On Thursday, November 23, the French Embassy In Botswana, in conjunction with Peugeot Motors, Orange, Total and Air Liquide, hosted the launch of the 4th Annual French Film Festival at the Gaborone Grand Palm Cinema. The Film Festival will be running until November 30th 2006, at the Riverwalk New Capitol Cinemas.
At the French Film Festival launch, guests were given insight into the French Film industry. The Regional Audiovisual Attach├®, Vincent Garrigues, who is responsible for organizing the French Film Festivals in Southern Africa, informed the audience on some of the details of the French film industry.
According to Garrigues, France is the second largest producer of films in the world; first place being held by the USA.
Each year, films produced in France or co-produced by French cultural organizations, add up to approximately 300. Of the 300 films produced in France, between 50 and 70 films are international films facilitated by the French film industry.
The French Diplomatic corps is especially interested in heightening cultural awareness on an international scale. The French Embassy is not solely focusing on heightening awareness of French culture, but also of the many diverse cultures that exist in the world today.
Because film is indeed an international ‘language’ that everyone understands, showcasing films, as a way of exhibiting today’s multicultural global village is a fitting way of communicating this endeavor with a large audience.
The question of what significance French films have in Botswana’s society may arise in the minds of some. However, viewers will be pleased to find that in comparison to previous year’s French Film Festivals in Gaborone, this year’s films include films that are made in Francophone Africa. Of the 10 films that are being shown during the Film Festival week, 3 of the films are based in countries such as Tunisia, Senegal, and Morocco.
This addition of African stories gives the African viewer an increased opportunity to relate to the films. Vincent Garrigues is pleased to announce that the films this year have a “strong African flair.”
The organizers of the Film Festival have taken into consideration the fact that viewers of films must be able to relate to them. In lieu of this, the list of this year’s showings has something that will entertain and enlighten many viewers.
The varieties of films that will be shown will highlight drama, melodrama, animation, comedy and environmental documentaries.
At the launch, Marc- Antoine Roudil, the director of the environmental documentary, Arbres (Trees), made a personal appearance and told the guests about his documentary.
The documentary tells the story of the trees. It is a trip in a different space and time scale, where one encounters trees that communicate, trees that walk, shy trees and crazy trees. Marc-Antoine Roudile said that after watching this documentary, one would “never look at trees the same way again.”
Other films that will be shown at the festival include the melodrama, Les Silence du Palais (Samt El Qusur)/ The Silence of the Palace (1994).
This film tells the story of the pain of servitude, the power of music, and the need for women to stick together. The story reflects the reminiscence of Alla, a 25-year-old woman who was raised in the royal palace by her mother, Khedija, a lifelong servant at the palace. One of Khedija’s more odious tasks had been to have sex with her masters.
Alla has no idea who her father is. When she hears that Prince Sid Ali died, she returns to the palace she ran away from ten years earlier. Upon return, she finds herself confronted with all the memories she worked so hard to bury. She thinks about her unborn baby and begins to understand why her mother did not want her to become a servant.
The comedy, TGV (1998), is about an express bus, TGV, driven between Dakar (Senegal) and Conakry (Guinea) by a character named Rambo.
Before setting off, the intrepid Rambo and his passengers are warned that the Bassari tribe on the border is in revolt. On hearing the news, only a dozen or so passengers (with a handful of sheep) decide to take the risky trip with Rambo.
A dismissed minister and his wife also join the group. Various personalities come to the fore and complex relationships form as dangerous and unexpected events unfold.
he animated Film La Prophetic des Grenouilles/ Raining Cats and Frogs (2003) takes the viewer to the end of the world.
Far away from everything, a family lives peacefully on a cozy farm perched at the top of a hill. But at the base of the hill, the frogs are very agitated. There is no longer any doubt, all predictions coincide, a huge flood is about to inundate the earth.
Faced with the catastrophe, the frogs agree to communicate with the humans. And so a great adventure begins in which animals and humans are dragged through this incredible whirlpool and must learn to live together. It’s easier said than done…
Viewing is free and people are encouraged to book their tickets at least one hour in advance.