By Josette Keelor
What started as the Tournees French Film Festival at Shenandoah University years ago has translated into the school's first Global Film Festival. The free five-film lineup, which runs next Friday, Saturday and Sunday, will comprise two films in French, two in Spanish and one in Arabic, said organizers Petra Schweitzer and Andrea Smith.
The Global Film Festival is presented by the Foreign Language Department in collaboration with the Department of Mass Communication and Global First Year Seminar.
Schweitzer, associate professor of foreign language at Shenandoah University, and Gina Daddario, chair of the mass communication department, have organized the French Film Festival since 2006, when the school received a grant from the French Embassy.
In its sixth year, Spanish professor Smith included three Latin American films as an encore the following weekend.
"So this year," Smith said, "we're trying to make more of a combined effort and have more of a global approach."
The festival will kick off at 7 p.m. March 1 with the 2009 Argentine film, "El secreto de sus ojos," or "The Secret in their Eyes." The film is rated R and will be followed by a reception.
Smith's goal in offering five films "was to have one that really is a blockbuster ... so that's why I picked this film."
It became the second Argentine film ever to win an Academy Award, she said. This one was for best picture film in the documentary short category. "The Official Story" in 1985 was the first Argentine film that took home an Oscar, she said.
"We decide to put the Argentine film first because that was the best selling," Smith said.
Some of the films have heavy topics, Schweitzer said. The final film, "Le Gamin au Velo" ("The Child with the Bike,") is a 2011 Belgian/French film and will be shown at 7 p.m. March 3. It's rated PG-13. The other three films are not rated.
On March 2, the Chilean 2010 "Nostalgia de la Luz" ("Nostalgia for the Light") will show at 11 a.m. and the French film "Tomboy" at 7 p.m. The USA/Pakistani 2012 documentary "Saving Face" will show at 11 a.m. March 3.
'Nostalgia de la Luz" tells the story of women in the 1970s searching for loved ones who are political prisoners, and Smith called it "pretty intense."
"Le Gamin au Velo" is about a boy, abandoned by his father, who questions his identity, Schweitzer said.
"Saving Face" follows an important surgeon in Pakistan who helped in the facial reconstruction of women disfigured in violent attacks, Schweitzer said.
"[It] speaks about reconstructions of faces of two women," she said, adding that most women in Pakistan have been victims of violence.
"We really try to bring in contemporary issues," she said. "It exposes you to issues you can relate to."
All films are subtitled, and Schweitzer said students from John Handley High School, Lord Fairfax Community College and Randolph-Macon Academy will receive credit for seeing the films.
She said it's important to her and Smith to include the community in programs that Shenandoah offers.
Seeing films in a format like this, Schweitzer said, allows viewers to compare them more readily, as well as experience the differences in screen plays and the film-making process.
For Smith, "It's to expose my students to films that might otherwise be difficult for them to see."
For Schweitzer, "It's also to expose students to films that don't always have a happy ending," she said.
The Global Film Festival will take place March 1 to 3 with showings at 7 p.m. and 11 a.m. in the Stimpson Auditorium in Halpin-Harrison Hall at Shenandoah University. All films are free and open to the public. For more information, call the university at 665-4600 or visit www.su.edu.
Contact Community Engagement Editor Josette Keelor at 540-465-5137, ext. 176, or firstname.lastname@example.org