Originally written for publishing on March 19, 2013.
The fourth annual French Film Festival returned this year last Friday, showcasing specially selected films reflecting French culture and romance. Students, friends, and local citizens all gathered together to view the films that played through a four-night venue.
The film festival opened up on a chilly Friday night, as students and neighbors trickled through the parking lot of the auditorium, creeping towards the entrance of the venue. Everything from upbeat, indie-French background music and the sounds of the occasional person speaking fluent French to the struggling non-native speakers, energized the evening’s mood.
“Le Hérrison” opened the festival. Quirky, just like its protagonist Paloma, the film showed the boredom of an extremely observant and particularly pessimistic eleven year-old girl who decides to end her life on her twelfth birthday.
As Paloma films her daily living with her success-driven father, emotionally stagnant mother drowned by champagne and anti-depressants, and critical older sister, she grows ill of adult living and openly greets her future doom. Only through her newfound friendship with the anti-social apartment concierge and perplexing new tenant does Paloma discover the beauty of life’s struggles and mysteries of finding love.
On Thursday night the French Department held a screening of the film “Le Havre” for the second film. A half comedy, half drama about Marcel Marx, a shoe-shiner in the seaside town of Le Havre, France who takes in a young immigrant from Africa, all the while managing his day-to-day financial stresses and a sickly wife.
According to Daniel Brondi, a French Professor at Fullerton College, the film was a fairytale with no specific reference to time. The storyline continued seamlessly but there were details that hinted that it was one time, then another.
“I thought it was pretty interesting how they took a very dreary and sad topic of illegal immigration and showed it with reality but put this quirky twist to it,” said Hanna Yi, a local Fullerton citizen.
The cinematic style was unique, with prolonged scenes of silence.
“You get this a lot with French films, they keep the camera on after everyone is gone. It added to that funny and awkward feeling that the movie had,” said Yi.
“Les femmes du 6ième Étage” or “The Women on the 6th Floor” was about a group of maids from Spain living together and working for wealthy clients in 1960s Paris. The story is about love, friendship, and social barriers; it is about learning to enjoy life and finding one’s own passion.
The zany characters had the audience roaring with laughter with plenty of sarcasm, jokes, and idiosyncrasies. The women form a community, getting together for paella, dancing, and mass, dreaming about what they will do when they return home to Spain.
The storyline focuses on sweet young Maria and the family that she works for as friendships grow in the most unlikely of circumstances.
Closing the ceremony was “Romantics Anonymous,” a film focused around two socially awkward, chocolate-loving characters.
Angélique, a woman passionate about chocolate and its elegance, possesses the talent to make wonderfully decadent treats but chokes to claim credit for her work. Jean-René, the owner of a failing family-tendered chocolate company, with his own handicap of social interaction, comes to find Angélique applying for a position at the company and welcomes her with no knowledge of her talent.
As the two interact, their lack of knowledge to build relationships is evident but the overflowing emotions of love grow. The viewer discovers the raw emotions a fluttering heart wishes to say uncensored as the two characters grow in unison.
In wonderful delight to the audience, chocolate truffles were graciously dispersed at the films end to encourage a new friend, neighbor, or even love. All chocolates were kindly donated by Lindor chocolate.
The French Film Festival is held each Spring semester by the Humanities Division and put on by the French Department. French Professors from Fullerton College give a short introduction to the films and the audience sat back and enjoyed the opportunity to view a foreign film on the big screen.