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Providence French and Francophone Film Festival presents diverse array of French cinema at Avon

PFFFF organizers aim to make French films accessible, expand definition of French cinema

<p>Screenings include multiple documentaries, children’s films, films about couples and films exploring motherhood.</p><p>Courtesy of Laura Odello</p>

Screenings include multiple documentaries, children’s films, films about couples and films exploring motherhood.

Courtesy of Laura Odello

The Providence French and Francphone Film Festival, commonly abbreviated as the PFFFF, opened Thursday evening with the Oscar-nominated “Anatomy of a Fall” at Thayer Street’s Avon Cinema. Organized by the University’s Department of French and Francophone Studies, the festival is set to screen 13 French-language films until March 7. 

Founded in 1995, PFFFF is directed by Laura Odello, a visiting associate professor of French and Francophone studies and Italian studies. What used to be a small-scale ciné-club has since evolved into a film festival that remains a staple of the Providence art scene.

Alongside a festival committee, Odello considered dozens of films with the goal of sharing French and Francophone cinema with University members and the broader Providence community. 

She emphasized the festival’s commitment to diversity by showcasing not only French cinema, but also films from various Francophone regions, particularly from West African countries including Cameroon, Senegal and Guinea. Viewers can “listen to an area that’s larger and broader than France itself,” Odello said. “It’s called the Providence French and Francophone Film Festival, (but) in fact, the most important words are Providence and Francophone. These two elements really, really matter to me.”


Annie Wiart, a member of the selection committee and senior lecturer in French and Francophone Studies, echoed Odello’s sentiments regarding diversity and noted that eight of the 13 films featured in this year’s lineup are directed by women. 

Screenings include multiple documentaries, children’s films, films about couples and films exploring motherhood. “I think that the themes did emerge rather than us looking for a movie on something specific,” Wiart said. “As we were selecting movies, more and more the festival made sense as an entity.”

Festival assistant Anaïs Shen ’24 said she is looking forward to sharing her passion for French cinema with the University and Providence communities. She noted that all the screenings will have English subtitles, allowing viewers who don’t know French or have a personal connection with Francophone countries to engage with and consume French-language cinema. 

“It’s important for us at this moment to be in collaboration with Providence in a very large way,” Odello said. “This is the moment when Brown University opens its door to the larger community. I would say Providence, I would say Rhode Island, but I would also say New England.”  

PFFFF’s opening reception this past Thursday provided attendees with an opportunity to discuss their anticipation for the festival and its selections. Many festival-goers expressed their excitement about the unique cinematic offerings, especially “Orlando, My Political Biography,” which is not being shown elsewhere in the U.S. at this time.  

Virginia Krause, the chair of the department of French and Francophone studies and a member of the festival’s selection committee, emphasized the festival’s role in providing access to films that may not otherwise be available to American audiences. With all screenings taking place at the Avon Cinema this year, Krause underscored the festival’s evolution into a genuine cinematic experience. 

“The films that are being shown are on the edge and are pushing boundaries,” Krause said. “It’s not a happy, feel-good festival — it’s much more intense, but there are also really fun films that are included.”

Screening tickets are available on the PFFFF website until the festival ends.


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