PARIS JE T’AIME
March 16, 2008
Presented by Professor Maryse Fauvel (W&M French Department)
Paris, je t’aime is a patchwork of eighteen short films by different directors. Each one had to tell a story located in one of Paris’ “arrondissements” in less than five minutes and on a relatively tight budget. This atypical collective film bears the hallmark of major international filmmakers and the name of stellar actors such as Natalie Portman, Gena Rowlands, Elijah Wood, Ben Gazzara and Catherine Deneuve. Among the many witty and serendipitous narratives that make up this portrayal of Paris, a young foreign worker moves from her own domestic situation into her employer’s bourgeois environs; an American starlet finds escape as she is shooting a movie, a man is torn between his wife and his lover, a father grapples with his complex relationship with his daughter. Paris, je t’aime offers and interesting perspective on how foreign directors see Paris. Although they are all different in style, the films find a unity in the theme that they explore. They all tell a story about the sometimes fragile relationships that bind people who have recently met or who have known each other well.
March 23, 2008
Presented by Professor Don Monson (W&M French Department)
For thousands of years, wine has been an important tradition in many countries. Never has so much pride—an money—been at stake as today. Never have the battle lines been so clearly drawn between the old world and the new, between peasants and millionaires, and between locals, artisanal styles of wine production and multinational, mass-produced ones. The ultimate film about wine, Mondovino was filmed over a three-year period in France, Italy, the United States, and Argentina and Brazil. Juxtaposing mom-and-pop wine growers with conglomerates, Jonathan Nossiter, a trained sommelier and wine writer, intertwines multiple family dramas—some of which play like soap operas. Through interviews of amateurs, winegrowers, businessmen, and critics, he uncovers the complex tapestry of conflicts, conspiracies, and alliances that stem from the production, distribution, and consumption of wine. Mondovino gives voice to those who create, critique, sell, and distribute wine, offering a surprisingly varied, and sometimes controversial glimpse into something many people enjoy but few people know much about.
March 28, 2008
In 1949, Clement Mathieu, an unemployed music teacher, is hired to supervise children in a school for juvenile delinquents. Under Rachin, the very strict school director, the educational system is particularly repressive (it includes beatings and solitary confinement) yet it does not effectively impose discipline among the students. Mathieu, a mild-mannered man, is too much of a coward to stand up to the director’s cruel practices. However, he is able to transform the lives of these affection-starved children by teaching them the magic of choir singing and music. His attempts to reach out to the students are often undermined by the director, but Mathieu does not despair and continues to pass his knowledge and love of music to the young boys. One student in particular catches is attention. Pierre Morhange is more talented than his peers and his beautiful voice quickly overshadows the others. Mathieu’s affection for Pierre grows, along with deep feelings for his mother, Violette, a beautiful young widow. With original music composed by Christophe Barratier, a musician himself, and Bruno Calais, Les Choristes is as much about the power of music to transform lives as it is about growing up at a time when France was beginning to emerge from the devastation of WWII.
April 6, 2008
Presented by Professor Fonkijom Fusi (W&M Theater, Speech and Dance Department)
Over the course of a few days, a trial pitting African civil society against such international financial institutions as the World Bank and the IMF has set a stage in the courtyard of a home in Bamako, Mali. The trial’s examination of Africa’s debt to the World Bank, which threatens Africa’s sovereignty and continues to alienate and deprive her people, provides a surreal contrast to the everyday life shared by families whose homes surround the courtyard. As numerous trial witnesses (schoolteachers, farmers, writers, etc.) air bracing indictments against the multinational economic machinery that haunts them, life in the courtyard presses forward. Chaka, an unemployed married father, is preoccupied with the imminent break up of his marriage to Melé, a popular Bamako lounge singer. He is being harassed by a detective who accuses him of stealing a gun. In the midst of the powerful testimonies being made at the trial, the juxtaposition of Chake and Melé’s sotry, as well as those of their neighbors, give a voice to Africa’s silent majority and further fortifies Africa’s case against the World Bank. Filled with warm colors and inspirational music, Bamako voices Africa’s grievances in an original and profoundly moving way: educating, and at the same time, entertaining the audience.
April 13, 2008
Presented by Professor Sasha Prokhorov (W&M Russian Department)
In 1944 and 1945 the liberation of Italy, Provence, the Alps, the Rhone Valley, Vosges, and Alsace was essential to the victory of the allies. What is little known is that these victories were largely due to the accomplishment of recruits form Africa. 130,000 natives from North Africa and 20,000 Africans fought to liberate France, a country they had never seen before. With a reputation for endurance, sense of orientation and great courage, they were sent to the front lines of the battlefields. Days of Glory relates the forgotten story of these soldiers known as Indigenes through four of these courageous men: Yassir, Abdlkader, Said and Messaoud. Yassir expects to collect a booty for his services in the army. Surprised by the warm welcome he receives from the French, Messaoud hopes to marry and live in France, in order to escape racism in Algeria. By joining the military, Said wishes to escape poverty in Morocco and hopes to find a family in the French army. Abdelkader becomes a soldier to fight for liberty and equality. While fighting for freedom, these soldiers must face tremendous racism in the military, and in French society, forcing them to struggle for equality of treatment at every turn.
The Tournées Festival, a program of FACE (French American Cultural Exchange), is made possible with the support of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The William & Mary French and Francophone Film Festival is also made possible by The French Embassy, The William and Mary Department of Modern Languages and Literatures, The William and Mary Department of Literary and Cultural Studies and Film Studies, The William and Mary Department of African Studies, and The Emery and Wendy Reves Center for International Studies at the College of William and Mary.