Providence French Film Festival 2017
An annual event since 1998, the Providence French Film Festival will be held this February 25 through March 4, with all screenings at the Cable Car Cinema. Although the event is presented by Brown University, the films are not academically oriented and are open to the public.
Richard Blakely, director of the festival, credited Dan Kamil, owner of the Cable Car, with helping to “get all of the films we really wanted to get this time, which is very rare.” Blakely added, “One thing I’m very proud of is that all of the films are very recent.” The oldest of the 15 films is from 2015.
Director Antonin Peretjatko is scheduled to attend and hold a question-and-answer session at the screening of his La loi de la jungle (The Law of the Jungle) at 6pm on Saturday, March 4. In French Guiana, an enclave on the northeast coast of South America that is legally part of France, a young male bureaucrat is sent to inspect an outlandish tourism project — an indoor ski slope being constructed on the edge of the Amazon jungle in the equatorial climate — and he is assigned a female assistant named “Tarzan.” Blakely described it as “classic French slapstick comedy.”
Focusing on a Moroccan-born single mother raising two daughters, the younger of high school age and the older studying for medical school, Fatima, directed by Philippe Faucon, is a drama inspired by a semi-autobiographical writer who gave her own name to her main character in Prière à la lune (Prayer to the moon) and Enfin, je peux marcher seule (Finally, I can walk alone) by Fatima el-Ayoubi, works quoted in the guise of letters to her daughters. The film dominated the 2016 César Awards, the French version of the Oscars, winning Best Film, Most Promising Actress and Best Adaptation. Soria Zeroual was nominated for, but did not win, the Best Actress César for the title role playing an immigrant housecleaner and was, in fact, working as a housecleaner and had no acting experience before being cast.
Wùlu, a directorial debut from Daouda Coulibaly, is a politically oriented organized crime thriller set in Mali, a former French colony beset by desperate poverty. Blakely described it as “a West African Scarface.”
Swagger, from director Olivier Babinet, is a documentary about teenagers growing up in a rough suburb of Paris known for rioting in 2005, and their dreams “amid the political climate,” Blakely said.
Cézanne et moi (Cézanne and Me) is a biographical drama about the lifelong friendship between artist Paul Cézanne and writer-journalist Émile Zola that turned tumultuous when Zola wrote a character in a novel based upon Cézanne. Director Danièle Thompson is best known as the screenwriter of her Oscar-nominated Cousin, cousine, which also earned her the first of five César Award nominations for screenplays.
Blakely notes that Danièle Thompson is the mother of Christopher Thompson, who is married to Géraldine Pailhas, who stars in La nouvelle vie de Paul Sneijder (The New Life of Paul Sneijder) directed by Thomas Vincent, and members of the family have occasionally attended festival screenings because of their connections to Brown. In Vincent’s film featuring a number of famous French film stars, the protagonist survives an elevator accident that kills his daughter, giving him an enhanced awareness of his environment that he cannot shut out or control.
Frantz from director François Ozon is a black-and-white period drama based upon the great Ernst Lubitsch anti-war classic Broken Lullaby from 1932, in turn based upon the Maurice Rostand French-language play L’homme que j’ai tué (The Man that I Killed) from 1921. In the aftermath of the First World War, the fiancée of a German soldier killed in the war is intrigued by a Frenchman who regularly lays flowers on the grave.
New York-born expatriate director Eugène Green is known for subtle theological themes, and he brings that to Le fils de Joseph (The Son of Joseph), about a boy searching for his unknown father, a satirical farce that parallels the Christian Nativity story. It also features Maria de Medeiros in a minor role. Notable for playing Anaïs Nin in Henry & June and Fabienne in Pulp Fiction, she is worth watching in anything.
Sponsors listed on the festival website are the Department of French Studies and the Department of Modern Culture and Media at Brown University, the Malcolm S. Forbes Center for Culture and Media Studies, and the Sevaux Family Film and Lecture Endowment. Providence French Film Festival: brown.edu/campus-life/events/french-film-festival . Film descriptions (English): brown.edu/campus-life/events/french-film-festival/film-descriptions Facebook: facebook.com/providencefrenchfilmfestival; Cable Car Cinema, 204 S Main St, PVD. Telephone: 401-272-3970 Web: cablecarcinema.com