With Christmas approaching, our television screens will soon become the centre of attention. For many, huddling together to watch a family film has become a yearly tradition. Whether it is the Snowman or Mary Poppins, at Christmas there is a growing urge to turn on the box for that one particular film that we have already seen countless times.
I am no different. Films are more than just an art form, they are a medium encouraging social interaction. I remember that an unsupervised outing to the local cinema with friends was a necessary step towards adulthood. I even believe that singing along with Disney characters formed most of my vocabulary when I was young. Of course, as a giggling teenager, these influences were hardly noticeable. It wasn’t until I decided to fly the nest and study at Warwick University that I realised to what extent films could impact the manner in which I approached other people.
Leaving France was a big step for me, and my young naïve self thought that the only thing I would mourn would be the cheap price of good cheese and wine. However, as my first term at University flew by, I quickly realised that people were defining me through my nationality, and patriotic feelings that I had never previously acknowledged gradually surfaced. I was no longer able to forget where I came from, and I gave up on the idea of completely integrating with British culture. As a result, I felt a growing sense of isolation.
Then I discovered the opportunity Warwick Arts Centre offered to me by showing French films. When I took my friends out to see Je vais bien, ne t’en fais pas (starring Melanie Laurent), I felt as if I had managed to connect two parts of my life together, and I left the cinema with the feeling that I had shown a side of myself to my friends that had been concealed, a side that I would have overlooked in the past. At every French film screening, I cannot help but feel a certain sense of unfounded pride when customers come out of the cinema with a huge smile on their faces (similarly, bad adaptations of classical French films such as Dinner for Schmucks have often made me seethe in anger). More recently, seeing Les Intouchables (Untouchable) on my last trip to France was an experience I was eager to share, not only with friends but with everyone I met. It was for me a perfect balance between a heart-felt story and an honest portrayal of French society. This would also be the moment where I should advise you that if you have missed it last time, Untouchable is coming back to the Arts Centre in January, so keep your eyes peeled!
Since my realisation, I have always encouraged others to see films from across the globe, and Warwick Arts Centre echoes this sentiment with their programming, as well as their Foreign Language Friday screenings for GCSE school groups. This is why I would recommend to go out and explore all the opportunities the film industry has to offer and next time you sit down in front of a screen think about how this film will impact your everyday life. You might be surprised the difference it might make.