Students and community members can indulge in a bit of French culture during the French Film Festival at the Kenworthy Performing Arts Centre (PAC) at 7 p.m. every Wednesday night between Wednesday and Oct. 26.
The festival is a collaborative project between WSU and the University of Idaho’s (UI) foreign language departments. It begins its second season with the film Un Baiser S’il Vous Plaît/Shall We Kiss?
Sabine Davis, a WSU clinical associate professor and co-coordinator of the event, said the first night includes a free gala event before the showing with French finger food from Bloom restaurant in Moscow and French wine provided by the Moscow Wine Co. There will also always be an introduction to the movie given by a faculty member from either WSU or UI.
“The film festival is really an event for everybody,” Davis said. “Of course we want students in our French classes at WSU and UI to come for more exposure and immursion into the French culture and language, but we also would like to see community members and some who maybe have developed an interest in French culture. We also want to see people who maybe have never seen a French movie.”
Davis said all movies have subtitles in English. Also, after each film except the first, faculty members will hold a discussion about the plot and cultural aspects for those who have questions and are interested in learning more.
Sarah Nelson, an associate professor of French at UI and co-coordinator of the festival, said last year’s festival succeeded beyond even their most hopeful predictions. She said their first priority for the festival is to serve the educational mission of the two universities, which is also the priority of the French American Cultural Exchange (FACE) Council.
“UI students, faculty and staff, as well as community members from Moscow and Pullman, have been asking me throughout the past year whether we would put on another festival this year,” Nelson said. “I hope that we'll have just as enthusiastic a response to this year's edition as we did to last year's.”
Nelson said the five films this season include "Un Baiser S’il Vous Plaît," "Des Dieux et des Hommes," "Potiche" and "Un Homme Qui Crie and Joueuse." She said the films illuminate aspects of the Francophone culture and have themes around the 1990s violence in Algeria, the 1970s women’s liberation era, the wrenching life decisions in present-day Chad and the class differences in Corsica.
“All of the films in the series also have captivating personal stories and masterful characterization against those varied background settings,” Nelson said. “We also tried to vary the tone of the films, so that we have alternated between lighter, more entertaining films.”
Davis said French cinema is very different from American cinema, so viewers may be surprised by what they see. She said the movies provide educational benefits not only through the culture they will experience, but also through the way French films are made.
“I think it will really enhance their view of cinema, entertainment and what an interesting film can be,” Davis said. “I think there is a lot more value put on the story itself in French films and the interactions between characters, whether it’s a comedy or a drama. You will not find a lot of support from the props or surroundings, but it is all in the characters and the dialogue.”
The faculty were lucky to get the funding again from the FACE Council because without it they would not be able to put on the festival, Davis said. The films are chosen from a limited list approved by the FACE Council, but the films still portray a nice example of French culture, she said.
“After three or four years we won’t to be able to renew the grant from that council, but if we can make a little bit of profit every year hopefully we can continue on without their support,” Davis said. “At some point if we gather enough funds by local sponsors and if we can put on our own film festival, maybe we could have some sort of theme.”
Christine Cavanaugh, the executive director at the Kenworthy PAC, said they assist in hosting the festival and also help the coordinators communicate with the film buyer. She said the Kenworthy PAC hosts a lot of different events including "The Vagina Monlogues," community theater, lectures and various film festivals.
“I think the French Film Festival is moving toward the right direction with the collaboration among WSU, UI and the community,” Cavanaugh said. “It is absolutely something we will help continue in the future, and it is a great opportunity for students and community members.”
The event is sponsored by a number of national and local sponsors, including the Florence Gould Foundation, the Moscow Food Coop, the Kenworthy Performing Arts Centre and both WSU and UI language departments.
With a student ID, the films are free for WSU and UI students. All other attendees must pay either $4 per show or $15 for a festival pass for all shows at the door. Donations to the festival go to the Kenworthy PAC.