Feb. 25, 2004


Lewisburg, Pa. — The area's third annual French film festival — officially titled "Le Festival du Cinéma Français 2004" — will begin this Friday (Feb. 27) at The Campus Theatre in downtown Lewisburg. Running through March 4, the festival will present a wide variety of films, ranging from contemporary releases of action films, dramas and documentaries to restored 35-mm prints of French classics.

Screenings will be at the Campus Theatre and at two different locations on the Bucknell University campus (see schedule, below). Bucknell and the Theatre are major sponsors of the festival, which is also supported by a New York-based cultural agency and a number of local community groups.

"The festival is now becoming a February tradition, a sort of rendez-vous for lovers of films and art," said Philippe Dubois, co-coordinator of the festival and assistant professor of French at Bucknell. "Curious members of the community have been asking about the program since December."

According to Dubois, the festival is an important cultural event that documents the historical evolution of French cinema.

The centerpiece of this year's festival is a 2003 release called Les Triplettes de Belleville, or The Triplets of Belleville. Written by Sylvain Chomet, the film does not use dialogue, but relies on music, sound effects, and imaginative animation to carry the plot.

Here's a plot summary of the film:

When her grandson, Champion, is mysteriously kidnapped during the Tour de France, Madame Souza and her faithful dog Bruno set off on a humorous expedition to rescue him. Their travels take them to Belleville, wherein they encounter the renowned Triplets of Belleville, "three eccentric female music-hall stars from the '30s who decide to take Madame Souza and Bruno under their wing."

The New York Times praised Les Triplettes for "its affirmation of French ingenuity, French history and French idiosyncrasy," calling it the "sensation of the [Cannes] festival."

Critical and popular acclaim has earned Les Triplettes two Academy Award nominations in 2004 for best animated feature film and best song, "Belleville Rendez-vous."

The festival will begin on Friday, Feb. 27, with a reception at 6 p.m. at The Campus Theatre. The reception is open to the public. Following the reception, the screenings start with the area premiere of Les Triplettes, at 7 and 9 p.m. at the Theatre. Repeat showings at the Campus Theatre are scheduled throughout the week.

A total of seven French films, all with English subtitles, will be shown during the course of the festival.

The festival is a collaborative effort, involving the Theatre, Bucknell's department of foreign language programs, a New York-based cultural agency, other institutions of higher education, and a number of local community groups.

The festival was provided for in large part by a grant from the Society for French-American Cultural Services and Educational Aid (FACSEA), a New York-based nonprofit agency associated with the French Embassy and the French Ministry of Culture. Its mission is to promote French culture in American schools and universities.

"The grant from FACSEA, as well as the support from Bucknell and various local communities, underlines the area's growing interest in French culture," said Dubois.

In addition to FACSEA, festival sponsors include the following: Bucknell's French and Francophone Studies Program and French Club, Bucknell's English Department, the Association for the Arts, Lycoming College's Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, and Susquehanna University's Department of Modern Languages.

This program was made possible in part by The Library of Congress Motion Picture Division.

Last year's French film festival ran Feb. 21-27 at the Campus Theatre and on Bucknell's campus.

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For more information on the series, go to the Campus Theatre website at http://www.thecampustheatre.com/, or contact the Theatre at 570/524-9628. Or phone Theatre manager Mary Bannon at 570/524-9629.

LIST OF FILMS AT THE 'FESTIVAL DU CINEMA FRANÇAIS'

Below is a listing of festival films, including screening times, dates, locations, and thumbnail descriptions, from the Campus Theatre website at http://www.thecampustheatre.com/

LES TRIPLETTES DE BELLEVILLE (The Triplets of Belleville)

(2003, Sylvain Chomet, PG-13, 78 minutes)

When her grandson is kidnapped during the Tour de France, Madame Souza and her beloved pooch Bruno team up with the Belleville sisters — an aged song and dance unit from the days of Fred Astaire — to rescue him. The look is unique: a hand-drawn, digital combination of `Betty Boop,' `Felix the Cat,' and `Return of the King.' The jazz score delivers the right tone of hip and haste. The style is more `South Park' than `Toy Story.' This film may well be "the most imaginative lampoon of two societies in at least a decade."

Location:

  • Campus Theatre, Friday, Feb. 27, 7 p.m., 9 p.m.

  • Campus Theatre, Saturday, Feb. 28, 7 p.m., 9 p.m.

  • Campus Theatre, Sunday, Feb. 29, 5 p.m., 7 p.m.

  • Campus Theatre, Monday, March 1, 7 p.m.

  • Campus Theatre, Tuesday, March 2, 7 p.m.

  • Campus Theatre, Wednesday, March 3, 7 p.m.

  • Campus Theatre, Thursday, March 4, 7 p.m.

LE CERCLE ROUGE

(1970, Jean-Pierre Melville, not rated, 140 minutes)

Jean-Pierre Melville, father of the French New Wave, inspiration for Godard and Truffaut, and later Jarmusch, Tarantino and John Woo, was in top form in 1970 with Le Cercle Rouge: a cool, elegant masterpiece of film noir featuring taciturn, professional criminals with codes of honor harking back to the days of the Samurai. Deliberately paced, with every action, every gesture given its full weight, the film generates suspense through the very inevitability of its involuted plot.

Location: Campus Theatre, Saturday, Feb. 28, 2 p.m.

L'HOMME DU TRAIN (Man on the Train)

(2002, Patrice Leconte, R, 90 minutes)

Late autumn in a sleepy, provincial town in the French Alps, Milan, a taciturn tough-guy, arrives with a mission: to rob a bank in three days' time. Manesquier, a retired schoolteacher and bachelor who has spent his life in the comfort of the family villa, is due to undergo heart surgery on the same day. The two strangers meet by chance in a pharmacy. So begins an unlikely friendship between two opposites, each who sees in the other the vestigial aspects of himself.

Location: Trout Auditorium, Vaughan Literature Building, Bucknell, Sunday, Feb. 29, 3 p.m.

LE BOSSU (On Guard!)

(1998, Philippe de Broca, not rated, 128 minutes)

In this infectiously charming swashbuckler, peppered with rousing sword fights,

romance, mistaken identities, court intrigue and a deliciously detestable villain, de Broca brings Feval's serialized novel to life with convincing period atmosphere and picturesque locations. "On Guard restores some of the bygone delights of childhood moviegoing."

Location: Trout Auditorium, Vaughan Literature Building, Bucknell, Sunday, Feb. 29, 5 p.m.

INCH'ALLAH DIMANCHE

(2001, Yamina Benguigui, not rated, 97 minutes)

In this comedy/drama, Algerian-born Zouina sets sail from Algiers with her mother-in-law and her two young children to join her husband, Ahmed, who works in northern France. Constantly harassed by her mother-in-law and forced to live under the suspicious gaze of xenophobic neighbors, Zouina lives in exile in her own home. Two women befriend her and support her in her quest for autonomy. With these reinforcements, she finds the strength to confront her husband and an entire patriarchal tradition.

Location: Trout Auditorium, Vaughan Literature Building, Bucknell, Monday, March 1, 7 p.m.

LES GLANEURS ET LA GLANEUSE (The Gleaners and I)

(2000, Anes Varda, not rated, 82 minutes)

Centuries ago, gleaners were peasant women who gathered bits of wheat left behind after the harvest. Modern-day gleaners come in both sexes, all ages and social backgrounds - some glean out of necessity for survival, some for art, some just for fun. Agnes Varda's documentary takes a look at these people to find out how they survive and why they glean. "A collection of images that stays with you."

Location: Rooke Chemistry 116, Bucknell University, Wednesday, March 3, 7 p.m.

JE RENTRE è LA MAISON (I'm Going Home)

(2001, Manoel de Olivera, not rated, 90 minutes)

While playing the aging monarch in Ionesco's absurdist drama, Exit the King, the famous and respected actor Gilbert Valence goes back stage to learn that his wife, daughter and son-in-law have just been killed in a car accident. Left to take care of his young grandson, Valence continues with his life when asked at short notice to play Buck Mulligan in a film adaptation of Joyce's Ulysses. A quiet and lucid meditation on aging, death and bereavement, the film is neither sentimental nor tragic, but rather a celebration of the small pleasures in life.

Location: Trout Auditorium, Vaughan Literature Building, Bucknell, Thursday, March 4, 7 p.m.

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