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French Film Series Embraces Global Francophone Culture

Posted: September 27, 2011

Parlez-vous francais? If the answer is "Oui," it may be because you are a native of western or northern Africa. “The Francophone [French-speaking] culture stretches far beyond the borders of France,” said William White, associate professor and chair of the Modern and Classical Languages Department. “In a few decades, the majority of native French speakers will be residents of Africa.” Even today, French is spoken by more people in Africa than in France, although often as a second language.

White's point is amply demonstrated by the movies to be shown in the upcoming Tournés Festival, which will feature five French-language films. The first film, White Material, starring Claire Denis, tells the story of a coffee plantation owner in an unnamed African country engulfed in a civil war. Des Dieux et Des Hommes (Of Gods and Men) depicts the true story of eight French Trappist monks living in Algeria; Un Homme Qui Crie (A Screaming Man) is set in Chad.

All five films are free and open to the public, thanks to an award granted to the Modern and Classical Languages Department from the French American Cultural Association (FACE). “The purpose of the award is to share critically acclaimed French films with the United States,” said White, who chose the five films from a wide selection of relatively recent French-language films.

In making his choices, White chose films that touched on issues including aging, spirituality, feminism, and—especially in La Belle Endormie (Sleeping Beauty)—sexuality. “I wanted to include films that would appeal to a variety of audiences,” said White, “as well as to our students.” Potiche (which can be translated as “trophy wife”) stars Catherine Deneuve.

White, who works with Buffalo State students studying to become French teachers, explained that students must understand that there are many French-speaking cultures. “The French language spread throughout the world during France’s colonial era,” White explained. “As countries gained independence, there was a backlash against the use of the colonial language. But as time went by, the Francophone cultures found that the French language bound them together and gave them an opportunity to share their individual cultures with a wider audience.”

The films, all of which are free and open to the public, are in French with subtitles. France does not have a rating system; the films may contain adult material. The schedule is:

Wednesday, October 5          
7:00 p.m.
Burchfield Penney Art Center Auditorium
White Material (102 minutes)

Wednesday, October 12        
7:00 p.m.
Burchfield Penney Art Center Auditorium
Des Dieux et Des Hommes/Of Gods and Men (120 minutes)

Tuesday, October 18  
7:30 p.m.
Bulger Communication West 2
Un Homme Qui Crie/A Screaming Man (92 minutes)

Wednesday, October 26       
7:00 p.m.
Burchfield Penney Art Center Auditorium
Potiche (103 minutes)

Wednesday, November 2     
7:00 p.m.
Burchfield Penney Art Center Auditorium
La Belle Endormie/ The Sleeping Beauty (82 minutes)

Download festival poster (PDF, 3.3MB)

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Modern and Classical Languages

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