French film festival returns to the Hill

Bryson Keltner

For the fifth year in a row, WKU will be hosting the Tournées French Film Festival from Monday, Oct. 17 to Wednesday, Oct. 26.

The event was made possible by a national grant sponsored by the French Ministry of Culture and the French Embassy.

“As a result of our numerous international connections and our status as the state’s only public university with a film major, WKU is in a prime position to host an event that spotlights issues that are becoming even more central to popular culture,” Jerod Ra’Del Hollyfield, festival director and assistant English professor, said in a press release.

Since Monday, Oct. 17, the event has featured three films, and it will show three more films from Monday, Oct. 24 to Wednesday, Oct. 26, of next week. They will each begin at 7 p.m. in Cherry Hall 125.

When Hollyfield came to WKU in 2012, he brought the festival from where he was previously employed at Louisiana State University. Hollyfield said the festival has had a large influence on the prosperity of WKU’s film program, but he wishes it will create something bigger.

“My hope is that the festival will foster discussion between WKU and the greater Bowling Green community about how contemporary French cinema has a rich history of addressing otherness and migrancy in a way that is applicable to our own region,” Hollyfield said in a press release.

Each of the films have a tie to adolescence in post-colonial French culture; however, some also highlight immigration and Islamic culture in Europe.

“’The School of Babel’ is a documentary about a school that teaches French to immigrants,” Hollyfield said. It will be featured on Monday, Oct 24.

Chocolat, a film featured in the 1988 Cannes Film Festival, will be playing on Tuesday, Oct. 25. It spotlights a French girl’s childhood in Cameroon, a colony in France.

The finale on Wednesday, Oct. 26, will feature the film, “My Friend Victoria.” It is an adaptation of a short story by Nobel Prize winner, Doris Lessing, Hollyfield said.

“It tells the story of a black woman living with a white bourgeois family,” Hollyfield said. “Years later, she has an affair with one of the family members and they have a child together.”

Holyfield said in a press release he sought a series of films that would appeal to scholars from a wide range of departments –– many of whom will be on hand to moderate post-screening discussions.

English professor Ted Hovet will be introducing “My Friend Victoria” and leading the discussion after the film.

“I’m just very excited to see a series that gives us a better understanding of France and French cinema, especially its more global elements,” Hovet wrote in an email.

Other moderators include faculty from the department of modern languages, pop culture studies, film program, English, gender and women’s studies program as well as students in the new MFA screenwriting program.

“One of the best aspects of WKU is seeing how the work we’re doing in one department relates to what others are working on in completely different fields,” Holyfield said in a press release.

Ian LaBarge, a junior film major from Paducah, attended the showing of “Mustang.” He said the film was a good way to put students in a different world for a while.

“It’s good because the festival has free, fun movie events that also allow you to learn at the same time,” LaBarge said.

Both Hollyfield and Hovet said they have been pleased with the turnout for the festival so far.

“We’ve been very happy with the turnout, but hope for even more during the second week of the festival,” Hovet said.

Reporter Bryson Keltner can be reached at 270-745-6011 and [email protected].