New professor establishes French Film Festival

Ever heard of Ida, Force Majeure or Venus in Fur? If you’re like most Castleton students who were asked this question, you probably haven’t.

They are foreign films shown mostly at art-house and foreign language theaters: two things uncommon in Vermont. But through the use of a Tournées grant from the French Ministry of Culture, communication professor Michael Talbott hopes to expose students to this kind of art.

“The point of the grant is to allow college campuses to screen these films,” Talbott said. He explained that the organization is connected to the French Embassy and works to increase cultural awareness on college campuses.

Last year, Spanish professor Ana Alexander started the process with a Spanish film festival.

“It was a good introduction for our college to start learning more about world cultures,” Alexander said. “We saw the commonalities between different cultures and also how we are different.”

The conversation had by attendees was what made the festival great, according to Alexander.

“We had some good laughs and also some very serious discussions,” Alexander said. The films ran the gamut of genres. The upcoming films will follow suit, ranging from romantic comedy to animation and everything in between.

Although the Tournées grant is from a French organization, the films are from around the globe. In total there will be six shows taking place on Tuesday and Thursday nights starting March 3. All screenings are at 6 p.m. in Herrick Auditorium and completely free.

Talbott, clearly passionate about this opportunity, said film festivals have a fun atmosphere he hopes students will get the chance to see.  

“I have experience studying film festivals, teaching about film festivals. I’ve been to a dozen or so,” Talbott said. “It’s a great alternative exhibition site.”

Photo Contributed By Michael Talbott
A scene is shown from "A Screaming Man," a film included in the upcoming French Film Festival.

He hopes students will learn to see film as more of an event than just a way to pass time. Several professors have worked the festival into their syllabi to encourage students’ attendance.

Junior communication student Jimmy Britt is required to attend at least two for his sociology class taught by professor Melinda Mills.

“I’ve never been to a film festival,” Britt said. “I want to say I know a fair amount, but I don’t think I do.”

Britt took Intro to Film Studies last semester and had the chance to watch several foreign films in the class. He said he likes to watch films of any genre and looks forward to attending more than just the two required if he has time.

Both Talbott and Alexander hope to make this a reoccurring event and bring even more foreign films to Castleton, such as shows from Bollywood, Italy or Germany.

“We might be a little college, but we’re pretty culturally diverse,” said Alexander. “It’s a great opportunity because we do not have an art theater house. I hope the students will come, and I certainly hope it will be well received.”


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