As a former film student most Embassy sponsored film presentations make me cringe. They appear to be chosen by the intern who generally picks the most non-offensive but dull cultural artifact to show, say, the ultimate “goodness” of the American people. But if you truly want to show the greatness of America and it’s people then play 12 YEARS A SLAVE rather than the pablum LINCOLN. Goodness or justice or righteousness is shown in facing the dilemmas which we as human beings all share, struggle with and often never resolve.
So I was thrilled to see that for the annual Kosovo French Film Festival they are presenting LES PARAPLUIES DES CHERBOURG or THE UMBRELLAS OF CHERBOURG. It became one of my favorite films years ago as a film student in New York. I’ve been annoying people all over Prishtina and insisting that they go see it on the big screen at the Albi Mall Cineplexx for free as part of the festival. It stars a young Catherine Deneuve and is directed by the great musical French Director Jacques Demy. LA LA LAND wanted to be CHERBOURG but the LA LA LAND has far too much sentimentality to be as good as CHERBOURG. As the famous American critic John Simon once said, CHERBOURG is about how love is basically a peach pit.
All the dialogue in CHERBOURG is sung which deepens the emotional experience. It takes place during the Algerian War which is never seen but the darkness of the period in France’s history envelops the young love affair that begins the film. Much like today everything seems surmountable while young. Then life, and the world, intervene. What a better way to show that the emotions, struggles and dilemmas of life are a part of our shared humanity.
LES PARAPLUIES DES CHERBOURG plays Wednesday at 19.00 at Albi Mall Cineplexxx. Admission: Free.