The French & Francophone Film Festival began last Saturday with Sequins, a film about Claire Moutiers, a 17-year-old who accidentally becomes pregnant. A fashion designer hires her for her skill in embroidery, and, as Claire's baby grows, the two become friends. The first feature film of director Eleonor Faucher, it possesses endearing dialogue and whimsical scenery. The festival will continue every Saturday through Feb. 25 at The Lyric theatre in Blacksburg.
"As a French instructor, I am always pleased to have opportunities outside the classroom to share in admiring French language and art. The film today was beautifully made: the plot and the cinematography showed vibrant colors and intricate details of a young woman coming to acceptance of herself. Seeing the representation of another culture through a non-Hollywood lens is truly refreshing," said Abbey Barden, a graduate student in Virginia Tech's European Area Studies program.
Tommy Carrico, a Christopher Newport student who was in town for the weekend and attended the film festival, agreed, "Seeing a film in another language makes me feel like I have broadened myself culturally," said Carrico.
"It was beautiful," exclaimed another audience member, after viewing Sequins. "I want to see it again!"
This week's film, It's Easier for a Camel, tells the story of the daughter of a wealthy Italian industrialist who moves to Paris. There she becomes self-conscious of her family's wealth and begins using her rich imagination to escape from the problems of her family and love life. The festival will continue with Viva Algeria on Feb 11, which follows a shop clerk, a former exotic dancer, and a prostitute as they explore the tension between traditional and modern Algerian society. Moolade, about the issue of female circumcision, will show on Feb. 18. The festival closes with A Very Long Engagement on Feb. 25. Films show at 3 p.m. and will be followed by discussion.
The festival is part of the larger Turnees Festival, which is a program of FACE (French American Cultural Exchange). According to the brochure passed out at the festival, FACE supports screenings of French films on over 50 campuses across the country each year.
Dr. Janell Watson, a French professor at Virginia Tech, is coordinating the festival. "We wanted to do it for a variety of audiences," said Watson, "both the students and the community. This made The Lyric, as a non-profit theatre, the perfect place to have it."
Due to support from a large number of organizations, the festival is free, which could be why there was such a strong turnout this past Saturday.
The festival was made possible with the support of the Cultural Services of the French Embassy and the French Ministry of Culture (CNC). Co-sponsors are the Science & Technology in Society Program, ASPECT, the Virginia Tech Office of Multicultural Affairs, Bob & Bea Mahan, Office of Multicultural Affairs, the Women and Minority Artists and Scholars Lecture Series. Additional support came from the Virginia Tech departments of Philosophy, History, Geography, Sociology, Theatre Arts, Political Science and Music, and the Cercle Francophone.
To read more detailed descriptions of the films, please refer to the festival's website.
Christine Forte writes for Whim; we pretend to like her in order to get content.