode Island is once again hosting a French film festival with six movies, ranging from a story about orphaned girls in the Turkish countryside to a tale about Versailles on the eve of the 1789 revolution.

The films from Feb. 21 through March 8 are free and open to the public and will be shown Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons at either Fogarty Health Sciences Building, 41 Lower College Road, or Chafee Social Science Center, 142 Flagg Road, both on the Kingston campus.

The third Tournées French Film Festival was made possible with a $2,200 grant from the French American Cultural Exchange, a New York-based nonprofit that promotes French culture through grants and special projects in the arts and education.

“The French section is delighted to host another festival,’’ says Leslie Kealhofer-Kemp, assistant professor of French. “It will provide the URI community with another great opportunity to watch a diverse selection of films from the French and francophone world.’’

Here are screening times of the films, all subtitled in English:

Farewell My Queen/Les adieux à la reine, directed by Benoît Jacquot, Tuesday, Feb. 21, at 4 p.m. in Chafee, Room 271. This adaptation of Chantal Thomas’s 2003 novel about the chaos at Versailles on the eve of the 1789 revolution is told through the eyes of Sidonie, Marie Antoinette’s besotted reader. The film is compressed into four tumultuous days, July 14-17, and takes place almost entirely in the royal palace.

 School of Babel/La cour de Babel, directed by Julie Bertucelli, Wednesday, Feb. 22, at 3 p.m. in Fogarty, Room 214. The film follows a year in a Paris schoolroom for children who have recently immigrated to France. Using a fly-on-the-wall intimate style, the documentary provides unforgettable glimpses into the lives of teens from Mauritania, Serbia, Venezuela, Romania, Senegal, Libya, Ireland, Brazil and China.

Mustang, directed by Deniz Gamze Ergüven, Tuesday, Feb. 28, at 4 p.m. in Chafee, Room 271. An Academy Award nominee for best foreign film, Mustang begins when the childhoods of five orphaned sisters in the Turkish countryside come to an abrupt end. Their grandmother and uncle discover that they had been swimming in the sea with boys and lock them inside the house. Things go downhill from there—medical checks, arranged marriages, even suicide—yet a glimmer of hope remains through the rebellious acts of the youngest sister.

Chicken with Plums/Poulet aux prunes, directed by Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Parronaud, Wednesday, March 1, at 3 p.m. in Fogarty, Room 214. A graphic novel adapted to the big screen, the film is set in Tehran in 1958 and mostly includes live action. The real actors—including Mathieu Amalric as Nasser-Ali Khan, a gifted violinist so miserable he wills himself to die—appear before hyper-stylized sets that make the film seem like a parable. The reason behind Nasser-Ali’s anguish is revealed: the end of his first—and only—great love affair.

Far from Men/Loin des hommes, directed by David Oelhoffen, Tuesday, March 7, at 4 p.m. in Chafee, Room 271. Adapted from Albert Camus’ short story The Guest, the film begins in a one-room schoolhouse in the Atlas Mountains, where Daru (Viggo Mortensen), the son of Spanish settlers, teaches Algerian children French at the start of the Algerian War. One day, local French police officers appear with Mohamed, an Algerian accused of murder, and charge Daru with escorting him to the closest city for trial while they continue to fight the growing insurrection. The film is a gripping meditation on the fate of individuals tossed around by sociopolitical forces beyond their control.

Chocolat, directed by Claire Denis, Wednesday, March 8, at 3 p.m. in Fogarty, Room 214. The film is seen through the eyes of a French district officer’s girl in a remote part of Cameroon. When a French plane crash-lands nearby, the officer takes in its passengers, a group of colonial administrators and entrepreneurs who soon bring to light the many tensions underlying the family’s sleepy existence.

For more information, visit http://web.uri.edu/languages/tournees-french-film-festival or call Kealhofer-Kemp at 401-874-4699.