French film festival ‘opens students up to diversity’

Bradie Gray

Instead of traveling to Utah or flipping through Sundance Film Festival’s Snapchat MyStory to experience a film festival, USI students, along with the rest of the community, can walk over to Forum I in the Wright Administration Building at Fridays at 7 p.m. to experience unique films.

The College of Liberal Arts and the World Languages and Cultures Department are hosting a French Film Festival, The Tournées, for which they are showing six critically-acclaimed French films.

All films will include English subtitles, so those who do not speak French can still attend.

The two spear-heads of the project are assistant professors of French Dr. Emily Teising and Dr. Jessica Garcés Jensen.

“We both thought that it would be a great way to create interest and excitement about French outside of the classroom at USI and for the other languages as well,” Teising said. “The language and culture are such an important part of what we do, so we hope that we can create excitement about it.”

To bring the film festival to life, Teising and Jensen applied for grants to assist with the monetary aspects of putting on such an event.

“It actually started with the Spanish Film Festival last year, which showed five Spanish films, and we thought it would be a great tradition to start since we have seven different languages in our department,” Teising said. “So we got two different grants to host the film festival.”

They got one from the French American Cultural Exchange (FACE), which offers grants to universities to host festivals.

Along with acquiring grants, Teising said preparation for the film festival was a lot of work.

“It’s a fair amount of administrative work involved in coordinating it,” she said. “We’ve really had a ton of help from students as well, which is why it has been such a success so far. We had about eight USI students who came out on Friday who helped put up signs so people knew where to go because there were people from off campus who came.”

Teising said last Friday’s film attracted about 120 attendees.

French major Rachel Schumm is one of the many students helping with the film festival. She is putting together a small introduction to read to the audience before the animated film “Ernest & Celestine,” which will be shown Feb. 6.

“To prepare for the introduction, I needed to look up a plot summary and the history of the film and find out why it was so popular and how they turned a French book into a film in both English and French,” Schumm said. “I’m not 100 percent done with my research yet.”

As a French student, she is required to go to at least two films and bring guests, but she said she will be attending the remaining five and urges students to do the same.

“I think the first thing students need to understand is that we’ll have subtitles,” Schum said. “These films open you up to a whole world of films that have subtitles. It helps you learn how to read those subtitles while still focusing on the content. Watching films in other languages broadens the horizons and opens people up to diversity.”