Mercer French Film Festival brings classic and contemporary French cinema to campus

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French professor Mercer Alexis L. Chauchois created the French Film Festival, sponsored by the Franco-American Cultural Exchange Foundation (FACE).

Chauchois came up with the idea after deciding to teach a French film class to attract younger generations’ interest in film and television. The class was successful, inspiring him to offer the opportunity to the university as a whole.

“Your generation is more of a screen generation, so generally when you learn French as a language, as a culture, it’s through books, through literature, and so I thought it would be interesting to ‘learn the French language and culture through cinema,’ said Chauchois.

After the course, Chauchois heard about the FACE scholarships from a colleague and applied, receiving one during the winter break.

“My goal is to make a festival for students, by students,” Chauchois said.

He incorporated his three courts to help with the festival, with the two upper-level courts helping to organize and run it. Along with his classes, he received help from the Department of Journalism and Media Studies in setting up the festival.

“For me, it was important that it was collaborative work instead of something that would be just for French students or concerned with French at university,” Chauchois said.

The French 252 course was divided into groups of two to three students per film. They were responsible for preparing the presentation before the screening and the Q&A session.

French 302 was responsible for promoting the festival, including flyers and posters. They are required to attend the screening and then write a review of the film in French. French 111 students are required to attend screenings in order to get used to hearing spoken French.

The festival is structured so that there is a presentation before the screening and a Q&A session afterwards. The presentation provides key information for the film, such as directors and actors, presented by the 252 French students. They will then show the film, subtitled in English. Finally, they host a 10-15 minute Q&A session.

The festival has already had its first three screenings on March 15, 17 and 29 of the films “Slalom”, “History of a three-day pass (La Permission)” and “Conte d’été (Summer’s Tale)”. which are a mix of contemporary and classic films. As part of the scholarship that Chauchois received, he must present three classic films, a contemporary film and a film from Alice Diop’s selection. The selection will change each year.

Chauchois selected the films in the selection because of their relevance today. The first film reminded him of the 2016 gym sex abuse scandal. “Slalom,” released in 2021 after the #MeToo movement, is about a teenage ski prodigy and her relationship with her predatory coach. The second film “The Story of a Three Day Pass (La Permission)” was actually not allowed to be filmed in the United States and is about a black soldier demoted for his relationship with a white French woman .

“Each film has something special that the students can take away from this film, which is why I chose them. All of them would be good to screen, but I have to make choices, so I thought of what it would be more important for them to take with them,” Chauchois said.

Chauchois plans to hold the festival again next year with more time to plan it. He wants to encourage more than Mercer students, but others like high school students, to be able to attend.

There are four other screenings for the following films: “La Société du spectacle (La Société du spectacle)”, “35 Shots of Rum (35 rhums)” and “Le jolie mois de mai (Le Joli Mai)”. The screenings will take place respectively on March 31, April 5 and April 7 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Stetson 251.


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