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Tourn?es Festival Will Screen French Films Beginning Oct. 27 University News
For release: October 20, 2010

For press information, contact Jonathan Judaken, 901-488-7475

The University of Memphis Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, in conjunction with the University’s Marcus Orr Center for the Humanities, will present the Tournées Festival on campus beginning next week. Each of the five recent French films, with English subtitles, will be screened at 7 p.m. in the University Center Theatre. All showings are free and open to the public.

The schedule for the showings is: Oct. 27, C’est dur d’etre aime par des cons (It’s Hard Being Loved by Jerks); Nov. 2,Coco avant Chanel (Coco Before Chanel): Nov. 4, Séraphine; Nov. 9, Paris; and Nov. 11, La France.

Paid parking is available in the Zach Curlin garage adjacent to the University Center.

The Tournées Festival is made possible with the support of the Cultural Services of the French Embassy and the French Ministry of Culture, as well as Public Service Funds at the University of Memphis.

More information is available from Dr. Denis D. Grélé via email, ddgrele@memphis.edu, or online at www.frenchtennessee.org/filmfestival

Below are brief descriptions of the films:

C’est dur d’etre aime par des cons

This important documentary on the freedom of the press, censorship, and the right of religious minorities looks at a crucial 2007 Paris trial. Several Islamic organizations brought charges of racist slander against the French news weekly Charlie Hebdo for reprinting 12 satirical cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammed that had originally appeared in a Danish newspaper in 2005. Director Daniel Leconte follows the entire course of the trial, with Philippe Val, editor of Charlie Hebdo (a publication that’s an equal opportunity offender, having spoofed other religions in the past), giving the filmmaker complete access to the magazine’s editorial and strategy meetings.

Coco avant Chanel

Anne Fontaine’s thoughtful exploration of the pre-fame life of the world’s greatest fashion designer focuses on Coco Chanel during the Belle Epoque. The film opens in 1893 with a powerfully grim scene of 10-year-old Coco and her sister unceremoniously dumped at an orphanage and ends about the time of World War I, a few years before the Chanel empire is launched. In her strongest performance to date, Audrey Tautou expertly conveys Chanel’s struggle against the formidable limitations that an ambitious, non-wealthy woman at the time faced, particularly one who refused to marry.

Séraphine

In her last two lead performances, Brussels-born Yolande Moreau has shown exceptional nuance and grace in roles that could easily have toppled lesser actresses. As the title character in Martin Provost’s Séraphine, a real-life naïve artist who died in an insane asylum in 1942, Moreau is unforgettable, courageously forgoing the histrionics usually associated with biopics about the emotionally disturbed. Séraphine, the housekeeper of a German collector, Wilhelm Uhde, who championed her work in the 1920s and ’30s, may answer to the voice of her guardian angel when it commands her to paint and commune with trees, but she also responds quite avidly to the siren call of cash, reveling in the opportunity to splurge once Uhde has sold a few of her works.

Paris

In Cédric Klapisch’s wistful ensemble film about the City of Light, characters of vastly different backgrounds intersect, providing a sense of the multitudes and complexities contained within one of the world’s greatest cities. Cameroonian immigrants try to help their families back home; an imperious manager of a boulangerie begrudgingly approves of her new employee, also from an immigrant family; a middle-aged professor woos a student with Baudelaire-inspired text messages. But the beating heart of Klapisch’s love letter to the city is the relationship between Pierre, a former dancer at the Moulin Rouge, and his older sister, Elise, a divorced, overburdened social worker raising three young children.

La France

Serge Bozon’s La France, co-written with Axelle Ropert, is a drama about the horrors, loneliness, and camaraderie of World War I that intermittently blooms into a delirious musical. “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity,” France’s motto, is dissected throughout Bozon’s movie, which laments the folly of nationalism. Joining the simple, straightforward title of the film are the songs themselves: “England,” “Italy,” “Germany” and “Poland,” all of which begin with the line “I, the blind girl…,” sung by weary soldiers who come to life with their handcrafted string instruments, made from cans and other everyday debris.

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