The 16th Annual Festival of Films in French Feb. 8-17 at UWM celebrates the diversity and global reach of French-language cinema. UWM Professor Gabrielle Verdier, now retired, is being recognized for her vision and dedication in establishing the festival, says Anita Alkhas, associate professor of French, Italian and Comparative Literature, who coordinated the 2013 event with Sarah Davies Cordova, associate professor of French.
This year, the spotlight is on four films from multicultural Québec. The festival’s 14 films, many of them Milwaukee premieres, take audiences from Montreal to the northern provinces of Canada, from Cameroon to Paris, from New York to the Middle East and beyond.
All films are in French (or French and other languages) with English subtitles, and are free and open to the public. They will be shown in the UWM Union Theatre, 2200 E. Kenwood Blvd. For more information, visit www4.uwm.edu/cie/frenchfilm.
Friday, Feb. 8, 7 p.m.; Sunday, Feb. 10, 9 p.m.
Ivan Grbovic, DVD, 100 min., Québec, 2011
Grbovic’s introspective debut film takes place in the Lebanese Christian community of Montreal. It offers a sensitive and insightful portrayal of its protagonist, a 20-year-old with physical disabilities, who attempts to transcend the challenges of day-to-day life and find love through his online avatar, “Roméo 11.” Co-sponsored by the Québec Government Office in Chicago. Milwaukee premiere.
Friday, Feb. 8, 9 p.m.; Saturday, Feb. 9, 4 p.m.
Denis Villeneuve, 35mm, 130 min., Québec, 2010
A brilliant screen adaptation of the searing play “La femme qui chante,” by the Lebanese-Canadian playwright Wajdi Mouawad. A dying mother with a tortured past sends her twin children on a contemporary quest to uncover the mysteries surrounding their father and half-brother. Academy Award nominee, Best Foreign Language Film. Winner, Best Canadian Film, Toronto Film Festival; Best Feature Film, Adelaide Film Festival; Best Film, Venice Film Festival. Co-sponsored by the Québec Government Office in Chicago.
Saturday, Feb. 9, 7 p.m.; Sunday, Feb. 10, 5 p.m.
“MOI PETITE FILLE DE 13 ANS (AS A YOUNG GIRL OF 13)”
Elisabeth Coronel, Florence Gaillard & Arnaud de Mezamat, DVD, 88 min., France, 2010
In this documentary we meet Simone Lagrange, who was only 13 when her family was involved in the Resistance. Her courage saved her life in Auschwitz, and her sharp memory helped bring brutal Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie to justice years later. Talkbacks with Rachel Baum. Co-sponsored by the Sam and Helen Stahl Center for Jewish Studies.
Saturday, Feb. 9, 9 p.m.; Sunday, Feb. 10, 7 p.m.
“LES HOMMES LIBRES (FREE MEN)”
Ismaël Ferroukhi, 35mm, 99 min., France, 2011
Younes agrees to serve as a spy for the police to avoid prison time for peddling on the black market. But when he enters the mosque where Muslim agents are providing North African Jews with false identification papers, he is inspired by those he meets and becomes a freedom fighter. Talkbacks with Ellen Amster and Hamid Ouali. Co-sponsored by the Sam and Helen Stahl Center for Jewish Studies. Milwaukee premiere.
Sunday, Feb. 10, 2 p.m.; Sunday, Feb. 17, 7 p.m.“DONOMA (THE DAY HAS COME [SIOUX])”
Djinn Carrénard, DVD, 101 min., France, 2011
Under difficult odds, the independent Haitian filmmaker Djinn Carrénard pulls off this irreverent,
sensual and garrulous “guerilla” film. Filmed on location in and around Paris with a handheld camera and a 150-euro budget, Donoma showcases strong performances in a series of striking, trancelike vignettes – Analia, a teacher at a technical lycée on the verge of a breakdown; Chris, a sexually inexperienced photographer who decides to proposition the first man she encounters in the metro; and Salma, an agnostic who encounters the supernatural. Official selection, ACID, Cannes Festival 2012. Co-sponsored by the Department of Africology and the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies. Midwest premiere.
Monday, Feb. 11, 7 p.m.
“FAIS DANSER LA POUSSIÈRE (DANCING FOREVER)”
Christian Faure, DVD, 90 min., France, 2009
Based on Marie Dô’s autobiographical novel, the film focuses on Maya, a talented dancer, and her relationship with her unmarried Breton mother as they cope with the complexities of racism in late 1960s France. Accepted into the Alvin Ailey School, Maya moves to New York and experiences firsthand identity politics in the U.S. Faure’s camera work captures Tatiana Seguin’s performance as Maya, dazzling dance sequences choreographed by Dô and inspired improvisations. Part of UWM’s celebration of Black History & Liberation Month. Co-sponsored by Union Sociocultural Programming. Milwaukee premiere.
Tuesday, Feb. 12, 7 p.m.
Silent Film Evening with Musical Accompaniment
Marcel L’Herbier, DVD, 98 min., 1921, France
Shot amidst the monumental architecture of the Spanish Alhambra, L’Herbier’s modernist impressionist classic explores the internal struggle of a tormented cabaret dancer (Eve Francis) through a multitude of intense, nuanced and rapidly interlaced visual notations, innovative technical effects, orthochromatic color and an original score. Co-sponsored by Film Studies and departments of Film and Art History.
Wednesday, Feb. 13, 7 p.m.
“LA BANANE (THE BIG BANANA)”
Franck Bieleu, DVD, 85 min., Cameroon, 2011 (French)
Banned in Cameroon for highlighting the adverse impact of government support for high corporate profits, “La Banane” explores the devastating effects of land grabbing and other questionable tactics on communities – poor working conditions, pollution and health problems related to pesticides. Bieleu features local cooperatives working with fair-trade organizations, and may lead viewers to reconsider the sources of fruit they buy. Shown in conjunction with Union Programming’s Share the Earth Environmental Film Series.
Thursday, Feb.14, 7 p.m.
Classic French Cinema Night
“LA BELLE ET LA BÊTE (BEAUTY AND THE BEAST)”
Jean Cocteau, 35mm, 96 min., France, 1946
Well before Disney’s animated film, Cocteau created a surreal and stunningly cinematic journey that is one of the most magical films ever made, even in today’s world of digital effects. Beauty’s father, returning home through the woods, searches for a rose for his daughter and unwittingly enters the Beast’s magical chateau. The next morning, he meets the fearsome Beast, who will let him leave only if he sends one of his daughters to the chateau. Newly restored 35mm print.
Friday, Feb. 15, 7 p.m.; Saturday, Feb. 16, 3 p.m.
“LES FEMMES DU 6ÈME ÉTAGE (THE WOMEN ON THE 6TH FLOOR)”
Philippe Le Guay, 35mm, 106 min., France, 2011
A lighthearted comedic pie with a socially conscious crust, this French take on “The Help” is set in Paris in the early 1960s and “involves a seemingly hopeless, staid bourgeois businessman whose entire existence – family, career, sense of purpose, patrimony – is overturned after he discovers another, happier world with a group of Spanish maids living in his family’s building” (NY Times). 2011 César, best supporting actress, best production design, best costumes. Co-sponsored by the Women’s Studies Program.
Friday, Feb. 15, 9 p.m.; Saturday, Feb. 16, 5 p.m.
“LE HÉRISSON (THE HEDGEHOG)”
Mona Achache, 35mm, 100 min., France, 2011
Josiane Balasko delivers a memorable performance as a gruff concierge in this engaging yet sophisticated film based on Muriel Barbery’s New York Times bestseller, “The Elegance of the Hedgehog.” Through the lens of her father’s camcorder, young Paloma (Garance Le Guillermic) captures the adult world she is hesitant to join. Co-sponsored by the Women’s Studies Program.
Saturday, Feb. 16, 7 p.m.; Sunday, Feb. 17, 5 p.m.
“MESNAK (THE TORTOISE)”
Yves Sioui Durand, DVD Blu-ray, 96 min., Québec, 2011
Dave, a young, struggling actor in Montreal, returns to the desolate Inuit reserve village of Kinogamish in search of his birth mother. He is soon caught up in a modern-day Shakespearean tragedy in this intense and visually mesmerizing debut film. Co-sponsored by the Department of Anthropology and the Québec Government Office in Chicago.
Saturday, Feb. 16, 9 p.m.; Sunday, Feb. 17, 3 p.m.
“LE VENDEUR (THE SALESMAN)”
Sébastien Pilote, DVD Blu-ray, 107 min, Québec, 2011
Winter in Québec: snow, arctic sunshine, snowmobiles, car windshields in need of scraping, potlucks, polka, ice fishing and, of course, hockey. The oppressive monotony of small-town life is seen through the eyes of car salesman Marcel. Pilote, in his first feature film, makes us palpably aware of the vagaries of human existence and our reasons for living. Co-sponsored by the Québec Government Office in Chicago.
Sunday, Feb. 17, 1 p.m.
“CONTES DE LA NUIT (TALES OF THE NIGHT)”
Michel Ocelot, DVD, 84 min., France, 2011
Ocelot’s visually captivating animated feature skillfully weaves together six folk tales. He “invigorates them with lyricism: silhouettes evoke shadow plays, and often brilliant palettes reflect the cultures presented” (NY Times). Co-sponsored by the Alliance Française de Milwaukee and Southeast Wisconsin Academic Alliance in French.
The festival is held in memory of Dr. Sheldon Stone and made possible with the generous support of the Québec Government Office in Chicago and Dr. Richard Stone. UWM co-sponsors include the Sam and Helen Stahl Center for Jewish Studies, Union Programming, Union Sociocultural Programming, Center for International Education, Women’s Studies, Film Studies, Film Department, Department of Africology, Department of Anthropology, Department of Art History, Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, Department of French, Italian and Comparative Literature, and the MA in Language, Literature and Translation. Community co-sponsorship received from Alliance Française of Milwaukee and Southeast Wisconsin Academic Alliance in French.