9/22/15 ASHLAND, Ohio – Ashland University’s Department of Foreign Languages will hold a Tournées Film Festival in October that will feature five recent French films and one classic film. Each film screening will include a brief introduction and a post-film discussion led by Dr. Richard Gray, assistant professor of French, who organized the festival.
The festival, which is free and open to the public, will take place October 6, 7, 13, 14, 20 and 21 at 7 p.m. in the Ronk Lecture Hall in the Schar College of Education. The festival is presented in collaboration with AU’s College of Arts and Sciences.
On Oct. 6, the film “Bande de filles” (Girlhood) (2014) will be shown. Set in the impoverished banlieues that ring Paris and are home to many of its French-African denizens, Girlhood focuses on Marieme (Karidja Touré), a 16-year-old who assumes responsibility for her two younger sisters while their mother works the night shift. The teenager must also frequently absorb the wrath of her tyrannical slightly older brother. Led by the swaggering Lady (Assa Sylla), this crew—whose members are all played by charismatic first-time performers—boosts Marieme’s confidence. “You have to do what you want.” Girlhood follows Marieme as she tries to put this mantra into practice while being repeatedly reminded of her severely limited options.
On Oct. 7, the film “Parce que j’étais peintre” (Because I Was a Painter) (2014) will be shown. Christophe Cognet’s absorbing documentary about artworks created by those imprisoned in concentration camps during World War II explores a number of paradoxes. Can a drawing of unimaginable horrors, for instance, ever be considered “beautiful”? What, exactly, is “beauty”? The surviving artists, interviewed in their homes in Israel, France, Poland, and other countries, express a range of opinions on these matters; one painter asserts that depicting his surroundings, no matter how gruesome, on paper was the only way to endure the torture. Others declare that sketching people, places and events from the past was crucial to their survival.
On Oct. 13, Sils Maria (Clouds of Sils Maria) (2014) will be shown. Olivier Assayas’s magnificent Clouds of Sils Maria explores the unstable boundaries between performing and being. Juliette Binoche plays Maria Enders, an internationally renowned star; Kristen Stewart, as Valentine, is Maria’s personal assistant. Maria, who is “sick of acting on wires in front of green screens,” is considering whether to star in a revival of the stage drama that launched her career 20 years ago, in which she played a cunning ingénue who seduces, abandons and then drives to suicide her older boss. In the remounting, Maria is to portray the spurned middle-aged lover; the part she originally inhabited is offered to Jo-Ann Ellis (Chloë Grace Moretz), a rising phenomenon with a Lindsay Lohan–like penchant for scandal and self-destruction.
On Oct. 14, Deux Jours, Une Nuit (Two Days, One Night) (2014) will be shown. Arguably contemporary cinema’s greatest chroniclers of the working class, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne here join forces with one of the most talented performers working today, Marion Cotillard. The actress plays Sandra, an employee at a solar-panel factory in an industrial town in Belgium who took a leave of absence after suffering a bout of crippling depression. Although eager to return to work, the wife and mother of two young children is told that management is offering each of her colleagues a 1,000-euro bonus if they vote to make her redundant. Sandra, still emotionally frail, faces the daunting task of meeting with each of her 16 coworkers over the span of a weekend to convince them why they should forgo the cash and let her resume her position at the company.
On Oct. 20, Timbuktu (2014) will be shown. In his magnificent fourth feature film, Abderrahmane Sissako demonstrates his remarkable ability to thoroughly condemn religious fanaticism and intolerance with subtlety and restraint. Timbuktu concerns the jihadist siege of the Malian city of the title in 2012. A ragtag band of Islamic fundamentalists, hailing from France, Saudi Arabia, and Libya, among other nations, announce their increasingly absurd list of prohibitions—no music, no sports, no socializing—via megaphone to Timbuktu’s denizens, several of whom refuse to follow these strictures, no matter the consequence. Upbraided by a local imam for entering a mosque with guns, the jihadists reveal themselves to be men less concerned with the teachings of the Koran than with enforcing draconian, and ever arbitrary, law.
On Oct. 21, Hiroshima Mon Amour (1959) will be shown. One of the most influential movies ever made, Alain Resnais’s masterwork from 1959 would not only shape the Nouvelle Vague benchmarks made in its wake but also liberate filmmakers from linear storytelling. “[I]n my film time is shattered,” Resnais once said; indeed, Hiroshima Mon Amour, which was scripted by Marguerite Duras, consists of multiple flashbacks, a device that destabilizes chronology. Spanning approximately 36 hours, the movie centers around the time-toggling conversations of two characters, identified only as She (Emmanuelle Riva) and He (Eiji Okada). She is a French actress who has gone to Hiroshima to take part in a film about peace; he is her married lover, a Japanese architect who had served during World War II—and whose family was in Hiroshima the day the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb on the city.
Support for AU’s Tournées Festival is provided by Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the United States, the Centre National de la Cinématographie et l’Image Animée Campus France USA, the Florence Gould Foundation and highbrow entertainment.
Ashland University, ranked in the top 200 colleges and universities in U.S. News and World Report’s National Universities category for 2016, is a mid-sized, private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Ashland University (www.ashland.edu) values the individual student and offers a unique educational experience that combines the challenge of strong, applied academic programs with a faculty and staff who build nurturing relationships with their students.