Armstrong Holds Fifth Annual Francophone Film Festival
(Feb. 5, 2013) Armstrong announces its fifth annual Francophone Film Festival, a four-day festival devoted to French cinema of many genres. The Francophone film festival is organized by the Armstrong French Club and sponsored by the Office of International Studies, the International Students Organization and the Department of Languages, Literature and Philosophy. All films will be screened in the Armstrong Student Union’s Ogeechee Theatre, 11935 Abercorn Street, and are free and open to the public.
The Francophone Festival will commence on Thursday, Feb. 21, at 7:00 p.m., with a screening of the Oscar Award-winning film “The Artist.” The event will open with introductory remarks about French culture in the southeast from Dennis Blackburn, Savannah’s Honorary Consul to France and Germany. A reception, also open to the public, will follow “The Artist” and will feature French culinary delights provided by downtown Savannah’s Papillote restaurant.
In addition to “The Artist,” the Francophone Film Festival will feature two dramas, “Domaine” and “La Princesse de Montpensier,” and two animated films, “Les Contes de la Nuit” and “Un Vie de Chat.” Schedule and times can be found below.
Armstrong Francophone Film Festival
Ogeechee Theatre, Armstrong Student Union
11935 Abercorn St.
Savannah, Ga. 31419
Thursday, Feb. 21, 7:00 p.m.
Introductory remarks by Denis Blackburne, Honorary Consul to France and Germany
Reception to follow the film
A delightful homage to silent-era Hollywood, Michel Hazanavicius’s mostly silent film opens in 1927, when preening matinee idol George Valentin is still the top draw at Kinograph Studios. Ignoring the increasingly icy glares his wife aims at him across the breakfast table, George acts as a mentor to Peppy Miller, a chorus girl with big ambitions. “The Artist” tracks both Peppy’s ascent and George’s decline, as he refuses to acknowledge synchronized sound as more than a passing fad. By 1932, Peppy is attracting lines around the block for her latest film, “Beauty Spot,” while George spends his afternoons passed out on a barroom floor, his Jack Russell terrier his sole remaining fan. Or so the fading star thinks: Peppy’s never forgotten him, and the film’s concluding act is one of the most buoyant in recent memory. The movie pivots on the spry connection between Dujardin and Bejo, both nimble performers and elegantly turned out in period finery and pomade. “The Artist,” which was shot at 22 frames per second and utilizes the boxy 1:33 aspect ratio, also expertly deploys many of the technical aspects of the silent period.
Friday, Feb. 22, 6:00 p.m.
Fearless performer Béatrice Dalle has, in the past decade, played a cannibal, the Queen of the Northern Hemisphere and a fetus-snatcher. As Nadia in writer-director Patric Chiha’s bold first feature, “Domain,” Dalle might have a more cerebral profession—a mathematician who specializes in Gödel—but her capacity for destruction, both of herself and others via bottomless glasses of white wine, remains just as infinite. “Words are disorder,” the magnetic intellectual announces—one of the many insights that draw her 17-year-old nephew, Pierre, to her. Forgoing peers his own age, Pierre joins his impeccably stylish aunt for Saturday strolls in the park; at nightclubs where, in the film’s best set piece, the mixed gay-straight crowd dances with dreamlike slowness; and at cafés where Nadia's alcoholism unleashes a lacerating tongue. As his aunt’s dissipation eclipses her charm, Pierre starts to distance himself from her, finally responding to the blond, bearded guy who’s been eyeing him for weeks. Dalle unravels inexorably but with decadent dignity, and Chiha’s singular film never relies on cliché in its examination of illness, disappointment and abandonment.
Friday, Feb. 22, 8:30 p.m.
“La Princesse de Montpensier” (“The Princess of Montpensier”)
Based on the 1622 novel of the same name by Madame de Lafayette, Bertrand Tavernier’s supple, gripping historical epic unfolds during the French Wars of Religion (1562–98), which pitted Catholics against Protestants and ravaged the nation. The film centers on Marie de Mézières, who, though in love with one man, the Duke de Guise, is married off by her politically calculating father to the Prince of Montpensier, whose own father proves just as scheming. Even more men pine for the great beauty: the Duke d’Anjou and the Count de Chabannes, the prince’s former tutor, who watches over Marie when her husband is called to fight. Matching the intensity of the stunning battles fought on vast hillsides are the more intimate struggles and interpersonal clashes taking place behind closed castle doors: between headstrong Marie and her father, between the rivals for her affection and, most touchingly, between the gentle Count de Chabannes, a man of God, and the barbarity of the world.
Saturday Feb. 23, 6:00 p.m.
“Les Contes de la Nuit” (“Tales of the Night”)
The esteemed animator Michel Ocelot, best known for “Kirikou and the Sorceress” (1998) and “Azur and Asmar” (2006), returns with “Tales of the Night,” his first film shot in 3D. This collection of six marvelous, visually bold fairy tales is rendered in a “shadow puppet style,” with silhouetted characters set against gorgeously colored, Day-Glo backgrounds. Propelling the stories in motion are a young actor and actress, who meet with an older screenwriter to bring their imaginative fables to life, inserting themselves into their own fantasies. These stories span the globe and historical eras, taking place in the Caribbean, medieval Europe, an Aztec kingdom, Africa, Tibet and the Land of the Dead. Each episode introduces a host of amazing creations: werewolves, giant bees, dragons, sorcerers, talking horses and rival kings. And each, in telling the tale of how a young man overcomes obstacles to win the hand of a princess, takes a decidedly wry, ironic turn.
“Une Vie de Chat” (“A Cat in Paris”)
With a visual style that recalls Matisse and a flair for suspense reminiscent of Hitchcock, Jean-Loup Felicioli and Alain Gagnol’s exhilarating hand-drawn animated film tells the story of a cat with not nine but two lives. During the day, kitty Dino lives with Zoe, a mute little girl whose mother works as a detective for the Parisian police. At night, Dino becomes the accomplice of Nico, a good-hearted burglar who leaps from rooftop to rooftop with balletic grace. The sly cat’s double life is exposed when Zoe decides to see what her beloved feline does after dark—an escapade that leads her into the clutches of the gangster who murdered her father. Dino and Nico—the cat and the cat burglar—join forces to save the young girl, a heroic act that culminates at the top of Notre Dame. “A Cat in Paris” is a delightful homage to French policiers, with a four-legged star destined to be remembered as one of cinema’s most charismatic felines.