Williams College to Present Annual French Film Festival

Media contact: Noelle Lemoine, communications assistant; tele: 413-597-4277; email: [email protected]

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass., January 22, 2019—The 2019 Williams College French Film Festival will take place over three consecutive Mondays at 7 p.m. on February 11, 18, and 25, at Images Cinema, 50 Spring Street, in Williamstown. All screenings are free and open to the public.

This year’s theme, “Transitions: Coming of Age in French and Francophone Adolescent Film” focuses on the child and adolescent French and Francophone film as a site of exploration, transformation, and transitions. Traditionally, coming of age films bring into focus the psychological or moral growth of a male protagonist. The films in this year’s edition help redefine the coming of age story by privileging the perspectives of girls and young women whose experiences trouble expressions of identity, longing, and belonging. Here is the selection:


Monday, Feb. 11, at 7 p.m.:
L’homme sur les quais (The Man by the Shore) (1993) by Raoul Peck.
In French and Kreyol with English subtitles. 106 mins. 

An adult Haitian woman parses memories of her childhood as an 8-year-old during the François Duvalier dictatorship. “Eight-year-old Sarah’s father is a discredited army officer. He and his wife are forced to flee their small rural town by Janvier, a vicious Tonton Macoute strongman. They leave behind Sarah and her two sisters. The children are entrusted to their grandmother, who risks her life to secure them from Janvier, now bent on revenge and dedicated to the new regime. The story is narrated 30 years later by an adult Sarah, whose memories are haunted by nightmares of the man by the shore who put and end to her childhood.”


Nominated for the Golden Palm at the 1993 Cannes film festival. By the director of I am not your negro and The Young Karl Marx.  


Monday, Feb. 18, at 7 p.m.:
Maman(s)  (Mother(s)) (2015) by Maïmouna Doucouré .
In French and Wolof with English subtitles. 21 mins.

Eight-year-old Aida lives with her family in an apartment on the outskirts of Paris. When her father arrives back from a trip to Senegal, the family’s homeland, life radically changes for Aida and the rest of the family. Their father has not returned alone, but is accompanied by a young Senegalese woman, Rama, whom he introduces as his second wife. Aida, aware of how distraught her mother is, then decides to get rid of the newcomer.


2017 César for First Short film, selected at the Sundance Film Festival and the Toronto Film Festival (TIFF).


Monday, Feb. 18, at 7:30 p.m. (following Maman(s)):
Tomboy (2011) by Céline Sciamma (Water Lilies, Girlhood)
In French with English subtitles. 82 mins.

Céline Sciamma’s (Water Lilies and GirlhoodTomboy is the story of a 9-year-old girl, Laure, whose family moves to a new home in the Parisian suburbs during the summer before she starts fourth grade. This simple-seeming premise quickly changes when she decides to pretend to be a boy, Michaël.

Erin Fuchs, Popmatters.com

Jury Award at the 2011 Teddy Awards, given for the best film with LGBT themes at the Berlin film festival, and nominated for the GLAAD Media Award as Outstanding Film.


Monday, Feb. 25, at 7 p.m.:
Polina, danser sa vie (Polina) (2015) by Angelin Preljocaj and Valérie Müller
. In Russian and French with English subtitles. 108 mins.

“Rigorously trained from an early age by a perfectionist instructor, Polina is a promising classical ballet dancer. She is just about to join the prestigious Bolshoi Ballet when she discovers contemporary dance, a revelation that throws everything into question on a profound level.”

Oscilloscope Pictures

Official selection at the Venice Film Festival.

This film festival is made possible with the support of the Williams College Department of Romance Languages and the Center for Foreign Languages, Literatures, and Cultures. The festival was co-organized by Jane Canova of the Center for Foreign Languages and French professor Sophie Saint-Just.


For building locations on the Williams campus, please consult the map outside the driveway entrance to the Security Office located in Hopkins Hall on Main Street (Rte. 2), next to the Thompson Memorial Chapel, or call the Office of Communications 413-597-4277. The map can also be found on the web at www.williams.edu/map