Francophone Film Festival focuses on Arab-French relations

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

Two weeks ago Swarthmore’s fall French Film Festival kicked off with “Raja,” a film about a nineteen-year-old orphan living in Marrakesh. Organized by Francophone Studies coordinator Jimia Boutouba, the movies selected for this semester’s festival offer what she calls “a detailed exploration and a unique critical perspective on postcolonial cultures in North Africa as well as in contemporary France.”

Although non-French students might be intimidated by “Le Festival du Film Francophone” and the fact that all films are in either French or Arabic, all five films also have English subtitles. Furthermore, as Boutouba points out, “given the recent events in France, these films will allow students to have a deeper and more nuanced understanding of the racial distinctions as well as the socio-political situation in contemporary France.”

This semester’s festival is sponsored by the French Embassy, which runs a grant program specifically to encourage the viewing of French films on college campuses.

“Viva Ladgérie” is Boutouba’s favorite film of the lineup for “the way it surpasses many taboos as well as its radical approach to issues of sexuality, homosexuality, religion, tradition and modernity.” Although “Viva Ladgérie” has already been shown, there are still three films left.

“La Grand Voyage” is about a teenage boy driving his aging father to Mecca to help him complete the traditional pilgrimage; “Inch’Allah Dimanche” is the story of an Arab woman’s immigration to France; and “L’Esquive” is about the love lives of a group of multi-ethnic French teenagers. If any of these brief descriptions pique your interest, come to a showing on Wednesday night at seven; as Professor Benjamin Cherel says, “The idea is to open French films to the whole Swarthmore community.”

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