Festival City Meets the City of Lights

Published: January 28, 2011 | Read Time: 3 minutes

In some ways, Cedar City is a lot like most rural communities in the West. But don’t let the images of this small college town fool you. The “Festival City” hosts a broad sampling of cultural delicacies, including several local artists, world-renowned theatre and a growing international community – particularly on the campus of Southern Utah University where incoming students from across the globe keep this community current regardless of its isolated geographic location.

Latest of the region’s cultural samplings: the Tournées Film Festival at Southern Utah University, a showcase of French films which will run every Tuesday evening at 7 p.m. from February 1 through March 1.

With the help of a grant from the French American Cultural Exchange (FACE), SUU professors Elise Leahy and Rosa Perez were able to secure funding for the festival.

FACE requires institutions interested in participating in the festival to complete a strict application process, meaning that SUU is on a short list of participants that include the likes of Notre Dame, Duke, and Boston College.

There’s a whole lot more to this college town that first meets the eye. Perez, a French professor, first introduced the idea of bringing the festival to SUU when she came to the University three years ago.

“As soon as Rosa presented the idea, we got going right away on making it happen here. We knew that it would be a fantastic experience for not only the students, but the community as well,” explains Leahy.

Perez and Leahy hope the films will serve as a way for students and the community to get a glimpse of contemporary French life, and a view of other cultures in general.

Now in its third year at SUU, the festival has proven its worth, and this year’s film line-up will not disappoint.

The festival begins Tuesday, February 1, with “Paris,” the story of the intersecting lives of the many different cultures that live and thrive in the City of Lights.

February 8: “C'est Dur D'etre Aime Par Des Cons” (It’s Hard to be Loved by Jerks), a documentary depicting the legal battle between Islamic groups and a Paris newspaper accused of slandering the prophet Mohammed.

February 15: “Panique Au Village” (A Town Called Panic), a stop-motion film featuring more than 1,500 plastic toy figures, recounts the struggles of heroes Horse, Cowboy and Indian as they travel to the center of the Earth, a frozen tundra, and a mysterious underwater universe. Inspired by both the Marx Brothers and old Warner Bros. cartoons, this cult-favorite film is a playful, nonstop anarchy bound to appeal to children and adults.

February 22: “Barbe Bleue” (Bluebeard), a semiautobiographical tale of two sisters in 1950 who find themselves immersed in a 1697 murder mystery featuring an aristocrat who marries and murders a series of wives.

And rounding out the festival’s line-up, on March 1, is “Welcome,” the story of an Iraqi Kurd in northern France determined to swim across the English Channel to reach his girlfriend in London.

All films will be shown in the Sharwan Smith Center Theater at 7 p.m. every Tuesday evening. All films are in French with English subtitles, and all are free and open to the public.

The festival is made possible through the Cultural Services of the French Embassy and the French Ministry of Culture.

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