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Manchester hosts Tournées international film festival

Manchester University offers the Tournées Film Festival, a series of six films by francophone directors, between Feb. 13 and March 12 on its North Manchester campus.

The films are all free and open to the public. Manchester Activities Council will provide refreshments, and campus organizations have planned activities to accompany each event.

Return of the HeroLe Retour du Héros (Return of the Hero): 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 13, Cordier Auditorium

This romantic comedy directed by Laurent Tirard kicks off the festival. It is a period piece about a swashbuckling conman and his attempts to pass himself off as a war hero. Slapstick antics ensue as Capt. Neuville attempts to keep up the charade as the one woman who knows his secret seeks to unmask him. 

The opening night film is followed by a faculty panel called “An Interdisciplinary Look at Love,” including Tim Brauch (mathematics), Michelle Calka (communication studies), Jared Friesen (sociology), Katharine Ings (English) and Justin Lasser (religion). Student presenters are Kelleen Cullison (English major, peace studies minor) and Laura Mejía (dual major in French and health communication). The film includes some explicit language and would probably be rated PG in the United States.

Beginning at 6:15 p.m., attendees can make multilingual Valentines at craft stations hosted by the MU student French Club, Artists Anonymous and Hispanos Unidos, and pose with VIPs at the Red Carpet Selfie Stand.  To participate in the Valentine’s Day-themed costume contest, dress as your favorite famous couple, someone you love or something  you love.

L’Atalante: 6 p.m. Friday, Feb. 14, Academic Center’s Link Auditorium, Room 101

A classic love story, L’Atalante depicts a newlywed couple’s first months, living on a river barge with a gruff first mate and a band of unruly cats. Jean Vigo’s masterpiece about love, longing and loneliness is often hailed as one of the most beautiful films of early French cinema. French Club members will lead French Trivia, and Sodexo food services will cater crêpes. Note to undergraduates: This does not carry VIA credit.

James Baldwin, courtesy Magnolia Pictures, by Bob AdelmanI Am Not Your Negro: 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 26, Cordier

Constructed from the words of James Baldwin’s unfinished memoir, Raoul Peck’s documentary melds archival footage with Baldwin’s observations about systemic injustice in the United States.  After years of living abroad in Paris, Baldwin considers what it means to be black in America following the deaths of civil rights activists and personal friends, the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X and Medgar Evers.  

More than 40 years later, Peck explores the contemporary implications of Baldwin’s words. This film includes explicit language and scenes of racial violence. It is rated PG-13. Faculty participating in a panel on “Race and Place” include Alicia Dailey (social work), Mike Staudenmaier (history), Benson Onyeji (political science) and Beate Gilliar (English). Student presenter is Chris François (peace studies major and French minor). This is the only film in the festival in English. The rest have subtitles in English.

TBA: 1 p.m. Sunday, March 1, Cordier

The Visages, Villages (Faces, Places) docudrama has been withdrawn from the festival and will be replaced by a family-friendly francophone animated feature. Note to undergrads: The VIA Committee has not yet been asked to grant credit for the replacement film. Please check back if this is important to you.

120 Battements Par Minute (BPM – Beats Per Minute): 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 3, Cordier

This fictionalized account of the early years of ACT UP-Paris follows the fight for better treatment and health care access for people living with HIV and AIDS. Directed by Robin Campillo, BPM won the Grand Jury prize at the Cannes Film Festival and six Césars (national film awards in France, much like Oscars), including best film. It includes sexual content and explicit language. It is not rated in the U.S., but if it were, it would probably have an R rating.

Faculty and staff panelists and presenters on “Healthcare, HIV, and Activism” are Alex Mills (pharmacy), Barb Burdge (social work), Pete Martini (criminology and sociology), Tim McKenna-Buchanan (communication studies) and Caraline Feairheller (peace studies). Student presenter is Chloe Leckrone (double major in peace studies and English writing).

Kinshasa Makambo: 7 p.m. Thursday March 12, Cordier

Directed by Dieudo Hamadi, this heart-stopping documentary follows three activists in the Democratic Republic of Congo working to remove President Joseph Kabila from power through nonviolent means in 2018 after Kabila overstayed his elected term. The footage interweaves mass demonstrations with private conversations as Congolese youth reveal hopes for their country.

The film includes scenes of violence and explicit language. It is rated 14A in Canada but is not rated in the U.S. A faculty panel from peace studies discussing “Practices of Peace” includes Elton Skendaj  and Bob Gilbert. 

Tournées Film Festival is made possible with the support of the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the U.S., the Centre National du Cinéma et de l’Image Animée (CNC), the French American Cultural Fund, Florence Gould Foundation and Highbrow Entertainment.

A $2,200 grant, which can be renewed for up to five years, allows the University to show six films in a one-month time frame. The grant was awarded to Smithson, assistant professor of French. She and Mejía organized the festival. This is the first time MU will serve as a host institution.

In planning the festival, Smithson had three objectives: “to engage students with issues of global concern through the lens of francophone cinema; cultivate interdisciplinary connections by collaborating across departments, colleges, and campuses; and share in a cultural experience with our broader communities.”

On-campus sponsors for the festival include the Department of Modern Languages, the Art Department, the College of Arts and Humanities, and the President’s Council for Diversity and Inclusion.  

For the media

Dr. Tara Smithson:
More about the festival and FACE Foundation 

Film festival credits
About Manchester
With campuses in North Manchester and Fort Wayne, Ind., Manchester University offers more than 70 areas of academic study to 1,400 students in undergraduate programs,a Master of Accountancy, a Master of Science in pharmacogenomics, a Master of Athletic Training a four-year professional Doctor of Pharmacy degree and a four-year dual degree in pharmacy and pharmacogenomics. Learn more about the private, northern Indiana school at

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Manchester University respects the infinite worth of every individual and graduates persons of ability and conviction who draw upon their education and faith to lead principled, productive, and compassionate lives that improve the human condition.

January 2020 (Updated Feb. 18, 2020)