By David Walters

Bonjour! There are three programs of short films that have been put together for the New Voices in French Cinema Film Festival put on by the French Institute Alliance Frances (FIFA). The festival runs in person October 1-3 and online October 3-10 so the opportunity to view the films is limited, but the art is timeless. Film website here.

What’s highlighted in this collection of short films is the diversity of voices expressing the feelings and climate of our world, not only in France, but in far-flung territories like Morocco, Guadeloupe, and Lebanon places that very infrequently get screen time.

“Conceived with The Edmond de Rothschild Foundations, this festival highlights the critical importance of the arts in exploring the perspectives of different communities.”

And that statement holds true of the collection of award-winning films. If you aren’t able to view these films during the festival, please take the time to search them out online. I’ve put them in order of my favorites, but all are worth your time.

SO WHAT IF THE GOATS DIE: A shepherd with his goats in the barren wilds of Morocco needs to go to the village to buy more grain to feed his herd. After riding his donkey for days, when he arrives, everyone is gone, and the town is empty save for one man drinking tea out on a veranda. I’m not going to tell you why they have left, save its mass hysteria that is a polarizing force behind it all. This is a wonderful film challenging our long-held beliefs of what is truth. Having come out of Sundance in 2019 (won the short film grand jury prize), it will have you mesmerized by the location, the camera work, by the actors, and especially by the sci-fiesque story.

Director: Sofia Alaoui

Editor: Héloïse Pelloquet

Cast: Fouad OughaouOumaïma OughaouSaïd OuabiMoha OughaouSaïd Oughaou

MAMA LOVA: A strong message about survival and standing one’s ground. Adèle is in mourning after the death of her teenage son in a fight on the streets of her hood. With no justice for her loss from the authorities, she is helpless to prevent it from happening again. Through her own fighting spirit and the help of neighbors, she finds her inner courage to confront the delinquency in her world.

Director: Jean François Taver

Writers: Latigone N’Goma, Jean François Taver

Cast: Alicia Bigot, Akim Chir, Mata Gabin

YOUR KID: In Guadeloupe, the struggles and spirit of this island nation’s people are reflected in the story of a young man making his way as a petty criminal on the streets. He is left a baby girl in a bag outside his door with a note saying that the child is his. His search to find the mother opens a space within himself he did not realize was there and allowed a breeze to blow his life in a different direction. At times poignant, at times humorous, the storytelling is compelling and noteworthy.

Director: Nelson Foix

Writer: Nelson Foix

Cast: Sloan Descombes

FREED: The hell of what you know as compared to the fear of an unknown hell that stretches in front of you compels inmate Issa, who is about to get out of jail, to choose the safety of the known hell that is his life. This is a subtle film handled with great compassion.

Director: Josza Anjembe

Cast: Alassane Diong, Yoann Zimmer, Emile Fofana

GET LOST: A story from southern France about racism, where we belong, and the struggles to escape societal chains.  Cédric is ready to finish school and go with his lifelong friend to London and leave the restrictions and oppressions of his neighborhood behind. Just because you have dreams does not mean that someone else has them as well, especially when you’re both at the cliff about to take the leap. Fear and a sense of safety inhibit us all. A coming of age story where not everyone comes of age at the same time.

Director: Romuald Rodrigues Andrade

Cast: Idir Azougli, Nacera Benhamed, Mourad Tahar Boussatha