Virtual French Film Festival comes to UNI


Courtesy Photo

UNI will host its first French Film Festival throughout the months of February and March.


The spring 2021 semester will see the inaugural UNI French Film Festival beginning on Feb. 8 and running through March 30. In tandem with the Franco-American Cultural Exchange Foundation, the Department of Languages and Literatures will present six French language films, subtitled in English, over the coming weeks.

The films will be available to be streamed virtually and discussed via Zoom. Each participant will be able to watch the film at their own convenience during the week of screening with a Zoom discussion following the subsequent Tuesday.

Though the format of this film festival may be different than other similar events in the past, co-organizer and Department Head of Languages and Literature Jim O’Loughlin relates the type of environment they are trying to simulate virtually in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Normally, for a series like this, there would be a single screening time and then people would hang out in the lobby to chat about the film over cookies and Panther Punch,” he said. “In some ways, it’s an improvement to have a whole week to screen a film whenever it is convenient, and we are aiming to recreate the casual conversations over Zoom.”

O’Loughlin also expressed the difficulties of planning and mapping out this virtual film festival.

“It’s a whole new world for film distributors trying to figure out what to do during the pandemic,” he said. “Each one has a slightly different streaming platform/format, so that is tricky to keep straight. But, as with everything else during the pandemic, we are all adapting and doing the best we can. I’m just glad that the Department of Languages & Literatures will be able to have some weatherproof programming to offer this winter.”

O’Loughlin, along with UNI professors Elizabeth Zwanziger and Grant Tracey, choose a representative range of French films for the festival with hopes of bringing students into the selection process in the future.

The series is funded by a grant from the Franco-American Cultural Exchange Foundation which means the prospects of this film festival becoming an annual event are high. The first movie screened from Feb. 8-14 will be “Première année” (“The Freshmen”), a comedy-drama about a friendship between two young medical students. The film will present a familiar, but culturally different situation for students here at the UNI, making it a great opener for the French Film Festival.

Interested participants can visit, for more information, ways to register for the event and the entire catalog of films being presented over the coming weeks.