Students filled in rows of auditorium seats, lights dimmed and opening credits scrolled across a projector screen.
This may sound like a trip to a local cinema, and though a movie was being shown, it wasn’t an average American film. In fact, it wasn’t an American film at all.
This was the scene Thursday night in Blackington Hall as The Tournees Festival, a month-long festival featuring French films made its Pitt-Johnstown debut.
After a short introduction by French Literature Associate Professor Barbara Petrosky the film, “The Class,” began and it was clear the film would showcase some serious topics.
“All of the movies being shown in this festival were very famous in France,” Petrosky said in her introduction. “(They are) serious films about important issues.”
She said this is the first year the festival is being presented at Pitt-Johnstown, and she hopes it will be a success and believes it is a privilege that Pitt-Johnstown has been chosen as a venue.
“I had to apply for a competitive grant at the (French) consulate in order to show these new films on campus,” Petrosky said.
“The universities who receive the grant have to be located in small towns or rural areas far from theaters who would show foreign films.”
She said, in order to be selected, she had to choose a theme and wanted to choose something easily relatable to those viewing the films.
“I have chosen ‘Immigration and Integration in Modern French films’ because students can relate to this theme in this country,” Petrosky said, adding that she thinks viewers will benefit from the experience.
“The spectators will be able to learn about modern France and Europe, as well as about many issues such as immigration, racism, violence and integration.”
Though only one of five films was shown, it seems that many spectators are responding optimistically to the festival.
Pitt-Johnstown student John Berret-Fornoff said, though part of the reason he attended the event was to gain extra credit in a Spanish class, he was pleased with the presentation.
“I might go to all of them,” Berret-Fornoff said. “It was pretty interesting.”
Similarly, Pitt-Johnstown student Neville D’Agaro said he, too, enjoyed the film, but he was attending purely for pleasure.
“I just got an e-mail (about the event), and I enjoy watching French and foreign films,” D’Agaro said. “I figured I’d get a free movie, and I loved it.”
Petrosky said she was pleased with the attendance and hopes it remains constant throughout the festival.
“It was pretty good for a French movie,” Petrosky said, adding that approximately 40 people attended. She said students can receive global competency credits by attending.
The remaining films will be shown throughout the remainder of October.