Matt Maniulu ’13
The April in Paris Film Festival has brought a splash of French culture to the Trinity College campus every year since its founding by Professor Emerita of French Sonia Lee. Entering into its 14th year, April in Paris, which began on Sunday, is currently in the midst of nine celebrated French and Francophone films centered around the theme “Tales of Cities.”
The festival is held at Trinity’s Cinestudio and features, among others, a silent film with live piano accompaniment, a conversation with La Fille de Montréal director Jeanne Crépeau, post-film discussions led by Trinity professors, and last but not least, pastries from La Petit France. Surely the Lumière brothers would be proud.
Kicking off the festival on Sunday afternoon was a silent film by Julien Duvivier titled “Au Bonheur des Dames” (The Ladies’ Paradise). The oldest film in the festival—it was released in 1930—“Au Bonheur des Dames” is based on a novel of the same name by Emile Zola. Pianist Patrick Miller accompanied the black and white film, adding a melodic touch to Duvivier’s masterful camerawork.
The 1967 Jacques Tati film “Playtime” was featured on Sunday night, wrapping up the first full day of the festival in classic comedic style. The affable and animated Tati, who plays the iconic Monsieur Hulot in Playtime, is as goofy as ever; he fumbles through a rapidly modernizing world much to our delight.
On Monday the spotlight was on Jean-Luc Godard’s “Deux ou trois choses que je sais d’elle” (Two or Three Things I Know About Her). A politically pointed film by one of the premier New Wave filmmakers, “deux ou trois choses que je sais d’elle tackles” subjects like consumerism, the Vietnam War, and the new suburban life in France.
With this film Godard called once again upon the talents of Raoul Coutard (Breathless, Jules and Jim) as his director of photography. Coutard brilliantly captures the color and style of 1967 Paris, lighting up the screen with super-saturated reds, whites and blues.
Still to come are a collection of contemporary French cinema classics as well as films that have only recentlymade their mark. The 1990 film “Halfaouine: l’enfant des terrasses” (Boy of the Terraces) is a remake of a Tunisian film that came out 71 years prior and tells the tale of a 13 year old boy who feels conflicted about the traditional fundamentalist relationships between men and women in Tunis. While gazing at a women’s bathhouse from a terrace, the protagonist Noura wonders about the unveiled women and the male-dominated world under which they live.
Chris Marker’s 1983 film “Sans Soleil” (Sunless) captures stunning scenes in Japan, Iceland, South Africa in a attempt to dramatize the faults of human memory. In doing this, Marker makes a keen point regarding how humans view foreign cultures. “Sans Soleil” is often cited as a mock-documentary, but it can more accurately described as a visual essay with no main character or distinct narrative.
Rounding out the festival will be André Téchiné’s “Impardonnables” (Unforgivable) on Thursday, Michael Haneke’s Caché (Hidden) on Friday and a double feature on Saturday of “Une vie de chat” (A Cat in Paris), an animated film by Jean-Loup Felicioli and Alain Gagnol, and finally Crépeau’s 2010 film “La fille de Montréal” (A Montreal Girl). April in Paris is sponsored by L’Alliance Francaise de Hartford, SODEC and La Délégation du Québec à Boston among others. Principal Lecturer in Language and Cultural Studies Karen Humphreys heads the Festival Committee. Students can take a course in conjunction with the film festival for a half credit.
All students must attend the film showings, participate in two mandatory workshops and complete coursework.