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Event celebrates French cinema

Megan Loney | Friday, February 20, 2009

Saint Mary’s returns to its French roots with the annual French Film Festival taking place this week in the Vander Vennet Theatre in the Student Center.

A grant through the Tournées Program of the French American Cultural Exchange, part of the French Cultural Services, enabled the College to show five films during the week, one each evening, Monday through Friday at 7 p.m.

Senior French major Katie Lescanic and Associate Professor of Modern Languages Mana Derakhshani chose the five films that will be shown from a catalog sent by a granting agency. Derakhshani said there was no particular theme that they tried to follow when selecting the films.

“These [movies] had received the most acclaim and were the ones we wanted to see,” Derakhshani said. “All are very recent, from the last three years.”

The films cover a variety of topics. “La Faute à Fidel (Blame it on Fidel)” is the story of a nine-year old girl trying to make sense of key political events happening around her. “Molière” is a historical fiction film about a young actor who is released from prison in exchange for acting lessons.

In “Ne le dis à personne (Tell No One),” a man tries to prove his innocence in his wife’s murder. “L’origine de la tendresse and Other Tales” is a compilation of six short films that represent the diversity of the French people.

“Persepolis” is an animated film about a young Iranian girl whose parents send her to school in Vienna to ensure her safety.

Even though Saint Mary’s is hosting the event, the festival is free and open to the public.

“The Film Festival is something special that Saint Mary’s has been able to offer its own community and the Michiana community,” Derakhshani said. “It offers an additional resource to students of French in the area – from Saint Mary’s and other colleges, universities and secondary schools in the area – to hear authentic language and be exposed to the cinematic art as well as the cultural contexts of the language they are studying.”

Derakhshani said she is expecting a good turnout, as long as the weather allows for easy travel. In the past, the Festival has had a strong turnout with about 50 people present each night, she said.

“In the past years, attendance depended somewhat on the weather,” Derakhshani said. “We often had very cold temperatures or ice and snow, which made it harder for people to come out.”

Derakhshani said the Festival is important because she believes being exposed to other cultures through events such as this foreign film festival is vital.

“Foreign films are just one more way in which we can get to learn something about other cultures,” Derakhshani said. “They provide an opportunity to become more aware of the world outside the borders of our nation.”