This past week, Bates and Lewiston hosted the Tournées Film Festival. The festival, a presentation of Francophone cinema, was brought to campus through close collaboration between Bates students, faculty, and community members. The festival was initially brought to campus through the hard work of Alyssa Frost ’18 and Avery Margerum ’18, though Trevor Fry ’19 and Gillian Coyne ’19 have also played large roles in the Festival’s development. This past week I interviewed Frost, Margerum, and Fry to discuss their connections to the Festival at large and this year’s films.
The Bates Student: Why did you become involved with the Festival?
Avery Margerum: I became involved in the festival because I was part of the leadership of the French club and we thought it would be wonderful to host such a festival at Bates.
Alyssa Frost: I was really interested in the opportunity to bring a set of films that are internationally acclaimed to campus as well as the Lewiston community. This was also a great project for the Francophone Club to work with the French & Francophone Studies department in spearheading this festival.
Trevor Fry: I became involved with the festival all thanks to Alyssa Frost and Professor Laura Balladur who have really lead the charge with the festival over the past two years. I also became interested because I’m very committed to showing how relevant and important the French language is not only in the francophone world but also in our backyard, right here in Lewiston, ME.
BS: What changes have you overseen in the Festival the past few years?
AF: Together with Avery, Trevor, and Gillian, we’ve seen improvements to efficiency in the process. Avery and I started the festival last year. As it was the first try, from writing the application for the $2,200 grant from the FACE foundation to figuring out the designs for all the posters- it takes quite a bit of delegation and organization. Communication has been easier as we had difficulties reaching the film distributors last year and as Avery and I picked last year’s movies, Gillian Coyne and Trevor Fry got it down this year selection wise. We also had more help this year since more underclassmen were involved in the French & Francophone Studies Department such as El Khansaa Kaddioui, Emma Wheeler, Julia Nemy, and Elizabeth Kiley-Bergen. As we divided up publicity more this year, members of the planning committee went to area French departments and gave them a list of appropriate films their classes could attend. Posters and advertisements also were placed in local newspapers and circulated in the Portland film community as well.
AM: As Alyssa said, our planning, preparation, and execution of the festival went much more smoothly this year after having done it all once.
BS: What are your hopes for the Festival?
AF: We want to bring attention to a wide span of issues of the Francophone World many people may not know about. These films are also quite incredible, from a coming-of-age film set in Tunisia to reflections on post-war trauma, we have a pretty impressive lineup this year.
TF: My main hope for the festival is to bring people together using the films that we show. By having showings both at Bates and at the Franco Center in Lewiston we can start to build bridges between all the French-speaking communities in our city. My other goal is to break the stereotypes people have of French and French culture. Francophone culture stretches from the streets of Paris, to the docks of Marseille, to the woods of Quebec, to the beaches of Casablanca, and it comes all the way to the riverbanks of the Androscoggin. I hope that people leave each viewing feeling as though their viewpoint on the language has been changed and broadened.
BS: Will you try to bring the Festival back to Lewiston next fall? Where do you see the Festival going in coming years?
TF: I definitely hope that we can bring the Festival back to Lewiston next fall! After having spent 5 months in France, I have many new ideas and suggestions of movies to show. It’s also a great way to get younger French and Francophone Studies majors involved in the department and in learning how to create a grant proposal, design posters, and run a festival smoothly. I see it becoming a staple of the calendar at Bates and in Lewiston for years to come.
BS: What benefits does the Festival bring to the Lewiston or Bates community?
AM: We screen at least one film at the Franco Center, which brings Bates students outside the “bubble” to engage with the community and learn more of its francophone heritage.
AF: There is a large population of people with Franco-American roots as well as a big French-speaking immigrant population, so we wanted to select an array of films that would best resonate with them. We also have one showing of Examen d’État at the Franco Center which will be an awesome event with a Congolese reception beforehand.
TF: The discussions that follow each movie are also great opportunities to people to share their differing opinions and to hear professors and students give their take on what can be contentious topics.
BS: What else would you like to share about the Festival?
TF: I’d just like to say that I hope people come even if they aren’t French majors! So many of our films deal with issues that are pertinent to a wider audience or have storylines that I’m sure the majority of Bates students would find interesting.
AM: It’s a fantastic opportunity for anyone to see some critically acclaimed French and francophone films for free!
AF: We collaborated with a multitude of departments including Politics, History, Anthropology, Environmental Studies, Rhetoric, Women and Gender Studies, German, and Art, among others as these [films] covered a variety of topics.
The Festival still has a few viewings this week- look out for Bande À Part Wednesday at 7pm and Fort Buchanan Saturday at 2pm, both playing in Olin 104.