Mercer French professor Alexis L. Chauchois created the French Film Festival, sponsored by the French-American Cultural Exchange Foundation (FACE).
Chauchois came up with the idea after deciding to teach a French cinema class to appeal to 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 generation of the screen, so usually 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 French language and culture through film,” Chauchois said.
After the course, Chauchois learned about the FACE grants from a colleague and applied, receiving one over the winter break.
“My goal is to make a festival for students, by students,” Chauchois said.
He incorporated his three classes into helping with the festival, with both upper-level courses helping organize and run it. Along with his classes, he received help from the Journalism and Media Studies Department in setting up the festival.
“For me, it was important that it was a collaborative work instead of something that would just be for the French students or concerned with French in the university,” Chauchois said.
The French 252 course was divided into groups of two to three students per film. They were responsible for coming up with the presentation before the screening and the Q&A session.
French 302 was responsible for promoting the festival, including flyers and posters. They’re required to attend the screening and then write a review about the film in French. French 111 students are required to attend screenings in order to get used to hearing French spoken.
The festival is structured so that there’s a presentation before the screening and a Q&A session afterward. The presentation provides key information for the film, such as directors and actors, presented by French 252 students. They then will show the film, which has English subtitles. Finally, they hold a Q&A session for 10 to 15 minutes.
The festival has already had its first three screenings on March 15, 17 and 29 of the films “Slalom,” “The Story of a Three Day Pass (La Permission)” and “A Tale of Summer (Conte d’Eté),” which are a mix of contemporary and classic films. As part of the grant that Chauchois received, he’s required to show three classic films, one contemporary film, and one film out of the selection of Alice Diop. The selection will change every year.
Chauchois selected the films from the selection because of their relevance today. The first film reminded him of the gymnastics sexual abuse scandal from 2016. “Slalom,” released in 2021 after the #MeToo movement, is about a teenage ski prodigy and her relationship with her predatorial coach. The second film “The Story of a Three Day Pass (La Permission)” was actually not allowed to be made in the United States and is about a Black soldier being demoted for his relationship with a white French woman.
“Every film has something special that students can take from this film, so that’s why I chose them. All of them would be good to screen, but I have to make choices, so I thought what would be more important for them to take with them,” Chauchois said.
Chauchois plans on hosting the festival again next year with more time to plan it. He wants to encourage more than just Mercer students, but others like high school students, to be able to attend.
There are four more screenings for the following films: “The Society of the Spectacle (La Société du spectacle),” “35 Shots of Rum (35 rhums)” and “The Lovely Month of May (Le Joli Mai).” The screenings are set to take place on March 31, April 5 and April 7 respectively from 6 to 9 p.m. in Stetson 251.