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Just Curious: How did Mercer's French Film Festival start?

Students were paired in groups of two or three and put in charge of a film, which includes leading a discussion at the end of the movie.

MACON, Ga. — This report has been contributed by Dee Dee Cudjoe, a student from Mercer University’s Center for Collaborative Journalism.

As a fresh new hire for Mercer University’s French department, Dr. Alexis Chauchois was looking for a new way to promote French culture outside of the classroom and engage more people.

“My colleague talked to me about a grant that was possible to get from the Face Foundation,” said Chauchois. 

The Face Foundation offers an annual film program called Albertine Cinémathèque, which offers universities and colleges a wide-range of ways to explore the diversity of French cinema through film screenings. The films are distributed based on an application for a grant that schools may receive.

“So I decided to apply and obtain the grant during winter break of 2021,” said Dr. Chauchois.

And that's how Mercer's French Film Festival became a thing. 

Chauchois collaborated with his French classes to give an opportunity for his students to also be involved in the festival.

The students are paired in groups of two or three and put in charge of a film. They are to prepare for their screening day, as well as lead a discussion afterwards.

“We met before and watched the film individually,” said Keeli Hennon, a junior French major and one of the student presenters for the festival. “And then did some background work on understanding the historical context and also the movements that those films are a part of. Then we based our questions around that and key themes we saw in the film.”

The discussions are held in English so that everyone is able to participate and talk about the films.

“Honestly before preparing for the film festival, I just hadn’t been exposed to French cinema really at all,'' said Hennon. “So, I think promoting greater cultural understanding of France as well as making students curious about other cultures in general now makes me definitely plan to pursue watching other films.”

The event is open to any student at Mercer University and the screenings are held in Stetson 251. 

Chauchois plans to apply for the grant again next year and also hopes to make the screenings available to the Macon community.

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