Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

La vie en film

UTSA French Film Festival projects French-language films
Courtesy of Juan Rocha

Although San Antonio has a lot of history to showcase, it may still be surprising to discover its influence on film history. In the early days, French director Gaston Méliès briefly settled in the city to operate his production company around the Alamo and the Missions before taking off to the rising neighborhood of Hollywood. France even had a colony in Texas at one point and it is one of the six flags that lends its name to the amusement park. Over a century later, life through the French lens has returned through the UTSA French Film Festival

The festival opened on March 27 with a showing of “The Super 8 Years,” a home movie documentary made from footage shot by the husband of Nobel Prize laureate Annie Ernaux. Contemporary French films have been shown for free to the public with English subtitles on the Main Campus every Wednesday and Thursday since the festival’s debut. The second screening was “Gagarine,” a coming-of-age film about Youri, a teenager, and his friends as they try to save their homes from demolition in the projects of Paris. It is also the favorite film from this year’s selection for co-organizer Juan Rocha Gómez. 

“This is a very good social criticism of urban expansion and how a lot of people are left behind in that process [through] government neglect. It’s also very cool because

Courtesy of Juan Rocha

visually, the story itself has a lot of magical realism,” Gómez said, later drawing similarities to the French film classic “La Haine (Hate).”  His recommendation of the festival’s lineup for entry-level French film viewers was the most recent showing, “Retour à Séoul (Return to Seoul).”  

“It’s about this young lady that was adopted by a French family from [South] Korea. She’s going back to Korea and she wants to rekindle with her identity, her family, her country, her language. For a lot of people here at UTSA, they have immigrant parents [or] immigrant relatives, so they can follow with the themes of identity, migrating, growing up in another country different than yours, speaking another language.”

The film was presented in collaboration with the UTSA Korean Culture Club. A previous showing of “La Reine Margot (Queen Margot)” was shown in partnership with

Courtesy of Juan Rocha

the History Club. The festival was funded through a grant provided by Villa Albertine, an institution established by the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs to promote French arts and culture in the United States. After being given a list of films to choose from, organizer and UTSA faculty member Dr. Robert Watson hand-picked the varied selection. Dr. Watson also moderates audience discussions after the screenings. 

The following selected film, “Rewind & Play,” features famous jazz pianist Thelonius Monk’s experience in Paris in the late 1960s. The festival’s closing film is “De

Humani Corporis Fabrica (The Fabric of the Human Body).” It is a unique movie filmed almost entirely inside the human body as surgeons explore its workings across five Parisian hospitals. The dean of the College of Liberal and Fine Arts, Dr. Glenn Martinez, is anticipated to speak at the final showing. 

“Rewind & Play” will show on April 9 at 6:30 p.m. in room 2.02.36 in the McKinney Humanities Building and “De Humani Corporis Fabrica” at the same time and location on April 10. The UTSA French Film Festival is expected to return next spring following a successful re-application for the grant.

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About the Contributor
Faith Kouadio
Faith Kouadio, Staff Writer

Faith (she/her) is a public health major with a minor in information systems. Despite choosing to pursue studies in these specific fields, she enjoys writing and communications and hopes to incorporate them as a key part of her career. She believes in an increasingly information-heavy world, everyone has a duty to responsibly disseminate information – contributing to the Paisano is her small way of accomplishing this.

If you ask Faith what movie she saw last night, she will have a new answer every time. Other than watching movies, she enjoys listening to and collecting music and traveling. Having grown up in the Toronto region, Texas is one stop from the many places she has called home. After her anticipated graduation in Spring 2024, she’s excited to see where life takes her next.

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  • R

    RubenApr 9, 2024 at 10:23 pm

    The joy you feel when watching a film in another language is immeasurable. It feels like exploring a new part of the same building you’ve been in your whole life. Je suis content que Le Paisano ait couvert cela.