Cameron University’s annual French Film Festival returns for the third year with six contemporary French language films on August 18-20 and August 25-27. Films slated for week one of the festival are “My Mother’s Castle,” “Beauty and the Beast” and “”Haute Cuisine.” Week two will feature “Le Concert,” “The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-sec” and “The French Minister.” Screenings will take place in the University Theatre at 6:30 p.m. and are open to the public at no charge.
“The films selected for Cameron’s Third Annual French Film Festival provide something for everyone,” says Marie-Ginette Baillargeon, festival director. “The Thursday night films are ideal for a date night, the Friday night films were selected with family viewing in mind, and the Saturday night films are appropriate for mature audiences.”
Here’s a look at the films selected for this year’s festival:
Thursday, August 18: “My Mother’s Castle” (“Le Château de ma mère”)
The second installment of director/playwright/screenwriter Marcel Pagnol’s memoirs of his youth and adolescence in France of the beginning of the 20th century, this 1990 coming of age story focuses on Marcel, who daydreams about the nearby hills where he and his family spend vacations. And then something marvelous happens: his mother persuades his father, a schoolteacher, to allow the family to spend each weekend at the cottage. Because they have no car, they must ride public transport part of the way, then walk the remaining five miles. A former pupil of Joseph's shows them a shortcut that crosses private estates and reduces the distance to only one mile. So the family enjoys weekend after wonderful weekend in the hills. Marcel plays with a country boy, picks thyme for the family's alfresco dinners, and meets a girl whom he rescues from spiders. These carefree weekend outings continue until one day a heartless watchman charges the Pagnols with trespassing on an estate on their way to the cottage. (PG)
Friday, August 19: Beauty and the Beast (“Le Belle et la Bète”)
A 2014 Franco-German production, this 112-minute film is a romantic fantasy based on the traditional fairy tale. Set in 1810, an unexpected romance blooms after the youngest daughter of a merchant who has fallen on hard times offers herself to the mysterious beast to which her father has become indebted. At the Beast's castle, Belle discovers a strange life in which fantastical moments mingle with gaiety and melancholy. Every night, Belle and the Beast sit down together at dinner and slowly learn about one another. Belle tries to pierce the mysteries of the Beast and his domain. When night falls, the Beast's past is revealed to her bit by bit in her dreams. It is a tragic story, which tells her that this solitary and fearsome being was once a majestic prince. Armed with courage and opening her heart, Belle manages to release the Beast from his curse. (PG-13)
Saturday, August 20: “Haute Cuisine” (“Les Saveurs du Palais”)
Released in 2012, this 95-minute comedy-drama is based on the true story of Danièle Mazet-Delpeuch and her appointment as the private chef for French President François Mitterrand. Hortense Laborie is a talented successful cook, living in relative obscurity in Périgord. Much to her astonishment, she is recruited by the President of the Republic for her ability to create dishes that remind him of his childhood. He appoints her his personal cook, making her the first woman ever responsible for creating meals in the kitchen of the Élysée Palace. Hortense's indomitable spirit and tireless devotion to the art of authentic cuisine quickly win her the unflinching support of the President. Despite the prestige of her new position, she discovers the unexpected challenges of rigid protocol and bureaucracy inside the Palace. As the battle for influence over the head-of-state wages on among the kitchen staff, Hortense sets out to prove that she can take the heat. (PG-13)
Thursday, August 25, “Le Concert”
Released in 2009, this two-hour comedy-drama focuses on Andrei Filipov, who 30 years ago was the greatest conductor in the Soviet Union, directing the famous Bolshoi Orchestra. After refusing to abandon his Jewish musicians, including his best friend Sacha, he was fired. He still works at the Bolshoi, but as a janitor. One evening, he comes across a fax addressed to the Director. It is an invitation from the Theatre du Chatelet inviting the Bolshoi Orchestra to come and play in Paris. Suddenly, Andrei has a crazy idea: why not bring together his old musician friends and take them to Paris, passing them off as the Bolshoi? He hides the invitation and proceeds to recruit 55 former musicians to travel to Paris to perform Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concert in D Major, Op. 35. (PG-13)
Friday, August 26: “The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-sec” (Les Aventures extraordinaires d'Adèle Blanc-Sec)
Loosely based on the popular historical comic book of the same name, this 2010 fantasy adventure is set in the late 1800s. The 107-minute film follows Adele Blanc-Sec as she travels far and wide in search of ancient treasures and knowledge. Adele seeks the mummified remains of Patmosis, who she believes served as Ramses II’s physician and may hold the key to solve her sister’s medical condition. But as with all her adventures, this one is full of hiccups, from backstabbing hired hands to the villainous - and quite ugly - Dieuleveult. Meanwhile, back in Paris, Le professeur Menard, whom Adele needs to awaken Patmosis, conducts a strange ritual which awakens a baby pterodactyl from its egg. The Paris authorities are none too happy about that and sentence Menard to death for the murders committed by the beast, leaving Adele, upon her return, no choice but to find a way to save Menard from certain death. (Rated PG)
Saturday, August 27: “The French Minister” ("Quai d'Orsay")
A 2013 comedy derived from a graphic novel, this 113-minute movie observes the travails of Arthur Vlaminck, a recent graduate of the country's top public administration college. He's hired as a speechwriter during an oblique job interview with the foreign minister, Alexandre Taillard de Worms, a powerful and impressive figure who has Arthur’s head spinning. Confused and frustrated, Arthur turns to Taillard's aides for clarification. Crusty, pragmatic chief of staff Claude Maupas offers good advice; others are less reliable. Not only must Arthur learn to deal with the sensibilities of the boss and his entourage, he must cope with the special advisers who stalk the corridors of the Quai d'Orsay - the ministry's home - where stress, ambition and dirty dealing are the daily currency. Just as he thinks he can influence the fate of the world, everything seems threatened by the inertia of the technocrats. (Not rated; suggested rating PG-13 for strong language and brief nudity.)
The Third Annual French Film Festival is presented by the Cameron University International Film Club, the Magic Lantern Film Society, Phi Sigma Iota and Sigma Tau Delta. Funding has been provided by the Oklahoma Humanities Council (OHC), the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and Cameron University Lectures and Concerts Series.
For more information about Cameron University’s Third Annual Film Festival, contact Dr. Marie-Ginette Baillargeon at 581-2262 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Facebook at Cameron University French Film Festival.