Spotlight: French film festival at Holyoke Community College; Lucy Dacus plays Pearl Street

Published: 3/14/2019 4:28:13 PM

Cinéma français à Holyoke

Considering its history of French-Canadian immigration, Holyoke would seem a good setting for a French film festival — and that’s just what’s on tap starting next week at Holyoke Community College, as the school presents six free French-language movies on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings over the next three weeks.

The six films (with English subtitles) include a classic directed by Jean Renoir, arguably France’s greatest filmmaker, as well as “Deux Jours, Une Nuit” (Two Days, One Night), an acclaimed 2014 drama starring Marion Cotillard — nominated for an Academy Award for her role — as a factory worker fighting to keep her job.

The festival, which begins Tuesday, March 19 and runs through April 3, also features  “Loin des Hommes” (Far from Men), an adaptation of an Albert Camus story about a French teacher (Viggo Mortensen) and an Algerian fugitive (Reda Kateb) as they make their way through the mountains of Algeria during the country’s war of independence in 1954.

“Loin des Hommes” screens Wednesday, March 20 and “L’Atelier” (The Workshop), a story about a novelist teaching a youth writing workshop in a once-prosperous seaside town now down on its luck, will screen Tuesday. All films begin at 7 p.m. in the Leslie Phillips Theater in HCC's Fine & Performing Arts building.

"If there's a theme that ties the films together, it's the power of community," HCC professor Margaret Sweeney, one of the organizers, says in a statement. "I think all of the films deal … with the ways in which groups of people, particularly common people, maybe somewhat disenfranchised people, come together to overcome obstacles."

Renoir’s “Le Crime de Monsieur Lange” (The Crime of Monsieur Lange), from 1936, examines French political debates of that era, as a publishing company, deserted by its rapacious owner, forms a workers’ cooperative, than must deal with the owner’s unexpected return. Another acclaimed French filmmaker, François Truffaut, once called the movie, which screens April 2, “touched by grace.”

For additional information on HCC’s French film festival, contact Sabine Charton-Long at or Margaret Sweeney at


We love Lucy

Just 23 years old, Richmond, Virginia singer-songwriter and indie rocker Lucy Dacus has become a huge critics’ favorite, earning acclaim from a slew of places — Rolling Stone, NPR, the New Yorker, People magazine — and lengthy interviews in publications like The New York Times, which praises her “big, unadulterated voice and tattooable lyrics … [and] emotionally astute songwriting.”

Dacus, who plays at Pearl Street in Northampton on Saturday, March 16, has been riding a new round of praise in the past year for her most recent album, “Historian,” on Matador Records, a considerably more involved affair than her first album, “No Burden,” which was recorded in less than 24 hours as part of a friend’s school project. 

One of her new tunes, “Night Shift,” is cited as a good example of Dacus’ preternatural poise and observations. The song, about a painful breakup, closes with the chorus “You got a nine to five, so I’ll take the night shift / And I’ll never see you again if I can help it / In five years I hope the songs feel like covers /Dedicated to new lovers.”

“She doesn’t merely reckon with loss or paint a portrait of grief,” writes Paste magazine. “ ‘Historian’ digs deeper than that. It’s an album about the way people carry each other through time.”

Dacus plays the Pearl Street Ballroom Saturday at 8 p.m. Mal Blum and Fenne Lily open the show.

— Steve Pfarrer 








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