“Exclusive new class with San Francisco Chronicle Film Critic Mick LaSalle”

La Beauté du Réel : Women in Today’s French Cinema

French cinema has always been interested in women’s stories. But right now, something is happening in France that has never happened anywhere, except once, in Hollywood in the 1930s. France has at least two dozen top-tier actresses doing the best work of their lives, making the kind of women’s films that America once specialized in, but making them for our era. Indeed, French films dealing with women’s issues are not considered women’s films. They’re films for everybody.

San Francisco Chronicle Film Critic Mick LaSalle invites you to celebrate the upcoming publication of his new book, “The Beauty of the Real” (Stanford University Press) with a seven week immersion into the work of France’s finest contemporary actresses. The course will feature exclusive audio interviews and films and clips you can’t find anywhere in the United States. At a time when Hollywood is squandering an entire generation of female talent, the modern-day Hepburns, Davises, Crawfords and Garbos are in France, making three movies a year. It’s time we met them.

If you are interested in taking this class, you can register online or you can contact us, we will be happy to give you more informations as well.

Alliance Française de San Francisco
1345 Bush Street | (415)775-7755

Etienne Siffert, prêtre en l’église Notre-Dame-des-Victoires, San Francisco

Né à Paris en 1931, le jeune Etienne Siffert a dû se réfugier à Lyon en mai 1940, du fait de l’invasion allemande, dans un collège tenu par les Frères des Ecoles Chrétiennes. En 1941 il est recueilli par une tante, à Montluçon, et poursuit ses études dans un collège tenu par les Pères Maristes. Revenu à Paris après la guerre, il poursuivit sa vocation en entrant dans le séminaire des Pères Maristes avec pour but de devenir missionnaire en Océanie. Ayant passé sa licence de Lettres à la Sorbonne, ses supérieurs lui demandent après son ordination en 1958 d’enseigner le latin, le grec et le français dans un de leurs collèges. C’est seulement en 1969 qu’il pourra se rendre en Océanie à la demande de l’évêque de Wallis-et-Futuna qui cherche un directeur de l’enseignement. Il passera alors cinq années à former des enseignants, construire des écoles et enseigner.

En 1975, on l’envoie à la paroisse française de San Francisco où il va exercer son ministère : baptêmes, mariages, enterrements, enseignements religieux, visites des malades à l’Hôpital Français etc…Il est contraint de retourner sur les bancs d’une salle de classe afin d’améliorer son anglais et étudie les actes religieux de ses compatriotes pour mieux appréhender l’histoire de la communauté française de San Francisco.
Devenu curé de cette paroisse en 1983, il apprend que la mairie de San Francisco cherche à protéger certains bâtiments  de la demolition en les nommant “monuments historiques”. Avec ses paroissiens, il se rend à la Mairie et obtient, le 27 août 1984, un décret protégeant l’église de toute demolition et la classant “monument historique” numéro 173 de San Francisco.

Les difficultés vont resurgir après le tremblement de terre du 17 octobre 1989. Même si l’église ne subit aucun dégât, la ville exige que l’on renforce les pilliers et les fondations du presbystère ainsi que de l’église pour pallier à des dommages plus importants en cas de nouveau tremblement de terre. Grâce à la générosité des paroissiens, Mr Siffert parvient à réunir les trois millions de dollars nécessaires pour commencer les travaux le 28 avril 1996 et les achever au Noël de la même année. Notre-Dame-des-Victoires fut ainsi la première église catholique mise aux normes, comme l’avait exigée la Loi sur la Sécurité. D’autres furent vendues ou démolies.

Après cela, le Père s’investit davantage encore dans l’assistance à autrui, notamment en créant des bourses permettant à des enfants de son école de rester scolarisés quand les parents, suite à des difficultés personelles, ne pouvaient plus payer les frais de scolarités. En 2004, il céda la place de curé à un père mariste plus jeune tout en continuant son ministère au Lycée Lapérouse, auprès des malades, ou répondant aux nombreuses demandes qu’il reçoit, émanant de tout le monde à propos de l’histoire des Français en Californie, en particulier concernant les recherches généalogiques.

“French San Francisco” by Claudine Chalmers

Coming from the summary of the back page :

Nineteenth-century California was not a destination for the faint of heart, and Frenchmen are usually said to prefer their slippers to their traveling boots. Yet many visitors from France – starting in 1786 with legendary explorer Count de Lapérouse – made their way to the remote and beautiful territory, leaving enduring accounts and images of their experience. As France’s troubled revolutionary era began in the 1940’s, tens of thousands of Frenchmen journeyed to California’s goldfields.  Some found wealth, others freedom, and some death. Many remained in San Francisco, helping shape the city and make it French from the inside.

If you want to read some more, the book is

for sale at the Alliance Française.

Tony Gatlif et sa liberté


Tony Gatlif is little known contemporary French/Algerian director and music composer. His marginal films have kept him out of the spotlight, yet he is appreciated as an excellent cinematographer.

Son of Andalusian gypsies born in a suburb of Algers, Algeria, Gatlif becomes a street kid at the tender age of twelve to escape an arranged marriage. He barely attends school, and any form of punishment from his teachers, no matter how strict, remains unsuccessful. Then one day, an instructor takes Gatlif and his friends to the local Cinema club and there begins the boy’s love affair with cinema.

He arrives in France at the age of fourteen, with no plans, money, or direction. He vagabonds from Marseilles to Paris, sneaks into the theaters at the Grand Boulevards to sleep and stay warm. He is taken in and out of juvenile centers. Yet, this doesn’t stop the boy from following his strange intuition and pursue his passion for cinema. His unstoppable persistence serves him well when he sneaks into his idol Michel Simon’s dressing room after a show and asks him if he thinks that he’ll make a good director. The actor assures this strange boy that yes he will. He even writes him a letter of recommendation which allows Gatlif to enter an acting school that is training another starting star, Gerarld Depardieu. Gatlif is still mostly illiterate and learns his lines phonetically.

It is around that time that he writes his first screenplay which leads to a movie released in 1975 called “La Tete en Ruine.”

He has made a few movies after that, including “Corre Gitano” released in 1981 that he considers a failure because it presents flamenco through the eyes of a spectator.

Gatlif will not make the same mistake twice. The film that he made after that is a film/documentary called Latcho Drom (1993). This film has no cast or dialogue, it is an experience of voyaging through the musical and dance traditions of gypsies from India, Egypt, Turkey, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, France, to Spain. Latcho Drom is a celebration of life and differences. Gatlif doesn’t provide any commentary but rather shows his audience the heart of a culture that is immensely diverse and deeply misunderstood.

The film received a lot of attention because of its visual force. Gatlif tackled a subject that was and is becoming more and more controversial in France through poetry. He poses as a witness rather than a “writer” or “director” and gives a voice to every character in the film.

He then released Gadjo Dilo (1998) and Exiles (2004) both starring the celebrated actor Romain Duris.

Gatlif’s cinematic style is blunt. Unlike “Corre Gitano” which he deemed a failure due to its observant filming technique, his latest films make the viewer a participant. This effect brings a sense of belonging and responsibility as an audience. His style is very realistic yet manages to keep a sense of fantasy through the authentic and unique musical score that he mostly composes himself.

More importantly his stories tackle a universal theme, which is that of the constant renewal of the self.

Gatlif was a traveler, a nomadic man who crossed territories that had their own fixated history. Yet his spectacular films portray a human inclination towards fluidity with an ironic desire to cling on to an “identity” while constantly chasing freedom.


He is currently working on a documentary called Les Indignés expected to come out in 2012 about the protests in Europe, primarily in Spain, that were sparked by the “Arab Spring” and that mirrored Stephan Hessel’s manifesto Indignez-vous! (Indigène, 2010).

Korkoro (2008) – A beautiful tale about the survival of a family of gypsies during WWII.

Exiles (2004) – A Parisian couple of Algerian roots journeying by foot to Algeria to reconnect with lost roots.

Gadjo Dilo (1997) – A Frenchman travels to Romania to find a singer that his father idolized.

Latcho Drom (1993)

Music: Taraf de Haidouks Romani musicians who appear in Latcho Drom. They play traditional music from Clejani. I recommend the Album “A Band of Gypsies” released in 2001.

Written by Joséphine

The Fediver Publishing House is looking for artists !

If you like dark humor, this is for you !
Original notification : fediver

In the newspaper, you always find a section called miscellaneous / “faits divers”, which states unclassifiable facts, more often tragic (kidnapping, stealing, murder… Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s story, for example).
The students of Paris University “La Sorbonne” are leading a project to illustrate a novel, a numerical book and a website. They are looking for artists, illustrators, graphic designers, photographers…

Think about a real miscellaneous fact that has interested you. Split it up, grind it, sublimate it, knead it, shift it, transform it, interrogate it, versify it, criticize it the way you want.
If your work is appreciated, it will illustrate a novel, published in France and presented at Paris Book Festival / “Le Salon du Livre”.

For more information, or to submit your work :
email : contact@editions-fediver.fr
mail address : Master 2 Édition / Faits divers Université Paris IV-Sorbonne /
UFR de Littérature Française et Comparée / Bureau F048 /
1, rue Victor Cousin / 75005 Paris
Facebook : Éditions fediver