Date Change: Thursday, March 23, in Oechsle Hall, 224

Campus sponsor:  Tapestries

Writer-director Philippe Faucon’s long-running project of making films
about those members of the French population traditionally left off-screen
reaches a state of grace in Fatima, perfectly balancing sharp observation
of the harsh realities of the immigrant experience with an inspiring story of
individual resilience. Fatima is a middle-aged, divorced Algerian woman living
in a French suburb, cleaning houses and offices from dawn to dusk to provide
her spirited teenage daughters with a better future. It takes a workplace
accident for Fatima to finally pay attention to her own needs and discover a
powerful means of expressing them through poetry. Working with tremendous
economy, Faucon brings the eye of an anthropologist and the feeling of a
true artist to a story that touches on a variety of essential issues: everyday
racism, illiteracy, the challenges of the French university system, and the
clash between traditional, older immigrant generations and their assimilating
children. Loosely based on a true story and featuring a superbly crafted, stoic
performance by real-life cleaning lady Soria Zeroual, Fatima was awarded the
French film industry’s two highest distinctions for 2015, the Prix Louis Delluc
and the César for best film of the year.

Credits & Trailer:

Philippe Faucon

Philippe Faucon, Aziza Boudjellal,
Mustapha Kharmoudi, Yasmina
Nini-Faucon, Fatima Elayoubi

Chawki Amari
Kenza Noah Aiche
Zita Hanrot
Soria Zeroual

French & Arabic
79 min.
France, 2016

La Noire de

Wednesday, February 28,  in Oechsle Hall, 224

The first film by Senegalese master Ousmane Sembène and the first feature
produced in sub-Saharan Africa, Black Girl is the story of Diouana, an illiterate
nursemaid from Dakar who follows her French employers to the Côte d’Azur
with dreams of discovering France. But once in Antibes, she finds herself
enslaved, trapped in the couple’s well-appointed holiday apartment and
on the receiving end of their domestic frustrations. Her ensuing rebellion is
both a desperate act and one of the great cries of cinematic outrage. Despite
its short running time, Black Girl is an extraordinarily dense film, packed
with unexpected narrative turns and human and political insight. The rage
at its heart is concealed by the clean lines of Sembène’s black and white
photography of the south of France and Dakar, his seductive montage, and the
hum of Senegalese pop music on the soundtrack. But make no mistake: this is
a work of subversion, a human-scaled tragedy for the age of anti-colonialism.
As an on-the-ground analysis of the cause and effects of domination, it
has few rivals. As a powerful example of cinema’s ability to give voice to thedisenfranchised, it stands alone as a painfully timely, masterful work of art.

Trailer & Credits

Ousmane Sembène

Ousmane Sembène

M’Bissine Thérèse Diop
Anne-Marie Jelinek
Robert Fontaine
Momar Nar Sene

French, Wolof
Black Girl (1966) – 59 min.
Borom Sarret (1963) – 30 min.
France, Senegal

Examen d’ Etat / National Diploma

Wednesday, February 21,  in Oechsle Auditorium

In the Congo, passing the national baccalaureate exam can save a young
person from a life of manual labor and open the doors to university and a
career. To fail the exam is to be fated to struggle for survival through menial
work. As Congolese filmmaker Dieudo Hamadi’s documentary National
Diploma so powerfully shows, the path to success in the national exam is
full of challenges. We see a school principal come into a prep classroom and
summon those students who have not paid their fees to pay up now or leave.
Those who stay aren’t much better off: the teachers are striking because they
haven’t been paid. So an enterprising group of students rents a house to cram
for the exam. Yet Hamadi’s fly-on-the-wall camera reveals study methods that
are as surprising to Western eyes as they are endemic in the Congo: students
visit marabouts for medicinal plants, get preachers to bless their pens or
exorcize them, and, most importantly, pay recent graduates for cheat sheets.
Working in classic cinema vérité style, Hamadi follows the group of students
through the exam to the nerve-wracking announcement of the results,
providing an indelible portrait of the role of education in Congolese society.

Credits & Trailer:

Dieudo Hamadi

Dieudo Hamadi

Joël, Jonathan, Roger, Florence,

92 min.
Congo, France, 2014

Les Combattants / Love at First Fight

Wednesday, February 14 in Oechsle Hall, 224

Thomas Cailley’s thoroughly delightful first film upends the cliché of
the “meet cute.” Set during the summer in a coastal town in southwest
France (the area beautifully shot by David Cailley, the director’s brother),
Love at First Fight follows the unlikely attraction that develops between
Arnaud (Kévin Azaïs), a mild-mannered woodworker and carpenter, and
Madeleine (Adèle Haenel), a doomsday-obsessed graduate student
preparing for an elite army unit. The two initially encounter each other
at, of all places, a self-defense demonstration on the beach, where
Madeleine easily throws Arnaud to the ground. Both embarrassed and
intrigued by his opponent, the young man soon finds himself enrolling in
the same intensive two-week boot camp that Madeleine is attending, in
the hopes, perhaps, of figuring out his puzzling new acquaintance. When
this training course proves dissatisfying to both of them, they break
away, setting out on their own makeshift survival course. As in the best
comedies about mismatched couples, much of the enormous appeal of
Love at First Fight is rooted in the terrific chemistry between Azaïs and
Haenel, two of France’s brightest young talents.

Credits & Trailer:

Thomas Cailley

Thomas Cailley and Claude Le Pape

Kévin Azaïs
Adèle Haenel

GENRE Comedy / Romance
RUNNING TIME 98’https://youtu.be/1gRqJAJ-H-U
PRODUCTION France, 2014

Ma Vie de courgette /My Life as a Zucchini

Wednesday, February 7, 2018 in Oechsle Hall, 224

Though bravely realistic, Swiss director Claude Barras’s charming stopmotion
animated film is an unexpectedly uplifting look at childhood tragedy.
After his alcoholic mother’s death, nine-year-old Icare—known to his friends
as Zucchini—is placed in a group home where he soon forms alliances and
rivalries with a group of kids in equally difficult circumstances, including the
son of drug addicts and the daughter of a deported refugee. But it takes the
arrival of the recently orphaned Camille for Zuchini to know he has found a
friend for life. Which means that when Camille’s nasty aunt appears to take
her away, the kids band together to find a way to keep her at the home. Though
Barras and screenwriter Céline Sciamma (a powerhouse of contemporary
French cinema as the writer/director of international hit Girlhood) never pull
punches in describing the challenges faced by their characters, My Life as a
Zucchini is imbued with a real-life sense of childhood wonder, both through its
inventive animation and its commitment to exclusively telling the story from
the children’s perspective. The result is a marvelously nuanced, finely crafted
depiction of childhood, as appealing to young people as adults. Following a
triumphant premiere at the Director’s Fortnight at the Cannes Film Festival,
My Life as a Zucchini wooed general audiences in France with its idiosyncratic
style and bold treatment of its subject. It has since been nominated for a 2017
Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.

Credits and Trailer

Claude Barras

Céline Sciamma
CAST (Voices)

FRENCH Version:
Gaspard Schlatter
Sixtine Murate
Paulin Jaccoud
Michel Vuillermoz

ENGLISH Version:
Will Forte
Nick Offerman
Ellen Page
Amy Sedaris

Coming-of-Age, Animation, Family
68 min.
France, Switzerland, 2016
Blu-Ray, DCP


7 PM Wednesday, January 31 in Oechsle Hall, 224

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. In one instance of such defiance, perhaps
Timbuktu’s most indelible scene, a group of boys “play” soccer with an
invisible ball; in another, a woman who has been sentenced to be flogged
for singing continues her song between lashes (her punishment depicted
discreetly). 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. As further proof of Sissako’s great compassion, even these horribly
misguided dogmatists are presented as multidimensional characters,
though the intolerant way of life they insist on is never less than criminal.

Trailer and Credits (FACE):

Abderrahmane Sissako

Abderrahmane Sissako and Kessen Tall

Pino Desperado
Fatoumata Diawara
Abel Jafri
Toulou Kiki
Kettly Noël
Hichem Yacoubi

LANGUAGE Arabic, Bambara, French, English, Songhay, and Tamasheq
PRODUCTION France, Mauritania, 2014