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Resistance, a film series

Resistance, a film series


2017 Project submitted by Columbia University | Embassy of France support: $ 4000

Project coordinators : Souleymane Bachir Diagne and Shanny Peer

Summary of the Project

The Columbia Maison Française initiated and presented in October 2016 a film series, Filming at the Borders, on the theme of migrating to Europe Today.  The series, curated by Nora Philippe,  included fiction films, documentaries, and a short film, all of which were filmed in France or a French-speaking country, or created by French directors or producers.  Many of the selected films had never or rarely been screened in the U.S. Each screening was followed by a discussion with the director (most of whom came to New York for the series), the curator, and one or two invited academics from Columbia or other universities, coming from a variety of disciplines, including history, law, film studies, French studies, sociology, and philosophy. The series was a remarkable success, with high quality discussions after the screenings, very high audience turnout (80 to 100 for most of the films), excellent feedback, and very positive feedback from all of the series sponsors.  Indeed it was so successful that we decided to organize a second series in 2017 following a similar format, curated by Nora Philippe, on the theme this time of “Resistance.”

This film series will be co-sponsored by the Columbia Maison Française and the School of the Arts – Film Program.  As in 2016, other departments at Columbia may be included as co-sponsors to help publicize the series: the European Institute, History Department, Columbia Center for Contemporary Critical Theory, and Alliance Program, among others.

The film series will feature 6 or 7 films, presented over a two week period in October 2017, with the film screenings followed by discussions with the curator, director if s/he can be present, and invited academics from Columbia and other universities.  Most screenings will be presented at the Maison Francaise, though some may be presented in the state-of-the-art projection room in the new Lenfest School of the Arts Building that will open in spring 2017.

In keeping with the mission of the Maison Française, this series will offer a carefully curated selection of films that share a connection to France, the French-speaking world, and the French language.  Because the French film industry is the second most active in the world, and notably cosmopolitan, the selected films will offer a variety of voices, perspectives, and treatments on the resistance in a range of historical and political contexts.

Although resistance can be mounted to many different kinds of forces, for the purpose of this film series, we will select films that treat in particular resistance to political or ideological regimes.  The forms of resistance depicted in the films will range from non-collaboration to much more deliberate forms of action, and from stories about individuals (the figure of the “Just”) to organized, armed resistance, to forms of spontaneous collective revolt against regimes that deny rights and liberties, including those that have marked recent history.  More subtle forms of resistance will also be considered, including daily personal actions and choices that stand up against dominant or oppressive structures.  The film series will aim not just to illustrate stories or themes, or offer historical narratives of resistance, but will also explore how filmmaking itself can also be an act of resistance – whether because of the conditions in which a film is produced, dangers undertaken to film acts of resistance in the making, or formal choices and techniques that can in themselves constitute acts of resistance.