‘Tis the season for francophiles in the Ocean State. As Salve Regina University in Newport celebrates its 11th year appreciating the best in French cinema, viewers get to watch up to six French films (with English subtitles, of course!). This year’s coordinator is Dr. Dean de la Motte, a professor of French at the University. “The Alliance Française of Newport has been involved from the beginning,” he said. “The public for the festival has always been a mix of community members, students and faculty.”
The opening screening for the festival used to be held at the Jane Pickens Theatre in Newport, but as part of an ongoing effort to bring the Salve Regina and greater Newport communities together, some things have changed.
“We are working with different constituencies on campus to raise the profile of the festival,” he explained. “Even our food service, Sodexo, will prepare French food all day on the Friday prior to the festival.”
A number of groups across campus are co-sponsoring the festival, both academic and administrative. “This year we made a concerted effort to involve more students, faculty and staff,” de la Motte explained. Anyone with a Salve Regina ID card is granted free access to each screening, all of which will be screened on campus in the O’Hare Academic Center’s Bazarsky Lecture Hall (Salve Regina University, 100 Ochre Point Ave, Newport). There’s even a student discussion hosted by the Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy the day after one of the films.
3 coeurs / 3 Hearts: Sun, Apr 3, 4pm; Wine and cheese reception to follow in McAuley Hall (adjacent to Bazarsky)
After Paris-based tax auditor Marc (Benoit Poelvoorde) misses his train home, he spends the night in a small town in southern France, where he meets the melancholic Sylvie (Charlotte Gainsbourg). Drawn to each other, they never exchange names or numbers, instead agreeing to meet by a fountain at the Jardin des Tuileries in the French capital. This romantic plan is thwarted, however, when Marc, en route to the destination, suffers severe chest pains and is rushed to the hospital. Dejected, Sylvie returns to her unhappy marriage and soon leaves for the US. Marc, meanwhile, meets and falls in love with another woman, Sophie (Chiara Mastroianni), who, unbeknownst to him, is Sylvie’s beloved sister.
Bande de filles / Girlhood: Tue, Apr 5, 7pm
Celine Sciamma’s third feature focuses on Marieme (Karidja Toure), a 16-year-old who absorbs the wrath of her older brother and assumes responsibility for her two younger sisters while their mother works the night shift. She falls in with a triad of tough girls, abandoning her braids for straightened hair and her hoodie for a leather jacket. Girlhood follows Marieme as she moves toward adulthood while consistently being reminded of her limited options.
Timbuktu: Thu, Apr 7, 7pm
In his magnificent fourth feature film, Abderrahmane Sissako demonstrates his remarkable ability to condemn religious fanaticism and intolerance with subtlety and restraint. Timbuktu concerns the jihadist siege of the Malian city in 2012. A ragtag band of Islamic fundamentalists announce their increasingly absurd list of prohibitions via megaphone to Timbuktu’s denizens, several of whom refuse to follow these strictures, no matter the consequence.
Deux jours, une nuit / Two Days, One Night: Sun, Apr 10, 3pm; A coffee and pastry reception at 2pm
Acclaimed directors Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne 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 learns that management is offering each of her colleagues a 1,000 euro bonus if they vote to make her redundant. Sandra meets each of her 16 coworkers over a weekend to convince them to forgo the cash and let her resume her position at the company. These encounters reveal the Dardenne brothers’ signature compassion for characters torn asunder by the demands of late capitalism.
La religieuse / The Nun: Tue, Apr 12; 7pm
In Guillaume Nicloux’s adaptation of Denis Diderot’s 18th-century novel, Pauline Etienne plays Suzanne Simonin, a devout 16-year-old who, lacking a dowry and a vocation, is forced by her aristocratic, though financially troubled, parents to enter a convent. Although her time in the nunnery was supposed to be short, Suzanne soon finds herself imprisoned in the abbey when her mother announces her daughter is an illegitimate child and must expiate the family’s sins by staying in the convent indefinitely. A scathing examination of religious hypocrisy and a profound treatise on freedom, Nicloux’s adaptation also stars the great Isabelle Huppert and Louise Bourgoin.
Hiroshima mon amour / Hiroshima, My Love: Thu, Apr 14, 7pm
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 liberate filmmakers from linear storytelling. “[I]n my film time is shattered,” Resnais once said. Hiroshima mon amour, which was scripted by Marguerite Duras, consists of multiple flashbacks. Spanning approximately 36 hours, the movie centers around the time-toggling conversations of two characters, the French actress known only as She (Emmanuelle Riva) and Japanese architect known as He (Eiji Okada). While the two reflect on the horrors of wartime — She on living in a Nazi-occupied country, He on the incineration of more than 100,000 of his compatriots — they begin to debate the unreliability of memory.
The Salve Regina University French Film Festival runs from April 3 – 14. For more details about the festival, visit salve.edu/french-film-festival. Patrons are encouraged to purchase tickets and passes in advance online: web.ovationtix.com/trs/cal/29095.