URI’s French program wins grant to screen six films during festival

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KINGSTON, R.I., Jan. 29, 2015 – A touch of France and the francophone world is coming to the University of Rhode Island with a four-week French film festival starting next month.

The six films are free and open to the public and will be shown at 6 p.m. in the Agnes G. Doody Auditorium in Swan Hall, 60 Upper College Road. A discussion will follow each screening.

URI’s first Tournées French Film Festival was made possible by 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 arts and education.

“We are delighted to host a Tournées Festival at the University of Rhode Island,” says Leslie Kealhofer-Kemp, assistant professor of French. “It will provide the URI community with an opportunity to discover a very diverse line-up of films from the French and francophone world. We are deeply grateful for the support of the French American Cultural Exchange and the Tournées festival sponsors.”

Here’s a list of the films, all subtitled in English:

* Potiche/Trophy Wife, directed by François Ozon. Tuesday, Feb. 24. French actors Catherine Deneuve, Gérard Depardieu and Fabrice Luchini star in this delightful comedy set in 1977. Suzanne Pujol (Deneuve) feels like nothing more than a “potiche” (trophy wife) and stays home while her philandering husband, Robert (Luchini), runs the local umbrella factory. But when Robert suffers a nervous breakdown during a labor dispute, Suzanne must step in and try to negotiate with Babin (Depardieu), the Communist union leader – and her former lover.

* Grisgris, directed by Mahamat-Saleh Haroun. Wednesday, Feb. 25. Set in the former French colony of Chad, Grisgris is one of the few films to come out of Chad in recent years. It follows Grisgris (Souleymane), a young man who, despite a physical handicap, is determined to become a professional dancer and show off his incredible moves at local clubs. His dream is called into question, however, after he agrees to smuggle gas for a gang to pay for his stepfather’s medical treatment.

* Camille Claudel 1915, directed by Bruno Dumont. Tuesday, March 3. In this film, Juliette Binoche gives a highly praised performance as French sculptor Camille Claudel, who struggles to adapt to life in a mental asylum after she is committed against her will by her family. She was once the muse of Auguste Rodin and a talented artist, but she has been cut off from her art and the world she knows. This subtle and sober biopic was inspired by the letters exchanged between Camille Claudel and her brother, Paul, a poet and diplomat.

* Ernest and Celestine. Wednesday, March 4. This charming and Oscar-nominated animated film is based on popular children’s books by Belgian author Gabrielle Vincent. It depicts an unlikely friendship between two characters whose worlds are opposed: Celestine, an adorable mouse, and Ernest, a gruff bear. This beautiful film was hand-sketched and painted with watercolor backgrounds.

* Le gamin au vélo/The Kid with a Bike, directed by Belgian filmmakers and brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne. Tuesday, March 10. Set in a working-class neighborhood in Belgium, this moving film follows a troubled 11-year-old child, Cyril, who refuses to accept that his father has abandoned him. He is desperate to be reunited with his father and to find his lost bicycle. Along the way, he meets a stranger, Samantha, who will prove to be his savior. The Kid with a Bike won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival.

* Le joli mai/The Lovely Month of May, directed by Chris Marker and Pierre Lhomme. Screening is Wednesday, March 11. What was Paris like in the 1960s? This documentary provides a fascinating snapshot of Paris and Parisians in May of 1962, shortly after the end of the Algerian War. The end of this conflict marked the first time since 1939 that France was not involved in any war, and in the film interviewees discuss their daily lives as well as political and social issues important to them.

URI professors Jean Walton, Rebecca Romanow, Tom Zorabedian, Michelle Le Brun and Matt Kemp, as well as URI student Kevin Sankey ’17, were all involved in selecting the films and making suggestions for the grant application.

For more information, visit URI French Film Festival, French Program or call Kealhofer-Kemp at 401-874-4699.

Pictured above: Ernest and Celestine illustration courtesy of GKids; Juliette Binoche in Camille Claudel 1915 courtesy of Kino Lorber, Edu.