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International Cinema: April 2024 Films Recap

IC explores silent films and the Deaf community in April’s films and lectures.

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Every month, International Cinema holds free international film lectures and showings. These films explore various themes and display a wide array of cultures. This April, faculty from the Theatre & Media Arts Department and the French & Italian Department, along with one BYU student, presented lectures about two films before their showings.

April 3–6: The Last Laugh

Produced in 1924 and directed by F. W. Murnau, this silent German film follows an old hotel doorman who loses his job and tries to find his place as a washroom attendant.

While producers stopped making silent films after the early 20th century, TMA Associate Professor Dean Duncan assured audience members that we can still learn from and enjoy their theatrical elements and creative ways of storytelling. In his lecture, he explained how this medium of film requires the directors to think outside the box to communicate the story without speaking. Actors also have to use a different kind of acting to portray emotion without sound. Duncan refers to the main actor in The Last Laugh as a “ham,” meaning an excessively theatrical actor, which again makes it easier for the audience to understand emotions and reactions despite a lack of words.

April 10–13: The Bélier Family

Produced in 2014 and directed by Éric Lartigau, this lighthearted French film follows a teenager named Paula whose entire family is deaf. Paula discovers she has a gift for singing and must balance her pursuit of a musical career with her obligation to support her family.

Professor Bob Hudson (French Literature, Film, and Cuisine) started his lecture by giving context about the film and the lead actors. Hudson said, “It is a family film. It’s a film that celebrates this family unit in its diversity and also celebrates rural France.”

Suzanne Stimpson, a mechanical engineering student who teaches an ASL 101 class, shared her experience being a child of deaf adults (CODA), which allowed her to comment on the accuracy of the film. She explained how Paula may have felt split between two worlds, hearing and deaf, and how that may have affected her desire to pursue a career her parents couldn’t fully experience with her. However, Stimpson assured the audience that although Paula’s parents, and her own parents, couldn’t hear, they were still very capable. She said, “My parents have never been people that I consider, in any capacity, not being able to do anything. In fact, they very much show me that they can do anything they want. You’ll see this in the film too.”

Learn more about past and future films and lectures by visiting the International Cinema website.