Screen/Society--French Film Series--"Welcome"
(Philippe Lioret, 2008, 110 min, France, in French w/ English subtitles, Color, 35mm)
Introduced by Prof. Anne-Gaëlle Saliot, Dept. of Romance Languages!
Both a study of a budding friendship and a compassionate look at the perils faced by illegal immigrants, Philippe Lioret’s Welcome centers on Bilal, a 17-year-old Iraqi Kurd who is stuck in Calais, in Northern France, and Simon, a recently divorced swimming teacher. Desperate to join his girlfriend in London, Bilal vows to swim across the English Channel if he has to, setting the stage for his meeting with Simon. The older man’s motives for helping Bilal train for his journey at first remain unclear: Is he trying to impress his ex-wife, Marion, who works for an organization that helps refugees?
Soon, however, Simon develops a genuine bond with the teenage immigrant, growing increasingly more protective of him, even though he risks prosecution by caring for Bilal. Unmistakably a condemnation of xenophobia in France, Welcome also features richly drawn, fully fleshed-out lead characters; though not perfect, Bilal and Simon strive to be good, decent people. Acting veteran Lindon and first-time performer Ayverdi beautifully play off each other as Simon and Bilal slowly start to form a tender surrogate father-son connection.
-- Part of the French Film Series.
-- Winner for Best Picture at the 2010 Lumière Awards, recipient of the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury at the 2009 Berlin International Film Festival, winner of the Audience Award at the 2009 Warsaw International Film Festival, and nominated for 10 César Awards (French Academy Awards) in 2010!
Cost: Free and Open to the Public
Sponsors: Program in Arts of the Moving Image (AMI), Center for French and Francophone Studies, Romance Studies and Center for Canadian Studies