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Connecting Through Storytelling

The 2021 Virtual Tournées French Film presented by Roger Williams University in collaboration with Flickers' Rhode Island International Film Festival




BRISTOL, RI: Roger Williams University (RWU) and Flickers' Rhode Island International Film Festival (RIIFF) are proud to collaborate in the presentation of the Seventh Annual RWU Tournées French Film Festival. The theme for this year’s Festival is “Connecting through Storytelling.” The Festival will take place over a six-day period, April 5-10, 2021 and will be free to the general public and campus community as a virtual event.. The RWU Tournées French Film Festival was made possible by a $2,200 grant from the French American Cultural Exchange, a New York-based nonprofit that promotes French culture through grants and special projects in arts and education.


The RWU Tournées French Film Festival will present six new and classic French feature films, (all with English subtitles); along with a selection of shorts films that the Flickers' Rhode Island International Film Festival will premiere through its partnership with UNIFRANCE set to precede each feature.


For the past few decades, an array of contemporary French filmmakers have sought to use film as a means to wrest us from the illusions provided by the narrative of global connectivity. Often focusing on protagonists who exist outside dominant culture, or who feel detached from it, these filmmakers have tried to illuminate the realities of social oppression, isolation and alienation, while simultaneously foregrounding the powerful human desire for acceptance, intimacy and belonging.


The Seventh Annual RWU Tournées French Film Festival offers films that continue on in this vein. Each film centers on characters struggling to make social connections in a world that is often constructed to keep them apart.


Aesthetically, these films eschew Hollywood’s affinity for vibrant imagery, hyper-kinetic editing, broad characterizations and closed endings. Long-takes, hand-held-cameras, natural dialogue, complex characters and ambiguous narratives are used to create cinematic experiences that feel like life-as-it-is-lived; these are all films that invite the audience to engage with the world, rather than escape from it.


Full 2021 Tournées Schedule:


MONDAY, APRIL 5, 2021 at 6:00 p.m.
Director: Nadav Lapid | 123 min. France, Israel, 2019
With his third feature and first film set in France, Israeli writer-director Nadav Lapid provides an incendiary reminder that cinema is most powerful when it raises questions rather than provides answers, when every shot seems born of the desire to try out a new idea rather than bow to narrative convention, and when every scene feels as inevitable as it is surprising. With Synonyms, Lapid turned to his own experience as a young exile in France twenty years ago to tell the story of Yoav, a young Israeli who arrives in Paris knowing no one and barely speaking French but committed to forgetting his homeland and becoming a Frenchman. On his first night in Paris, Yoav is robbed of everything he owns and throws himself on the mercy of a bourgeois couple who will become his guides in the French approach to art, friendship, and sex. But the shadow of Yoav’s troubled native land is never far away. Subversively funny, brilliantly executed, constantly astonishing, and tragic in its political implications, Synonyms won a richly deserved Golden Bear at the 2019 Berlin Film Festival, confirming Nadav Lapid’s reputation as one of the most promising filmmakers to emerge in the last decade.


TUESDAY, APRIL 6, 2021 at 6:00 p.m.
Director: Agnès Varda | 120 min. France, 2019
Varda by Agnès, the last film by the late great Agnès Varda, is a typically joyous, digressive, and revealing ramble through the director’s work, based on a series of lectures she gave in the last years of her life. Composed of numerous clips from Varda’s films and public appearances, as well as extensive documentation of her gallery installations, the film provides both an introduction to and a summation of the extraordinary achievement of the woman who kicked off the French New Wave with La Pointe Courte, a groundbreaking, independently financed mix of poetic realism and documentary, and continued to make epochal narrative films (Cleo from 5 to 7; One Sings, the Other Doesn’t; Vagabond) and pioneering documentary works that combined a boundless curiosity about the world and a generous art of self-revelation (The Gleaners and I; Faces Places). But as anyone who has ever seen an Agnès Varda movie knows, Varda would not simply be satisfied with retreading her accomplishments: this is a film as open to the future as it is to the past, full of insight and inspiration for young filmmakers, artists, and thinkers, and imbued with Varda’s incomparable swiftness of thought and warmth of feeling.


WEDNESDAY, APRIL 7, 2021 at 6:00 p.m.
Director: Nicolas Champeaux & Gilles Porte | 144 min. France, South Africa, 2018
In October 1963, Nelson Mandela and nine other leaders of the banned African National Congress appeared before the Pretoria High Court in the apartheid state of South Africa. This diverse group of fighters against apartheid included members of various African peoples, white Jewish South Africans, and an Indian Muslim, all of whom were accused of sabotage and potentially faced the death penalty. While there are no images of the nine-month trial that followed, the 256 hours of audio recorded include some of Nelson Mandela’s most fiery declarations of faith. After the tapes were restored by the French National audiovisual Institute in 2012, French journalist Nicolas Champeaux and director Gilles Porte decided to use them as the basis for this documentary about the trial that led to sentences of life imprisonment for Mandela and his comrades but proved to be a watershed moment in the national and international resistance to racist segregation. Using dramatic charcoal animation to illustrate the trial tapes and contemporary interviews with survivors and witnesses including Winnie Mandela to comment on the events, Champeaux and Porte have created a galvanizing account of this battle against injustice, with subtle reminders that the fight is not over yet.


THURSDAY, APRIL 8, 2021 at 6:00 p.m.
Director: Marie Losier | 73 min. France, 2019
For close to twenty years, filmmaker Marie Losier has been making singular portraits of the artists and originals of her era, filming the everyday lives of legends like Tony Conrad or Genesis P-Orridge and augmenting them with her vision of their dreams and fantasy lives. With Cassandro, the Exotico!, she turns her inimitable gaze upon Saúl Armendáriz, better known as Cassandro, a legend of lucha libre, the wildly popular form of Mexican wrestling. Cassandro is a leading exotico, a wrestler who appears in drag but is every bit as formidable as his macho opponents. Unlike most exoticos, Cassandro is openly gay and an outspoken champion of the marginalized. While the film catches Cassandro as he makes the difficult decision to retire and nearly loses his hard-won sobriety, it avoids sensationalism through the obvious bond between filmmaker and subject. With her off-screen laugh and the handcrafted feel of her 16 mm images creating an intimate environment, Losier invites Cassandro to open up, capturing the traces of the painful history that have made him such an emblem of resilience, from the literal battle scars that dot his body to the evidence of the psychic damage of a life lived against the grain


FRIDAY, APRIL 9, 2021 at 6:00 p.m.
Director: Christophe Honoré | 86 min. France, 2019
After accidentally revealing her long history of meaningless flings to her husband—who doesn’t find
them as meaningless as she does—middle-aged professor Maria leaves her home in Paris and checks in to a hotel across the street for a night of soul-searching. But before she has a chance to get too far with her introspection she is visited by a familiar-looking young man: her husband as he was twenty years earlier, when she first encountered him, soon followed by a host of other figures from her past. With this fanciful notion of a mature woman taking stock of her life through encounters with her ghosts, leading French auteur Christophe Honoré sends a love letter to cinema, indulging his taste for light-hearted melodrama, theatrical situations and settings reminiscent of Alain Resnais, and the comedy of remarriage associated with Hollywood greats like Howard Hawks and George Cukor. Yet On a Magical Night is more than anything else a singular tribute to a wonderful actress, Chiara Mastroianni, who has appeared in six of Honoré’s films but never ceases to astonish with her mix of elegance and awkwardness, style and vulnerability.


SATURDAY, APRIL 10, 2021 at 2:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.
New and Classic French Short Films
A memorable collection of award-winning short films celebrating the Francophone experience across the globe. The program is curated from the archives of the Academy Award qualifying, Flickers’ Rhode Island International Film Festival.


Director: Éric Rohmer | 106 min. France, 1981
To celebrate the centennial of Eric Rohmer’s birth, Tournées offers a film from his delightful “Comedies and Proverbs,” a series of discrete films that represented both a return to the principles with which Rohmer and his Nouvelle Vague friends Truffaut, Godard, and Rivette revolutionized filmmaking— shooting on real streets with young unknowns, privileging spontaneity over the industry rulebook—and a break with what had previously defined his cinema. Where his first successes were devoted to middle-aged bourgeois intellectuals, inclined to analyze their feelings rather than act upon them, the “Comedies and Proverbs” found Rohmer turning to dynamic young characters from a variety of class backgrounds and exploring new areas of French society. In The Aviator’s Wife, the male lead is a young postman who stumbles upon his girlfriend with an airline pilot. He begins tailing the pilot through Paris, soon joined in this endeavor by Lucie, an impetuous teenager drawn to his odd behavior. While the narrative conceit is slight and the economy of means extreme, this first film in the “Comedies and Proverbs” is a remarkable distillation of Rohmer’s art, in which the streets and parks of Paris turn into a soundstage for his playful examination of the misunderstandings of young love.


Program accessible at this URL: https://prog.tsharp.xyz/en/riiff/7




For more information, call Flickers at (401) 861.4445.

The Seventh Annual RWU Tournées French Film Festival is made possible with the support of the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the US, the Centre National de la Cinématographie et de l’Image Animée, and the Franco-American Cultural Fund. The Festival is presented in collaboration with the RWU School of Humanities, Arts and Education, Dean Cynthia Scheinberg, and RWU Department of Communication, Graphic Design and Web Development, Dr. Robert Cole, Department Chair.