Crossing cultures with English film series

Hosted by the English and modern languages departments, the international film series had two showings of the foreign film “L’Auberge Espagnole” on Sept. 20 at 3:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. in the Lowrimore Auditorium in the Cauthen Educational Media Center (CEMC). 

“L’Auberge Espagnole,” French for “The Spanish Apartment,” is a French-Spanish film starring French actor Romain Duris. The film follows his character Xavier’s year-long experience studying abroad in Barcelona, Spain, and mixes together a plethora of cultures and languages such as French, Spanish, English and Italian.  

 “This is the first time we have mentioned the study abroad program,” Kristin Kiely, professor of Spanish and coordinator of the modern languages program, said. “We have had students want to study abroad and we have tried to push them to study abroad. We have taken them to Spain and France before. The students enjoy seeing the culture. They get to appreciate a culture that they would not necessarily see, so it helps get them more interested in something they would not normally experience.” 

The showing of this film was done to introduce students to the idea of studying abroad and present new cultures to them through this multicultural film.  

“We are setting up an exchange Burgos, Spain,” Kiely said. “I thought, why not show students what the experience looks like and promote our study abroad program. In this movie, you could hear German, Danish, Spanish, English and French all in one film so our French students, Spanish students, could all come and hear all the different languages.” 

In order to promote both the program and study abroad options, the modern languages department hosts several events throughout the school year. The international film series, however, draws in perhaps the largest crowds as it works with the English department to showcase and promote its film showings. 

“We have been doing the international film series since 2018,” Shawn Smolen-Morton, professor of film studies and organizer of the English film series, said. “I try to collaborate with other departments at Francis Marion University so that we get a diversity of students interacting. We have had as many as 266 people come to watch a film, which was ‘Juno’ in 2008.”  

The purpose of these film showings is to broaden the cultural horizons of students and expand the students’ minds. 

“By exposing people to films like this, they may not like the film and they may never watch a film like this again, but at the very least they know it exists,” Smolen-Morton said. “Many of the students that come to Francis Marion have never left the Pee Dee. They have not even been to Charleston let alone to Paris or Spain. With this specific showing tonight, we are really trying to get students to consider studying abroad or otherwise experience other cultures. We are trying to use the film series as a gateway to other ways of thinking and living.” 

Typically, the film series premiers three films every semester. The next film scheduled to be shown will be the 2018 documentary “RBG,” about the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Oct. 19 in the Lowrimore Auditorium.