French films educate about culture

Festival hosts foreign movies to show diversity in other countries

“Au revoir la-haunt” (“See You Up There”) played at the Kenworthy Performing Arts Centre on Oct. 8. It is one of four movies shown for the 2019 Palouse French Film Festival.


“Au revoir la-haunt” (“See You Up There”) played at the Kenworthy Performing Arts Centre on Oct. 8. It is one of four movies shown for the 2019 Palouse French Film Festival.

REID BROWN, Evergreen reporter

On Main Street, Moscow last Tuesday evening, the Kenworthy Performing Arts Centre showed the movie “Au revoir là-haut” (“See You Up There”) as the second event of the 10th annual Palouse French Film Festival.

“You can’t learn a language separate from the culture,” said Sarah Nelson, associate professor of French and French section coordinator at the University of Idaho.

She along with Sabine Davis, WSU clinical professor of French, organizes the French Film Festival every year and encourages the cooperation of the two schools for the promotion of French cultural awareness.

“See You Up There” is a 2017 French film that explores social turmoil in the wake of World War I. The film allowed students and community members to experience the unfolding of an unlikely friendship between an ex-accountant and a disabled artist in France during the 1920s.

“We started out with Ivar Nelson who is a longtime member of the film committee,” Sarah Nelson said. “With his encouragement, we got funds from an organization called FACE, it means French American Cultural Exchange, and they have a program called the ‘Tournées’ festival.”

Now, the Festival is in its 10th year of operation and it is a great way for students of French to see more of the culture that they are learning about, Sarah Nelson said.

“There is a very surprisingly strong French community,” Sarah Nelson said. “Just about every month, there are new people that have lived here for a long time, they’re from France, and it’s the first time we’re meeting them. We get together, drink wine, and eat hors d’oeuvres.”

Anne Perriguey, U of I senior instructor of French, is Sarah Nelson’s colleague and the main host of the French conversation group that meets monthly.

Perriguey was also present at the showing of “See You Up There” and she encouraged students to form conversation groups on campus as well as for community members to join the monthly French gatherings if interested.

Though the French departments at both U of I and WSU are small, there is a strong passion for the French language, art and history here in the Palouse, Sarah Nelson said.

“Those who take French love it and they love the French film festival, it has really become an institution, and they’ll ask about it at the beginning of each year,” Sarah Nelson said.

The festival provides films that are not always in a contemporary setting so that viewers can get a perspective of how life looked at different periods in French history. “See You Up There” was likewise chosen to show France amid war and the Roaring Twenties, Sarah Nelson said. Unlike other years, though, the selection for this year’s festival does not include any films that focus on prominent French artists.

“It gets a huge number of people in the door that haven’t been here before, which is always great, because I think there is something about this place that once you’ve been here for one movie, you’re kinda like ‘oh, I should go there for more,’” said Jamie Hill, operations director of the Kenworthy Performing Arts Centre.

The French Film Festival welcomes a blend of WSU and U of I students. All of the films have subtitles and admission is free for students with school ID, Hill said. For community members, tickets are $5 per film or $10 for a pass to all four films.

The Kenworthy hosts all kinds of performing arts events from livestreamed performances from London and New York to community film screenings.

“Even for Pullman people, I know it’s far away, but our movies are seven bucks which is still better than going to The Village,” Hill said.

One of four French films chosen for this year’s festival will play at 7 p.m. on Oct. 1, 8, 15, and 22, according to

“In a perfect world, we’d all be able to go on multiple trips abroad, but I would say that 99 percent of the people here have not been to France, so it is nice to watch people get at least a taste of that experience,” Hill said.

For more information on the Palouse French Film Festival and other Kenworthy events, visit For information on the Monthly French conversation group email Anne Perriguey at [email protected].