French Rural Classics, Sundance Winner ‘Son of Monarchs’, Two Great Women-Directed Films

It’s Farrebique/Biquefarre week! (Say that three times fast).

As part of Cornell Cinema’s 50th anniversary celebrations, we’re screening two films that have some deep, historical significance for Cornell Cinema. First up is Farrebique (Mon & Wed) (pictured), the first film to win the FIPRESCI Prize at the very first Cannes Film Festival in 1946. Infamously, the film showed out of competition because the selection committee rejected it, with one member stating, "I don’t consider cow dung to be photogenic material.” Fortunately, the International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI) saw in Farrebique a lyrical portrait of rural life in Provence, staged with non-professional performers acting out events in their own lives. It’s a captivating film, existing somewhere between Robert Flaherty and Luc Bresson. 

In April 1978, Cornell Cinema invited the film's director, George Rouquier, for a retrospective that included Farrebique. Then-director of Cornell Cinema, William Gilcher, struck up a friendship with Rouquier, and the two decided to make a companion film called Biquefarre, revisiting the same area and its farmers nearly 40 years after the first film was made.

Cornell Cinema will host a discussion with Gilcher via Zoom after Monday’s screening of Farrebique, and we will present a recorded introduction by him with our Thursday screening of Biquefarre, which will screen on 35mm from Cornell Cinema’s collection. Additionally, we hope to soon share a recording of a lecture given by Gilcher in 1985 about the production of Biquefarre, currently in process of digitization by Cornell University Library. Keep an eye out for that! 

You can learn more about both films by reading film critic Richard Brody's 2017 New Yorker article “Farrebique and Biquefarre: Two Classic Hybrids of Fiction and Nonfiction".

On Tuesday night, we’ll show Son of Monarchs, featuring a post-screening panel discussion with director Alexis Gambis, Robert Reed (Ecology & Evolutionary Biology), Natasha Raheja (Anthropology) and Ithaca College professor Camilo Malagon (Latin American Cinema), moderated by Shannon Gleeson (ILR Labor History). The film is a fictional portrait of a Mexican biologist (modeled after CU professor Robert Reed), who returns to his hometown, nestled among the majestic monarch Butterfly forests of Michoacán. 

Also screening this week is Vera Chytilová’s anarchic feminist masterpiece Daisies (Wed & Fri), as well as Chloé Zhao’s breakout film The Rider (Thurs & Fri). Daisies was recently ranked #5 on indiewire's list of the all-time greatest films directed by women, and The Rider, #11. See them both this week!

Cornell Cinema be closed for Fall Break starting Saturday through next Tuesday.

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Image from the film FARREBIQUE