French Culture Through Film | Osher Lifelong Learning Institute | University of Miami

French Culture Through Film

OSH 769 / Non Credit
Course taught in: English
Locations: TBA
Instructor: Ms. Valerie Sutter


Fridays 10:00 - 11:45 am 

Course Description

In a series of three French films, this course proposes to show intercultural differences between the French and the American cultures.  Films would be viewed by half segments and discussed thoroughly afterwards, following a set of guidelines and questions that would direct the viewer’s attention to various cultural factors during the film. 

Week 1

Film Le Hérisson  (The Hedgehog) : view first half of film ; discussion during 45 mins about key points.  Films centers around a serious and highly articulate but deeply bored 11-year-old who has decided to kill herself on her 12th birthday. Fascinated by art and philosophy, she questions and documents her life and immediate circle, drawing trenchant and often hilarious observations on the world around her. But as her appointment with death approaches, Paloma finally meets some kindred spirits in her building's grumpy concierge and an enigmatic, elegant neighbor, both of whom inspire her to question her rather pessimistic outlook on life.      

Week 2

See second half of “Le Hérisson »; discussion about end of movie.

Week 3

Film Alceste à Bicyclette (Bicycling with Molière): view first half of film; discussion about key points.  Film is set in the lovely, but isolated, island off the coast of France called Ile de Ré, where a former famous Parisian actor has retired.  A colleague of his decides to put on one of Molière’s most famous plays, Le Misanthrope, and needs the retired actor to play a part.  Will the colleague succeed in recruiting the retiree?  Two egos at play, and Molière in full bloom.  Much to discuss here. 

Week 4

Watch second half of Alceste à Bicyclette; discussion about end of movie.

Week 5

View first half of film La Rafle; discussion about key points.  Film is the dramatization of the true story of the July 1942 roundup of French Jews by the French police who were accomplices of Nazi Germans in the Vel’ d’Hiv Roundup,  the mass arrest of Jews by French police in Paris in July 1942. 

Week 6

View second half of La Rafle; discussion. 

The day after graduating from university with a BA in French, Valerie Sutter headed off to France for what she thought would be a year of polishing her language skills.  Twenty years later, she returned home to the US, fluent not only in French but in Portuguese and intercultural relations.  She earned her Master’s degree with honors at the Faculté de Lettres de Lyon and shared her passion for language and culture by teaching for thirty years in public and private schools in France, Brazil, and the US. Believing strongly that foreign language immersion is the best way to understand another culture and most important, one’s own, she organizes language workshops in France every summer for Francophiles and francophone.  She owns an apartment in Paris where she spends several months of the year, when not otherwise occupied in Miami teaching French or organizing her monthly French Movies Nights.

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