Dig Baton Rouge

Across the Pond

By Tara Bennett

The story of a young novitiate nun on the verge of taking her vows, may seem uninteresting at first, but then add our young heroine discovers a dark family secret dating back to the time of the Nazi occupation, well, then you have great drama.
This intimate drama titled Ida from Poland is among a repertoire of the latest and award-winning European films set for screening at the 2015 European Film Festival beginning on April 20 and set to go on until May 2. Along with Ida, other films that will be screened include Human Capital, Vivre Sa Vie, Das Boot ist Voll, Leviathan, and Winter Sleep.

“I think the schedule of films is really strong,” said Jason Langlois, head of film programming at Manship. “They’re all just A-list movies. It’s that simple. If you really like film, you’re going to see some good examples of classic European film as well as stuff that’s current trending-setting in European film.”

Reaching its second anniversary, the Manship Theatre presents the festival in alliance with the LSU Film and Media Arts Program and the Consulate General of France in New Orleans. According to Langlois, the festival is in honor of the Euro-American Celebration taking place throughout South Louisiana as part of a week of associated cultural activities. The festival’s goals are to create a better understanding of the European Union in local communities; to create a synergy between different cultural partners; and to highlight the richness of Euro-American relationships. The Manship has been working with the LSU Film and Media Arts Program for three years now, with the festival serving as an independent study.

“They give us students every semester that work with us as an internship with a focus on this actual festival,” said Langlois. “Helping us plan it, researching films to show, and helping us promote it.”
Also coming forth from the partnership with LSU will be mini “film school crash courses” tied to the film screenings. For about five to 10 minutes, professors from LSU will give people added insight into the films prior to their viewing. Dr. Carl Freedman will introduce Ida on Thursday, April 30, Associate Professor Patricia A. Suchy will introduce Vivre Sa Vie on Friday on May 1, and Dr. Gundela Hachmann will introduce Das Boot ist Voll on Saturday, May 2.

“In the case of the French film this year, it’s a French new wave film from the ‘60s, so the professor from LSU is going to talk about what that means, and why the film was significant or why that period in French film was significant,” said Langlois. “It’s interesting, it’s a lot more than watching films.”

The films deal with subjects ranging from love, resilience, heroism, frustration and triumph. Stories of individuals and their families choosing their destinies while turbulence, history, or politics looms behind them also find place. Several countries are represented, including Poland, France, Russia and Turkey. The majority of the films this year are award-winning films from festivals such as Cannes, the Academy Awards, Bari International Film Festival, and Venice Film Festival.
“This year we kind of focused on films that were Oscar submissions from those countries,” said Langlois. “Each country submits a film that they believe is the best of their film industry that year, and that’s what gets chosen for the Best Foreign Language film at the Oscars.”

The festival is structured with one film showing on Thursday, a double feature on Friday and three films on Saturday. According to Langlois, there is enough time between the showings on Saturday for attendees to experience downtown Baton Rouge.

“You know, make it more of a festival experience for the true cinephiles out there,” said Langlois.

The festival will close with a live flamenco guitar performance along with samples of adult beverages from each country represented.

“Obviously there will be French wine, maybe some Swiss beer,” said Langlois. “So that’s always fun. We try to make our drink specials that are thematic with the festival.”
For more information about the European Film Festival, contact Manship at 225-344-0334.

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