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February 24, 2020, March 2, 2020|7:00 pm

2020 Williams College French Film Festival

Images Cinema

50 Spring St., Williamstown, Massachusetts

Image courtesy Williams College

The 2020 Williams College French Film Festival will take place over three consecutive Mondays at 7 p.m. on February 17, 24, and March 2, at Images Cinema, 50 Spring Street, in Williamstown. All screenings are free and open to the public.

This year’s theme, “Against the Odds: Strength and Resilience in French and Francophone Film,” examines the multiple faces of French and Francophone cinema. From the immigrant experience of a young Moroccan chef in Paris, to the journey in the streets of Kinshasa of a nightclub singer raising money for her teenage son’s operation, and the documented testimonies of 24 black women on their everyday life in France and Belgium, these films present us with the daily experiences of people in-between places, cultures, and languages.

Each of the films explore the individual complexity of the French and Francophone identity today, as well as the contemporary aftermath of France and Belgium’s colonial past. Comedy, drama, and documentary, the films call for a more nuanced representation of French and Francophone identities, one that takes into consideration the multiplicity of races, cultures, and histories. Among current heated discussions in France and the US about diversity and inclusion, as well as a growing awareness of the history of French colonization and its long-term consequences, the film festival aims to encourage discussion and debate on inclusivity, gender, race, and representation in contemporary cinema.

The 2020 French Film Festival schedule is as follows:

Monday, Feb. 17, at 7 p.m.

Jean-Philippe Gaud’s Tazzeka (2018)  

Growing up in the Moroccan village of Tazzeka, Elias learned the secrets of traditional Moroccan cuisine from his grandmother who raised him. Years later, meeting a top Paris chef and a young woman named Salma inspires him to leave home. In Paris, Elias faces unstable work and financial hardship as an undocumented immigrant. But he also finds friendship with Souleymane, who helps revive his passion for cooking. (Artmattan Productions)

Monday, Feb. 24, at 7 p.m.

Alain Gomis’ Félicité (2017) 

Franco-Senegalese film-maker Alain Gomis has created a film portrait in an ambient social-realist style, showing us a woman called Félicité, a bar singer in the tough streets of Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Her life is thrown into turmoil when her 14-year-old son gets into a terrible car accident. To raise the money to save him, she sets out on a breakneck race through the streets of electric Kinshasa—a world of music and dreams. Gomis leaves it up to the audience to determine the precise level of irony in her name. (Ide, The Guardian)

Monday, March 2, at 7 p.m.

Amandine Gay’s Ouvrir la Voix (Speak Up) (2017)

Amandine Gay’s documentary Ouvrir la Voix confronts a political and historical paradox: the illusion of color blindness that is central to the French national self-image. [...] It’s a film of experience and reflection, and its first-person narratives and anecdotes are matched by vigorous and incisive discussions of ideas, observations of a diagnostic and analytical bent. (Brody, The New Yorker)

This festival is made possible with the generous support of the Williams College Romance Languages Department and the Center for Foreign Languages, Literatures, and Cultures. The festival was co-organized by Jane Canova of the Center for Foreign Languages and French Professor Brian Martin. French Professors Katarzyna Pieprzak, Cécile Tresfels and Sophie Saint-Just will introduce the films. Tazzeka and Ouvrir la Voix are in French and Félicité is in Lingala and French. For more on these films and screenings, visit: http://imagescinema.org and http://cfllc.williams.edu.

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