Film Series

French Film Festival

Mondays, February 12 through 26 at 7pm

La Grande Guerre: Remembering the First World War

Admission is free. Each film will be introduced by Williams College Professor of French Brian Martin. All films are in French with English subtitles.

February 12 @ 7PM: Christian Carion’s Joyeux Noël (2005)
February 19 @ 7PM: Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s A Very Long Engagement (2004)
February 26 @ 7PM: François Ozon’s Frantz (2016)

Titled La Grande Guerre: Remembering the First World War, this year’s Williams College French Film Festival marks the centenary of the Great War with three recent films from France. Collectively, these films examine the impact of the horrifying violence in the trenches of western France on both soldiers and civilians, from the Christmas truce in 1914, to the Battle of the Somme in 1916, to the Armistice in 1918. We hope this film festival will both honor the centenary and educate the Williams campus and larger community about the legacy of the Great War. In this spirit, the Williams Center for Foreign Languages, Literatures, and Cultures (in collaboration with the French and German Programs and Sawyer Library, and in conjunction with several courses focusing on the war) is organizing a series of events in 2018 to commemorate the centenary of the First World War, including: the French Film Festival on La Grande Guerre (February 2018); a speaker series by three leading historians on the effects of the Great War on France, Germany, and Africa (October and November 2018); and an exhibit in Sawyer Library (organized by students, librarians, and archivists in Chapin Library and Special Collections) on archival materials from World War I, including books, letters, and photographs by Williams students and faculty who served in the Great War (May to December 2018).

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Joyeux Noël

Starring: Benno Fürmann, Diane Kruger, Guillaume Canet

This movie is inspired by a true story, which occurred in the trenches of the World War I battlefield on Christmas Eve in 1914. When war breaks out in the summer 1914, it surprises and pulls millions of men in its wake. Christmas arrives, with its snow and multitude of family and army presents, but a surprise comes in the form of an Anglican priest, a French lieutenant, an German tenor and the one he loves, a soprano and singing partner. During this Christmas Eve, the unthinkable happens: soldiers come out of their trenches, leaving their rifles behind to shake hands with the enemy.

  • Director: Christian Carion
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Runtime: 1 hour 56 minutes
  • Genre: Drama, War

“With a cast of Scottish, German and French actors all speaking their own language, writer-director Christian Carion has fashioned a deeply moving and uplifting piece.”

– Hollywood Reporter

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A Very Long Engagement

Starring: Audrey Tautou, Gaspard Ulliel, Jodie Foster

Mathilde (Audrey Tautou) is told that her fiancé (Gaspard Ulliel) has been killed in World War I. She refuses to believe this, however, and begins trying to find out what actually happened on the battlefield the night he was supposedly killed, enlisting the help of a private investigator. During her search, she stumbles across evidence of the inhumane and morally bankrupt system used by the French to deal with deserters, and hears from other men who were sentenced to extreme punishment.

  • Director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet
  • Rating: R
  • Runtime: 2 hours 13 minutes
  • Genre: Drama, War, Romance

“A unique and masterful film, filled with surprises and felicities and moments of transporting visual power.”

– Portland Oregonian

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Frantz

Starring: Paula Beer, Pierre Niney

Set in Germany and France in the immediate aftermath of the First World War, (1914-1918), Frantz recalls the mourning period that follows great national tragedies as seen through the eyes of the war’s “lost generation”: Anna, a bereft young German woman whose fiancé, Frantz, was killed during trench warfare, and Adrien, a French veteran of the war who shows up mysteriously in her town, placing flowers on Frantz’s grave. Adrien’s presence is met with resistance by the small community still reeling from Germany’s defeat, yet Anna gradually gets closer to the handsome and melancholy young man, as she learns of his deep friendship with Frantz, conjured up in evocative flashbacks.

  • Director: François Ozon
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Runtime: 1 hour 53 minutes
  • Genre: Drama, War

“The film sucks you in with its exquisite cinematography (shot in lush black-and-white, with a handful of carefully curated moments in color), and a heavy influence of Thirties and Forties Classic Hollywood filming techniques.”

– Austin Chronicle

This festival is made possible with the generous support of the Williams Department of Romance Languages and the Center for Foreign Languages, Literatures, and Cultures. The festival was co-organized by Jane Canova of the Center for Foreign Languages and French Professor Brian Martin who will introduce the films. All films are in French with English subtitles, and are free and open to the public. Images Cinema is located at 50 Spring Street in Williamstown, MA.