French film fest gets underway this month

Students have access to a unique opportunity this semester because of a ten-year-old postcard. Dr. Michael Howarth, associate prof of English and director of the Honors Program, was a doctoral student when he received a postcard about the Tournées Festival, which started a chain of events that brought a six film festival, $2200 grant, and a rare experience to Missouri Southern courtesy of the French-American Cultural Exchange (FACE) Foundation. 

“I received the postcard in my mailbox at the office at the University of Louisiana,” Howarth said. “I’d had the post card for probably 10 years but you know, you get busy… you shove things to the back of a drawer, and you go I was going to do this. It was on my academic bucket list.”

“It’s a prestigious grant awarded every year to select universities across the country,” said Howarth. “I spoke with Amber Carr, marketing and outreach librarian, and we thought this would be a great opportunity for Missouri Southern, especially with our international mission.”

The two put together a proposal for the FACE Foundation. Then, in conjunction with Shannon Connoly, lecturer of foreign language, they chose which films would show after being approved. FACE requires six films to show in four weeks. Of the six, one must be a classic French film while the others must be pulled from a featured or alternate selections list. Southern must pay for the $2200, which is then reimbursed by FACE at the end of the festival. 

“It wasn’t easy picking only six films off the list,” Howarth said. 

The films include: 

“The Women on the 6th Floor” March 30, 3 – 5 p.m.:  a comedy about a well-to-do man who befriends the maids of his apartment building, only to be accused by his wife of having an affair.

“The Artist” April 1, 1 – 3 p.m.: a story about a silent film actor mentoring a young star whose popularity rises as his own declines with his reluctance to accept talking movies. 

“Declaration of War” April 8, 1-3 p.m.: a slice of life film about a young couple combatting the devastating illness of their son. 

“Cave of Forgotten Dreams” April 13, 3-5 p.m.:  a documentary and the first film access to prehistoric cave paintings in the south of France that are the earliest known human art. 

“A Summer’s Tale” April 15, 1-3 p.m.: a romance about a young man who, thinking he’s been abandoned by his girlfriend, befriends two other women on a summer vacation and must find the love of his life before the end of summer. 

 “Tales of the Night” April 19, 6:30 – 8: 30 p.m.: an animated film that uses silhouette animation to tell fairy tales.

“That is a special film to me,” Howarth said. “We wanted a movie parents could bring their children to.” 

Each film will have an introduction by a Southern faculty member versed in the subject, who will host an in theater discussion on the film’s themes after the showing.  

All films will be shown in French with English subtitles, with the exception of “Tales of the Night,” which will be shown dubbed in English. 

The film “Blue is the Warmest Color” was also considered but was cut from the final running. The Spiva Library is instead offering a book club that will read and discuss the themes of the graphic novel and then review the film independently of the festival. 

Screenings will start the week after spring break. The event is free to Southern students and their families. Parents are encouraged to bring children to “Tales of the Night.”