Route 66 has inspired a number of films. Not so for the RER B, the suburban train line opened in 1977 that crosses the greater Paris region from poorer communes on the east such as Seine-St.-Denis to wealthier small towns on the western outskirts, carrying more than a million passengers every year. The RER B is the subject of Alice Diop’s next film, and it’s a train line she knows well, having grown up in Seine-St.-Denis. Diop is one of the most powerful and innovative directors in French documentary cinema today; her short film Towards Tenderness, being shown at the Lenfest Center on November 10 at 6:00 P.M., won the Cesar award for best short in 2017. In this master class, Alice Diop will talk about the creation of her 6th film, a poetic and political road trip via train. The intertwining portraits of people living in the towns and neighborhoods served by the RER B, from a nurse living in a segregated neighborhood to an aficionado of fox hunting, offer a moving portrait of French society in 2018, and of the possibilities and impossibilities offered by the city of Paris itself. Alice Diop is right in the middle of filming for this new project, and in this master class she has offered to talk with us about her working method, her view of cinema, her engagement with her subjects, and she will share for the first time excerpts of her work in progress, maybe even some drawings and recorded sounds…
After her master class, we will be screening Alice Diop's film On Call / La Permanence (2016, 90 min.) at 8:30 p.m.
"We are in the service of the free medical center at Avicenne Hospital in Bobigny. Assisted by a psychiatrist, the general practitioner often speaks in English, trying, under no illusion, to repair bodies and minds. How are these beaten, starving, traumatized people to be helped using medicine’s inadequate means? Over time, tensions appear between Dr. Geeraert and his administration, as his medical certificates affect the administrative procedure and access to free care. By choosing to stay in the confines of the surgery, Alice Diop underlines the doctors’ ability to listen and their lucidity as to the limits of their action. In doing so, she accentuates the presence of the outside world, the vast off-screen world of poverty and violence that – also – makes up our society. » (Charlotte Garson)
Columbia University co-sponsors of Blackness in French and Francophone Film: Maison Française; School of the Arts; Institute for Research on Women, Gender and Sexuality; Institute of African Studies; Columbia Global Centers/Paris; European Institute; and Society of Fellows/Heyman Center for the Humanities
This film series is presented with support from the Paul LeClerc Centennial Fund, Cultural Services of the French Embassy, la Scam, and the Knapp Family Foundation.