Section: Arts

Francophone Film Festival brings identity issues to the screen

Francophone Film Festival brings identity issues to the screen

“You’re all in one room having the same experience at the same time,” Pierre Dairon, assistant professor of French and an expert in Francophone cultures, said about Kenyon’s third annual Francophone Film Festival.

The Festival is financed by the Tournées Festival, a program that provides $200,000 in grants for American colleges, such as Kenyon, to screen select French-language films. Founded in 1995, the Festival is an initiative by the nonprofit French American Cultural Magazine (FACE) foundation in partnership with the Cultural Services of the French Embassy. The Festival has partnered with more than 500 universities across the United States, according to its website.

Dairon began applying for the FACE grant as a graduate student at the University of Virginia and launched the Francophone Film Festival in 2013, one year after he came to Kenyon. The festival appears to have become a popular event in its three years here, judging by the nearly-full Gund Gallery Community Foundation Theater last Wednesday.

Kenyon’s Francophone Film Festival kicked off with thefirst film Far From Men, directed by David Oelhoffen, a celebrated French director. The movie is an adaptation of “The Guests,” a short story by French author Albert Camus.

Far From Men, like many of the other movies in this year’s festival lineup, tells a story different from what viewers expect of typical French life. The film takes place in a bleak Algerian desert, a far cry from the Parisian streets most people associate with French cinema. The screening was followed by a discussion, held in English, led by Professor of French Mort Guiney.

Many of the Francophone films give audiences insight into aspects of French society that Americans might not otherwise be exposed to.

Approved for Adoption, which was shown yesterday evening, depicts a Korean man returning to his birthplace for the first time since he was five, and is based off of an autobiographical graphic novel.

School of Babel, a documentary about a group of immigrants starting at a new school in France, and May Allah Bless France, the story of a black boy in France who becomes a rapper and slam poet, follow a similar theme.

Chocolat is the oldest film included in this year’s festival. Premiering in 1988, it tells the story of a Cameroonian man and a French woman’s friendship.

Dairon compiled the festival lineup from a selection of 200 films. In past years, students contributed to the selection of films, but the students previously involved have graduated.

“I tried to choose films that address many different issues connected to France, especially immigration and the immigration of people from Muslim countries,” Dairon said.

The next screening is Chocolat, on Friday Sept. 30 in the Gund Gallery Community Foundation Theater.


Comments for this article have closed. If you'd like to send a letter to the editor for publication, please email us at