Film festival expands cultural knowledge through art

French Club President Nicholas Norris believes that experiencing other cultures is essential to growth.
French Club President Nicholas Norris believes that experiencing other cultures is essential to growth.
Image Credit: Courtesy photo

While studying abroad is one of the options students have to expand their knowledge of different cultures at Grand Valley, the Tournees Film Festival is another way to bring different perspectives to campus. 

Starting at Grand Valley in 2016, the festival is made possible by a 5-year grant from the French Consulate in Chicago. The French American Cultural Exchange, a non-profit organization in New York, proposes a certain number of French films each year to be shown at festivals. Grand Valley also partners with the French program at Grand Rapids Community College to put on this event. 

The goal is to inspire the general public to broaden movie consumption to films from different cultures. Dan Golembeski, associate professor of modern languages and literatures, believes such an event can open a wide range of perspectives. 

“It’s not just French films,” Golembeski said. “What we really want to do is encourage Americans in general to take an interest in productions from other countries, what’s going on outside the U.S., how other cultures are seeing problems and dealing with problems, the kind of humor they have, the kind of art they’re interested in.”

Grand Valley graduate student and French Club President Nicholas Norris also believes that taking in art from other cultures is essential to growth. 

“I lived in France for three years, and before moving abroad and experiencing that life I didn’t really realize to what extent I was closed off to the world,” Norris said. “So I think that these are good ways for people to have a chance to think of a different perspective on things, I think that’s really important.”

As this year marks the fourth anniversary of the terrorist attacks in Paris, Golembeski believed it was important for the festival to address the issue of violence with a movie called “The Workshop.”

“It’s thought-provoking and a very good film, but it definitely deals with violence and people who are sensitive to that would find it a little bit difficult to watch,” Golembeski said. “It’s our attempt to deal with what’s going on in French society.” 

The other films in the festival are a little more light-hearted, Golembeski said. French films deal with psychological themes that are not seen in American films as often. 

“They tend to be more dealing with psychological side of life, and more realistic in some ways,” Golembeski said. “There’s not typically a direct plot. Some of the students have told me that they were just blown away by the films and that it had a real impact on them.”

The festival begins Friday, November 15 showing the first film “Tazzeka.” Admission is free. For more information visit here. 

-- written by student writer Olivia Conaty