Oscars fever is at an all-time high, with less than a week to go before we find out which of the nine nominated films wins Best Picture (will we finally see Call Me By Your Name rake up some awards?) But if you’re in the mood for some foreign language movies this month, there’s a series of Francophone films, all of which are Singapore premieres, being screened as part of the Francophonie Festival happening from Mar 1-28.
French is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world, with the French language observatory reporting an estimated 274 million speakers around the globe. The Francophonie Festival in Singapore, organized by Alliance Francaise, Lycee Francais and the Singapore embassies of Switzerland, Canada, Belgium and France, celebrates the language with a mish-mash of conferences, films, workshops, exhibitions and concerts. You can check out the full lineup here.
And if the film aspect of the festival seems particularly appealing to you, we’ve picked out a couple that might pique your interest. Tickets are going for $13 (Alliance Francaise de Singapour members) and $15 (non-members) a pop.
Visages Villages (8pm, Mar 8)
This is a heartwarming documentary about an unlikely friendship between two artists—Agnes Varda, a Belgium-born French film director whose work on realism, feminist issues and social commentary, and cinematic vision have garnered a strong and loyal following of cinephiles everywhere; and 35-year-old French photographer JR who believes the street to be “the largest art gallery in the world”. They both go on a journey through rural France in JR’s van, which basically acts as a roving photobooth where anyone can step into the back and have their picture taken and printed in large format. JR inadvertently fulfills Varda’s desires to meet and photograph people, and goes beyond it flypost them in public locations. It’s also in the running for an Oscars in the Documentary (Feature) category this year.
Le Brio (8pm, Mar 9)
The very premise of this film is enough to ruffle your feathers. The film follows Neila, a girl of Algerian descent living in the burbs of Paris with her mother and grandmother. She enrolls herself into Assas University in the hopes of becoming a lawyer, but meets with public humiliation tainted with racism from her controversial professor when she arrives five minutes late. The President of the school catches wind of the incident and steps in, only to task the professor—as a means of redemption—to mentor Neila for an upcoming speech contest. We’re not entirely sure it’s the best solution, but we’re curious to see how it’ll pan out for both parties.
Felicite (7pm, Mar 11)
The film is set in Congo and tells the story of a strong and independent woman who gets by in life by singing in a bar in the city’s capital of Kinshasa. But her life is turned upside down when her 14-year-old son is involved in a major car accident. He needs surgery, or risk having his leg amputated, but that can’t happen until she pays up. Wrecked, like any mother would be, she goes on a frantic search to get the money any way she can. Felicite won the Jury Grand Prix award at the 67th Berlin International Film Festival, numerous awards at last year’s Africa Movie Academy Awards, and was selected as the Senegalese entry for Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars (but unfortunately didn’t make the final shortlist).
Le Tout Nouveau Testament (8pm, Mar 15)
God, in this film exists in the form of a human being living in present-day Brussels, Belgium, together with his highly opinionated daughter, Ea. Seeing as her dad is doing a good job—he’s seen creating “laws” that annoy the shit out of people, like the phone ringing just as you get into a bathtub, or the line next to you at a supermarket moving faster than yours—she decides to take control hack his computer and send every being in the world by text message the day they’re going to die. She also takes it upon herself to descend onto Earth to fix the mess her father created by finding her own six messengers to write her New Testament.
Noces (7pm, Mar 22)
This coming-of-age story follows 18-year-old college student Zahira who lives in a sleepy Belgian suburb with her tight-knit Muslim family. But all that changes when her parents present her with three men, one of whom is to become her husband. While the suitors seem pleasant, Zahira can’t seem to get her head around this longstanding Pakistani tradition of arranged marriages, especially when she’s falling head over heels with a local mechanic. Determined to make her own choices in life, she employs her brother and confidant Amir to help her get through. Director Stephan Streker will be present for a post-screening Q&A session. Noces is also part of the Smash the Glass Film Festival in Singapore.