image from the film Portrait of a Lady on Fire
For the third consecutive year, Cornell Cinema teams up with the Department of Romance Studies to present a Francophone Film Festival, made possible, in part, by a grant from the Tournées Film Festival that covers the cost of presenting six of the films in the series. The Festival would not be possible without the enthusiastic involvement of French language lecturer and film specialist, Claire Ménard, who along with other faculty and graduate students in Romance Studies, we expect to be introducing nearly all of the films, which will be attended by students from a variety of French language & culture courses.
The immigrant experience in France is captured in two wildly different films: Nadav Lapid’s Synonyms, about an Israeli who moves to Paris in an attempt to reinvent himself in a world that identifies people by the place they were born, and Med Hondo’s Soleil Ô, a furious howl of resistance against racist oppression and colonialism. That righteous anger carries over to the Québécois adaptation of Antigone, a loose adaptation of Sophocles’ Greek tragedy in which an Algerian-immigrant teenager lashes out against the government that took her brother’s life. (This film is cosponsored with the Department of Classics and is not one of the six subsidized by the Tournées grant.)
Master filmmakers François Ozon and Agnès Varda are both represented in the festival, with Ozon’s By the Grace of God and Varda’s final film Varda by Agnès. Céline Sciamma’s Portrait of a Lady on Fire finally screens with Cornell Cinema after screenings were canceled during last Spring 2020's interrupted season. The 18th century-set film tells the tale of a young aristocrat who falls for the female artist commissioned to paint her wedding portrait.
Finally, practicing physician and filmmaker Thomas Lilti’s latest film The Freshman is a story set in medical school, where class differences are often exasperated in the savagely competitive qualifying exam all med students must take.
Tournées Film Festival is made possible with the support of the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the U.S., the Centre National du Cinéma et de l’Image Animée (CNC), the French American Cultural Fund, Florence Gould Foundation and Highbrow Entertainment. Soleil Ô restored by Cineteca di Bologna at L’Immagine Ritrovata laboratory in collaboration with Med Hondo. Restoration funded by the George Lucas Family Foundation and The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project.