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Film directors here for Francophone Film Festival

March 14, 2006

KALAMAZOO--Two film directors, one from the Democratic Republic of Congo and one from Quebec, will come to Western Michigan University to introduce their latest creations as part of the fifth annual Francophone Film Festival, Wednesday through Sunday, March 15-19, in WMU's Little Theatre.

Quebec filmmaker Andre Forcier will present his film, "Les Etats-Unis d'Albert" ("The United States of Albert") at 7 p.m. Friday, March 17. Released in 2005, Forcier's latest film is set in the 1920s and centers on Albert Renaud, a young French Canadian actor, who dreams of becoming a star in Hollywood like Rudolf Valentino. After receiving a letter of recommendation from his professor, Jane Pickford, the great-aunt of the president of United Artists, Albert sets off for Los Angeles.

Forcier was born in Montreal in 1947. His films have been praised by both critics and audiences alike and have won numerous prizes and awards around the world.

Congolese filmmaker Mweze D. Ngangura will present his film, "Les Habits Neufs du Gouverneur" ("The Governor's New Clothes"), at 7 p.m. Saturday, March 18. Ngangura is no stranger to the film festival, having visited Kalamazoo five years ago to introduce his film "Piéces d'Identité" ("I.D."), winning the festival's first Golden Kazoo award in the process. The award is given each year to the film selected as that year's top feature film. "I.D." also won the most prestigious award in African cinema at the Fespaco, the largest film festival in Africa, in 1998.

Released in 2005, Ngangura's latest creation puts an African spin on the Hans Christian Anderson children's story, "The Emperor's New Clothes. It tells the story of Féli, a 40-something underling in a huge multinational company in Africa. Unexpectedly, he is made governor of the mining province of Zerbo, which is involved in a conflict with its powerful neighbors, the Krowas.

The two films are among six feature-films being presented in the Little Theatre, which is located on the corner of Oakland Drive and Oliver Street. Besides Congo and Quebec, films this year come from Algeria, Burkina Faso, France, Haiti and more. All of the films have English subtitles. As with previous years, this year's festival also will include a screening and competition of several short films.

The Francophone Film Festival is believed to be the only film festival of its kind. Francophone is a term that describes French-speaking cultures outside of Europe, including North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, Quebec and the French Caribbean.

"I think we have some really good films this year," says Dr. Vincent Desroches, WMU assistant professor of foreign languages and the festival's organizer. "It's a great chance to see some very wonderful and extremely rare films. People will not be disappointed."

The festival is supported by grants from WMU's Canadian Studies Group, Haenicke Institute for International and Area Studies, Department of Foreign Languages, School of Communication and from the Alliance Francaise of Kalamazoo and the governments of Quebec and Canada. The festival is presented in collaboration with the Kalamazoo Film Society.

Admission is $8 general admission and $5 for students. For more information, including film descriptions and screening times, go to the festival's Web site at www.wmich.edu/fffkazoo.

Media contact: Mark Schwerin, (269) 387-8400, mark.schwerin@wmich.edu

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