Arts and Entertainment

Professor Reflects on French Film Festival’s Impact at UCBA



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For three years now, the UCBA French program has put together a fantastic Film Festival every fall that welcomes language students, e-media students, film and design students, and many more to come and experience the thoughtful realm of French films. Professor Jody Ballah, who teaches French, worked extensively to obtain these grants and have the rights to show these movies at UCBA. She says, “Having the grant to host the festival on our campus allows us to bring films to the community free of charge that may not be released in theaters in the Cincinnati area.”  This festival not only promotes European influence on campus, but also welcomes outside audience members who are not students.  Many French-speaking locals attend and offer their insights during the post-film discussion.  This exciting fall tradition allows students to bring their friends and family and enjoy a Thursday evening watching films they wouldn’t otherwise ever see, eat yummy snacks, and meet interesting people.

Jody Ballah, MA, Dip.EdBallah states, “I think the festival is a great way to unite the Blue Ash community with the College community and also students from different disciplines who can bring their interests to the film screenings.” When she began this tradition in 2015, she actually gleaned her inspiration from NKU, who was hosting a Film Festival similar to this one.  She was fascinated by the idea and inquired as to how she could do something similar for her school.  It was then that she learned of a grant she could obtain from the French Embassy.

Incredibly, Ballah was able to get a five-year grant from this embassy that has funded the festival for these past three years, going on four.  Although most French students are encouraged to attend for extra credit, she states that this event not only attracts language students.  Because of the accessibility of UCBA (free parking, convenience of location etc.)  many community members attend, and some are even fluent in French.  Another great attraction is that each showing is free of charge—the only thing you may want to bring money for is the concession stand.  The films are easy to understand with the English subtitles, and very interesting to decipher because French films are much different than American blockbusters.

Usually, the films shown are works of art that can be interpreted in different ways depending on the viewer.  This is why the post-film discussion is such an interesting part of the event.  The speakers help guide your understanding of the movie and also allow audience members to speak if they are willing.  The festival, in this way, not only promotes the entertainment of these films, but also the artistic license that the film-makers take.   Sometimes as Americans, we lose the artistic aspect in movies and are focused solely on the action-packed thrillers that dominate Hollywood.  Thanks to Jody Ballah and the French Embassy, this love and appreciation for the artistic talent that goes into each of these films is brought to light for students and community members to enjoy.

So, if you have time this fall to attend one of these showings, you won’t regret it.  You will be able to enjoy a cozy evening with friends and family, free of charge, viewing a movie that wouldn’t otherwise be accessible to you in American theaters.  You can interact with Jody Ballah and her French students as they welcome you, and most importantly, you can be apart of the experience of students and community members coming together to appreciate something we all love—art.


About Hannah Roberts

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