Past Event

Being in the World: People and the Planet in French and Francophone Cinema

September 8, 2022 - October 28, 2022
7:00 PM - 10:00 PM
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With additional support provided by Cultural Services of the French Embassy, Columbia Climate School, Knapp Family Foundation, Paul LeClerc Centennial Fund, Columbia University Institute for Ideas and Imagination, Columbia Global Centers | Paris, Society of Fellows and Heyman Center for the Humanities, Alliance Program, and European Institute.

Screenings will be introduced or followed by panel discussions with film directors and invited scholars.  All films are subtitled in English.

Featured Films and Tentative Dates (dates TBC by August 15) (see descriptions and trailers below)

The Velvet Queen by Marie Amiguet and Vincent Munier (2021), September 8, 7:30 pm – outdoor screening (confirmed)

Le Grand Bleu by Luc Besson (1988), September 9, 7:30 pm – outdoor screening (confirmed), introduced by actor Jean Reno

Above Water by Aïssa Maïga (2021), September 15, 7:00 pm (TBC), Q&A with director Aïssa Maïga, Professors Umpnanu Lall and Rhiannon Stephens

Bovines by Emmanuel Gras (2011), Virtual Screening, September 11-18 (confirmed); virtual conversation with director Emmanuel Gras, September 14, 1:00 pm

Farrebique (ou les 4 saisons) by Georges Rouquier (1946), September 22, 7:00 pm (TBC), Q&A with Richard Peña

Animal by Cyril Dion (2021) - Virtual Screening, October 2-9 (confirmed); Virtual conversation with director Cyril Dion, and other guests on October 6, 1:00 PM (confirmed)

Pierre Rabhi: au nom de la terre by Marie Dominique Dhelsing (2013), October 6, 7:00 pm (TBC)

One Breath Around the World by Guillaume Néry and Julie Gautier (2019), Ama, Narcisse, and Narcose by Julie Gautier (short films), September 30, 7 pm (TBC), Q&A with director, choreographer, and free diver Julie Gautier

The Red Turtle by Michael Dudok de Wit (2016), September 30, 8:30 pm (TBC)

A Bigger World by Fabienne Berthaud (2019), October 12, 7:00 pm (TBC), Q&A with author Corine Sombrun, researcher Audrey Breton, and Professor Laurel Kendall

Cave of Forgotten Dreams by Werner Herzog (2010) - Virtual Screening, October 9-16 (confirmed); discussion with archeologist David Lewis-Williams, October 13, 1:00 pm 

The Great Green Wall by Jared P. Scott (2019), October 13, 7:00 pm (TBC), conversation with John Furlow

Antarctica: Ice and Sky by Luc Jacquet (2015), October 20, 7:00 pm (TBC), discussion with Dean Maureen Raymo

Bigger Than Us by Flore Vasseur (2020), October 27, 7:00 pm (TBC), Q&A with director Flore Vasseur and Professor Francesco Fiondella

Screenings are free and open to all. Masks required? ​​Proof of vaccination is required and masks are to be worn over the mouth and nose at all times.

Film festival description

Columbia University’s Maison Française presents twelve movies in its 2022 film festival about “Being in the World: People and the Planet in French and Francophone Cinema.” At a time of unprecedented threat to the planetary environment and stable climate that have made the growth of human civilization possible, we need to reconsider humanity’s place in the living world and the nature of our relationship with other species and the biosphere. By sharing these stories filmed by French and Francophone directors about people who seek to inhabit the earth differently, who understand the value of the natural environment and living creatures that surround us, and who have made activism a daily commitment, this festival opens windows on different ways of being in the world. The selection of films aims not just to inform us about the changing climate and risks to the planet’s environment, but to inspire us by highlighting constructive examples of people who appreciate the natural world and are working hard to find ways we can protect it and live within it sustainably.

Most of the featured movies are recent releases and have rarely been shown in the United States, one is an underappreciated gem of French cinema, another is a cult classic. Several films portray subjects pushing human limits to the extreme in a quest to explore the furthest reaches of the natural world – from the majestic heights of the Himalayan Mountains, in search of the mysterious and elusive snow leopard (Marie Amiguet and Vincent Munier’s The Velvet Queen, which kicks off the film series), to the ocean depths (with Luc Besson’s classic film The Big Blue, inspired by the life of two champion free divers, Jacques Mayol and Enzo Maiorca, and the 2019 exquisite short film One Breath Around the World, also about free diving), and the frigid polar regions (Luc Jacquet’s Antarctica: Ice and Sky about glaciologist Claude Lorius). Other featured films depict the changing relationship of farmers to the land they tend and the food they grow, from traditional subsistence farming – Georges Rouqiuer’s beautiful 1946 docu-fiction Farrebique – to a pioneer of the agroecology and organic farming movement, Pierre Rabhi, a remarkable Algerian-born farmer, thinker, writer, and international activist. Emmanuel Gras’s gorgeous documentary, A Cow’s Life, invites us to see the world from a cow’s perspective. Several movies explore some of the consequences of the climate crisis and humanity’s destructive relationship with the biosphere: Above Water, filmed in Niger by Aïssa Maïga, portrays one village’s quest to find water; Cyril Dion’s 2021 film Animal follows young activists seeking to understand the sixth mass extinction of earth’s species; and The Great Green Wall tracks the ambitious vision to grow a “wall” of trees stretching across the entire African continent to restore land and provide a future for millions of people. The Cave of Forgotten Dreams, Werner Herzog’s documentary about the Chauvet cave drawings created some 32,000 years ago, and Fabienne Berthaud’s A Bigger World, about shamanism in Mongolia, invite us to imagine different ways of relating to the natural world and to the invisible forces that are foreign to our modern materialistic and anthropocentric worldview. Michael Dudok de Wit’s animated film, The Red Turtle, offers an exquisitely poetic allegory about the human life cycle lived out in spare relationship with a tropical island’s natural environment. The festival’s closing film portrays inspiring examples of young people all across the world, from Indonesia to Malawi, leading efforts to preserve human dignity and protect nature, and to engage passionately in something Bigger Than Us.


Thursday, September 8 7:30 PM–9:30 PM  


The Velvet Queen (La panthère des neiges)

Marie Amiguet and Vincent Munier, 2020, 92 min.

Documentary, 92 min.

The wild, mountainous peaks of Tibet – a frigid, gorgeous, otherworldly landscape – are inhabited by antelope, soaring falcons, herds of yak, lumbering bears, and the diminutive but forbidding Pallas’ cat. But for world-renowned French wildlife photographer Vincent Munier and his intrepid companion, novelist/geographer Sylvain Tesson, the Holy Grail is the majestic, elusive snow leopard. Their adventurous sleuthing (making themselves as inconspicuous as possible) is punctuated by intimate conversations about the existential nature of their quest, and beautifully filmed against awe-inspiring views of the Himalayan mountains, with remarkable images of the wild animals they spy from a distance.  Winner of the César Award for best documentary in 2022.

Cesar for Best Documentary, 2022

Official Selection Festival de Cannes 2021

Nominated for two 2022 Lumière awards (in the category of Best Documentary and Best Musical Score)

To watch the trailer please click here

Franco-Swiss director Marie Amiguet trained as a biologist before obtaining a Master’s Degree in wildlife filmmaking. She was the cinematographer on Jean-Michel Bertrand’s The Valley of the Wolves (2016), and previously collaborated with Munier on Silence of the Beasts (2018), his film against lynx poaching. The Velvet Queen is her feature film directorial debut. Vincent Munier is one of the world's leading fine art wildlife photographers in the world today. With many beautiful art books to his name, and with limited edition prints that sell in the leading art galleries worldwide, Vincent is a true outdoorsman who is never happier than when he is out in nature, with the animals he loves so much.

Friday, September 9 7:30 PM–9:30 PM (confirmed)


The Big Blue (Le grand bleu)

Luc Besson, 1988, 168 min.

Introduced by Jean Reno / Valérie Mouroux (TBC)

Fiction, inspired by a true story

Director Luc Besson is famous for his imaginative visual technique and breathtaking action sequences. The Big Blue features gorgeous underwater photography and spectacular location shooting in the French Antibes, the Greek islands, Peru, and Taormina in Sicily. But it is the emotional intensity of the film experience and mystical themes of the story that made it into a cult phenomenon and one of France’s most commercially successful films, even if movie reviewers were sometimes less enthusiastic. The movie is a heavily fictionalized and dramatized story of the friendship and rivalry between two champion free divers, Jacques Mayol (played by Jean-Marc Barr) and Enzo Maiorca (played by Jean Reno), and Mayol’s relationship with his American girlfriend Johana Baker (Rosanna Arquette). Mayol was a screenwriter for the film, and his search for love, family, “wholeness” and the meaning of life and death, and the tension between his yearning for the big blue and his relationship with his girlfriend, also form part of the movie’s backdrop.

To watch trailer please click here.

Luc Besson is a French film director, screenwriter, and producer. As writer, director, or producer, Besson has so far been involved in the creation of more than 50 films. When Besson met the great free diver Jacques Mayol, this son of a diving instructor decided to plunge into Le Grand Bleu, an ambitious project. Le Grand Bleu (The Big Blue) dropped anchor at Cannes in 1988. Spectators were immediately swept off into a vertiginous underwater adventure magnified by the music of Éric Serra. The film was a unanimous success with spectators, much more so than expected. In France, 9 million viewers rushed to the cinema to see it, making the film a phenomenon that led the press to speak of a "génération Grand Bleu."

Thursday, Septembre 15  7:00-9:00 PM (Date TBC)
Above Water (Marcher sur l’eau)

Aïssa Maïga, 2021, 89 min.

Documentary followed by a discussion and Q&A with Director Aïssa Maïga, Professor Upmanu Lall, and Professor Rhiannon Stephens, moderated by Shanny Peer

Cowin Auditorium, Teachers College

From one end of the globe to the other, water is becoming increasingly scarce. For a billion people, access to safe drinking water is extremely limited… creating a global crisis with huge consequences. As a result, millions of families spend their lives trying to get access to water. Above Water focuses on 12-year-old Houlaye, who lives in a village in Tatis, Niger, and the families and community around her. She walks for several miles with other children every day to fetch water from a well. Water is abundant during the rainy season, but disappears during the dry season. However, two hundred meters below the surface, there is a water source that exceeds their imagination. Houlaye’s aunt Suri eventually convinces an NGO to build a well in the village. It brings the promise of a new life for these villagers who, unknowingly, had been above water all along.

Festival de Cannes 2021 - Official Selection

To watch the trailer please click here

Aïssa Maïga is a French actress and director. She was born in Senegal to a Senegambian mother and a Malian father, an acclaimed journalist. When she was four years old, she and her family moved to France where she later discovered her acting vocation. Aïssa has worked with a number of internationally renowned directors, including Michel Gondry (Mood Indigo), Abderrahmane Sissako (Bamako), and Michael Haneke (Code Unknown and Caché). Maïga is also an advocate for inclusion and has been vocal about racial discrimination in the film industry throughout her career. She directed two documentary films in 2021, Regard noir, and Marcher sur l’eau.

VIRTUAL SCREENING: September 11 at 7 PM to September 18 at 11 PM (confirmed)

A Cow’s Life (Bovines ou la vraie vie des vaches)

Emmanuel Gras, 2011, 64 min.

Virtual discussion and Q&A with Director Emmanuel Gras, September 14, 1:00 PM

In the fields, we can see them, lying on the grass or grazing peacefully. Large placid animals we take for granted. Lions, gorillas, or bears capture our attention, but has anyone ever closely documented a cow’s life? Asked what they were doing with their days? What they do when a storm passes? When the sun comes back? What are they thinking about when they stand there motionless, seemingly contemplating the void? Bovines chronicles the true life of a cow: grazing, ruminating, gazing - but also feeling - mooing with grief, or just enjoying an apple…

To watch the trailer please click here

Emmanuel Gras is a director of documentary-inspired films. His films address social topics and rely on a method of radical formalism. His works are at once experiments on what cinema can produce and how it can address a particular subject. They have been selected to be shown at numerous international festivals such as Vienna International Film Festival, BFI-London, New Directors New Film-New York, TIFF-Toronto, CPH: DOX-Copenhagen, KVIFF-Karlovy Vary, DOKer-Moscow, IDFA-Amsterdam, and have won several awards. His first feature film, Bovines, was nominated at the French Césars in 2013 for best documentary, while his more recent work, Makala, won the Critics' Week Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival in 2017. In 2019-20, he was a Fellow of the Columbia Institute for Ideas and Imagination in Paris.

Thursday, Septembre 22 7:00-9:00 PM (TBC)

Farrebique, or The Four Seasons (Farrebique, ou les quatre saisons)

Georges Rouquier, 1946, 90 min.

Docu-fiction followed by a discussion and Q&A with Richard Peña and Shanny Peer

Cowin Auditorium, Teachers College


Farrebique, the first feature-length film by French filmmaker Georges Rouqier, is widely regarded as his finest work. Rouqier concentrates on his ancestral family’s farm in the Rouergue, following the family and their neighbors through the cyclical changes of the four seasons. Richard Brody praises Farrebique and its 1983 sequel Biquefarre as “two outstanding works of world cinema that hardly get discussed because of their general unavailability.”  Farrebique, a “classic hybrid of fiction and nonfiction and classic work of dramatic sociology,” uses non-professional actors playing out a fictional family drama filmed in their real-life setting. Rouquier meticulously and faithfully documents the material life (clothing, gaslit interior, furnishings, tools), and daily gestures (making bread, cooking over the open hearth, darning socks and telling stories around the evening fire, plowing the field) of a peasant family just before the post-war transformation of French society that would rapidly modernize farming practices and lifestyles in rural France.

Grand prix du Cinéma Français

Grand prix international de la critique - Cannes 1946

To watch trailer please click here 

Georges Rouquier (1909-1989) is sometimes seen as the successor to the Robert Flaherty tradition of documentary filmmaking, but also, because of the context in which his first feature was released, as a champion of a specifically French neo-realism which paved the way for the French New Wave a decade later. Coming to Paris from the rural provinces, and getting a job as a linotypist, he spent much of his free time frequenting movie theaters where silent classics by the great Russian and Swedish directors were shown. Returning to his roots in the Rouergue to film the farming seasons in the mid-1940s, his feature caused controversy at the Cannes festival but was appreciated by others around the same time that Italian films were also experimenting with using real locations and some non-professional actors, so his work was picked up for U.S. distribution. In 2009, the French Cinématheque honored him with a retrospective.

Friday, September 30 8:30-10:00 PM (TBC)

The Red Turtle (La tortue rouge)

Michael Dudok de Wit, 2016, 80 min.

Cowin Auditorium, Teachers College

Through the story of a man shipwrecked alone on a tropical island inhabited by turtles, crabs and birds, and his encounter with a mysterious red turtle, The Red Turtle recounts the milestones in the life of a human being living in direct relationship with the island’s natural environment.  This animated film, told without dialogue, was written and directed by Belgian director Michael Dudok de Wit and co-produced by Isao Takahata and Toshio Suzuki from Studio Ghibli in Japan and Vincent Maraval from Wild Bunch International. Isao Takahata is also credited as artistic producer. The result is a poetic, esthetically stunning film inflected with a Japanese sensibility. Winner of Un Certain Regard Special Prize at the Festival de Cannes in 2016.

To watch the trailer please click here

Michael Dudok de Wit is a Dutch animator, director and illustrator based in London. He won an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film for Father and Daughter (2000) and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature for The Red Turtle (2016).


Friday, September 30 7:00-8:30 PM (TBC)

Narcisse (2022 US PREMIERE), One Breath Around the World (2019), Ama (2018), Narcose (2014)

Four short films by Julie Gautier followed by a discussion and Q&A with Julie Gautier

Cowin Auditorium, Teachers College

French free-diving champion Guillaume Néry and his partner Julie Gautier, also a free driver, take viewers on an underwater odyssey across the globe. Shooting underwater in locations from Mauritius to Mexico to Japan, and many stops in between, Néry and Gautier draw on their extensive experience to explore submerged ruins, swim beneath a thick sheet of ice, and mingle with a pod of sleeping sperm whales. In the process, they capture mesmerizing images of parts of the planet unseen by most of its human inhabitants. Their objective is to raise awareness about the ocean, showing its wildest and most amazing side. As the directors have said, "when you like something, you take care of it.” Add other film descriptions.

VIRTUAL SCREENING: October 3 at 7 PM to October 9 at 11 PM

Animal (Animal)

Cyril Dion, 2021, 105 min.

Documentary followed by a virtual discussion and Q&A with Director Cyril Dion  on zoom on Thursday, October 6 at 1 PM EST

The place of humankind among the living is the main subject of this film. At the instigation of Cyril Dion, who has already shared his vision in the highly acclaimed 2015 film Tomorrow (Demain), two teenager activists (Bella Lack and Vipulan Puvaneswaran) embark on an extraordinary quest to understand the impact of the ecological crisis and sixth mass extinction of the earth’s living species, and to find better ways for humans to cohabit more harmoniously alongside other animals. To do so, they travel and meet with scientists and activists all over the globe.

To watch the trailer please click here

Cyril Dion is a French writer, film director, poet, and activist. In 2007, he created the NGO Colibris with Pierre Rabhi and other few friends, which he managed until 2013. In 2012, he also co-founded the magazine Kaizen, to report on how to change the world step by step. He met Mélanie Laurent in 2011 and they produced the video Tous Candidats together for the NGO Colibris. Their shared desire to help the planet gave birth to the amazing documentary Tomorrow, which was an unexpected triumph and offers hopeful and clever solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges.

Thursday October 6 7:00-9:00 PM (TBC)

Pierre Rabhi: In the Name of Earth (Pierre Rabhi: Au nom de la terre)

Marie-Dominique Dhelsing, 2013, 98 min.


Cowin Auditorium, Teachers College

Pierre Rabhi was a farmer, writer, thinker, and international activist. He was one of the pioneers of agroecology in France. Passionate and committed for forty years to improving the condition of humankind and nature, he worked throughout his life to raise awareness about the natural world and about alternative approaches to farming, and envisioned a new model of society where a more healthy and "happy simplicity" would replace overconsumption, human destruction of the natural world, and the malaise of contemporary life. This documentary retraces the itinerary of this “wise man,” from the Algerian desert where he was born in 1938, to Ardeche, France, where he and his wife bought land and raised a family while teaching themselves how to tend the land organically, to helping communities learn organic farming practices, including several years spent working in Burkina Faso. This is the inspiring life story of a man of deep reflection and action “on behalf of the earth.”

To watch the trailer please click here

Marie-Dominique Dhelsing is a visual artist, photographer and documentary director. She has been making documentary films for the past twenty years on cultural and social subjects. After having taught at the school of decorative arts in Strasbourg, she intervenes regularly at the University of Poitiers and regularly offers workshops in connection with her artistic practice.

Tuesday October 11 7:00-9:00 PM (TBC)

A Bigger World (Un monde plus grand)

Fabienne Berthaud, 2019, 100 min.

Fiction, based on a true story

Screening followed by a discussion and Q&A with author Corine Sombrun, researcher Audrey Breton, and Professor Laurel Kendall

Cowin Auditorium, Teachers College

In order to get over the death of Paul, the love of her life, Corine (played by Cécile de France) leaves Paris for a few weeks to work as a sound engineer recording a shamanic ceremony in a remote corner of Mongolia populated by reindeer herders known as the Tsaatan. But her meeting with the shaman Oyun upends her plans, as Oyun tells Corine that she has received a rare gift and must be trained in shamanic traditions. She resists at first and returns to France, but she can’t shake off the shamanic visions and decides to return to Mongolia to begin her initiation... and discover a bigger world. This movie is based on the experience of Corine Sombrun, as told in her autobiographical account Mon initiation chez les Chamanes, who served as an advisor on the film. Since returning from her own experience in Mongolia, she has worked for 10 years with neuroscientists and psychiatrists in France doing brain research to understand the shamanic experience.

To watch the trailer please click here

Fabienne Berthaud is a French writer, actress, screenwriter and director. She started her career as film and theater actor, wrote four books and the script for a short film that she also co-directed. When, in 2001, she discovered the psychiatric institution La Chesnai for a novel, she decided to film the clinic. Frankie (2005) was her feature début as director, followed by Little Sometimes (2010), Sky (2016), A Bigger World, and Little Man Tom (2021).

Thursday, October 13, 7:00-9:00 PM (TBC)

The Great Green Wall

Jared P. Scott, 2019, 90 min.

Language: English, French, Bambara, Tigrigna, Hausa

Documentary followed by a discussion and Q&A with Director Jared P. Scott, and Professor John Furlow,  moderated by Shanny Peer

Cowin Auditorium, Teachers College

The effects of climate change on Africa’s Sahel region are devastating: desertification, famine, conflict and migration. Yet hope lies in the Great Green Wall, an ambitious reforestation project spanning the continent aimed at revitalizing ecosystems and restoring economies. In this story of resilience and self-determination executive produced by Fernando Meirelles, Malian musician/activist Inna Modja journeys from Senegal to Djibouti gathering stories and sharing songs with those on the frontline of the fight to save their land and their ways of life.

To watch the trailer please click here

Jared P. Scott lives in NYC. He is an Emmy-nominated director, New York Times bestseller and award-winning filmmaker. He has created impact-driven content for the United Nations,, Avaaz, Sierra Club, The People’s Climate Movement, Fridays for Future, Brookings Institution and has collaborated with luminaries such as Noam Chomsky, Greta Thunberg, Jane Goodall, Bill McKibben, Naomi Klein and Van Jones.

VIRTUAL SCREENING: October 13 at 7 PM to October 16 at 11 PM

Cave of Forgotten Dreams

Werner Herzog, 2010, 89 min.

Documentary preceded by a virtual discussion and Q&A with archeologist David Lewis-Williams DAVID on zoom on Thursday, October 13 at 1 PM EST

Werner Herzog gains exclusive access to film inside the Chauvet-Pont-d’Arc caves of Southern France and captures some of the oldest known and most well-preserved pictorial creations of early humans, dating back as far as 32,000 years ago. The limestone cave contains a wealth of beautiful images of galloping horses and a ghostly menagerie of bison, cave lions, cave bears, and wooly mammoths.  Multiple red palm prints by one of the early artists reappear along the cave walls. The images attest to the admiration and respect these prehistoric humans held for animals and the natural world, and to their worldview described by an archeologist in the film as one with more porous boundaries between the seen and the unseen, and between animal spirits and the human souls who live alongside them.  Werner Herzog exercises all his talent here to capture what he calls the “beginnings of the early human soul.” Many of the researchers interviewed seem deeply moved by the cave drawings and the mysterious atmosphere they create, which the film hauntingly conveys to its viewers.

New York Film Critics Circle Awards 2011 Winner - Best Nonfiction Film

Washington Film Critics Awards 2011 Winner - Best Documentary

To watch the trailer please click here

Werner Herzog is a German film director, screenwriter, author, actor, and opera director, regarded as a pioneer of New German Cinema. His films often feature ambitious protagonists with impossible dreams, people with unique talents in obscure fields, or individuals in conflict with nature. He is known for his unique filmmaking process, such as disregarding storyboards, emphasizing improvisation, and placing the cast and crew into similar situations as characters in his films.

Thursday October 20 7:00-9:00 PM (TBC)

Antarctica: Ice and Sky (La glace et le ciel)

Luc Jacquet, 2015, 89 min.

Documentary followed by a discussion and Q&A with Dean Maureen Raymo


Antarctica: Ice and Sky tells the story of French glaciologist Claude Lorius, who found his life’s calling at age 23 on a scientific expedition to the Antarctic and became one of the first scientists to call attention to anthropogenic climate change. Antarctica: Ice and Sky is an epic tale, in which science and adventure meet. The film assembles decades of dramatic archival footage of the early days of scientific exploration in sub-zero temperatures in the polar regions, including Lorius’s pioneering work to develop an ice corer that would eventually extract ice cores thousands of meters below the frozen surface to look hundreds of thousands of years back into the history of the climate. One of Lorius’s most significant discoveries—made when he placed some ancient ice in celebratory glasses of whiskey—was that the ice contained air from the era in which it was formed. 

To watch the trailer please click here

Luc Jacquet is a French film director and screenwriter. He has a master's degree in Animal Biology and a DEA in management of natural mountain environments. During a CNRS ornithological mission in Antarctica, he was given the role of cameraman for the Swiss director Hans-Ulrich Schlumpf for the documentary film Le Congrès des pingouins, which started his career as a documentary film director. He wrote and directed the film March of the Penguins, which won an Oscar for Best Documentary Feature in 2005 and received a nomination for the Writers Guild of America Award for Best Documentary Screenplay. He also directed The Fox And the Child (2008), with narration by Kate Winslet in the English version. His film Antarctica: Ice and the Sky was selected to close the 2015 Cannes Film Festival.

Thursday October 27 7:00-9:00 PM (TBC)

Bigger Than Us

Flore Vasseur, 2020, 96 min.

Documentary followed by a discussion and Q&A with Director Flore Vasseur and Professor Francesco Fiondella, moderated by Shanny Peer

Cowin Auditorium, Teachers College

Filmed in Malawi, Lebanon, Brazil, the U.S., Greece, Indonesia and Uganda, Bigger Than Us is a feature-length documentary about seven inspiring teenage and young adult activists engaging, like many in their generation, in a struggle for human rights, freedom of expression, social and environmental justice, women’s rights, access to education and food, and a liveable climate. In Indonesia, Melati leads an effort to fight the plastic pollution ravaging her country. Mohamad is a Syrian refugee who built a school when he was still a teenager himself to teach Syrian refugee children living in temporary camps in Lebanon. Winnie began organizing as a teenager and succeeded in changing the legal marriage age from 15 to 18 in Malawi. Memory bought herself an education by carrying food to her teachers in Uganda and now helps refugee farmers in her country learn permaculture to rehabilitate soils ravaged by chemical pesticides and overuse. Mary rescues migrants crossing the sea from Turkey to Greece. Rene created a newspaper at age 11 in the slums of Rio de Janeiro. Xiuhtezcatl battles against fracking and environmental racism in Colorado on behalf of his ancestors and future generations. All of them set an admirable and inspiring example in their quest to preserve human dignity and protect the natural environment, and to engage passionately in something “bigger than us.”

To watch the trailer please click here

Flore Vasseur is a French novelist, director and producer. An entrepreneur in New York at the age of 24, Flore Vasseur lived through the Internet bubble, September 11 and a capitalist system that was cracking on all sides. Since then, she has written books, articles and television documentaries to understand the end of one world and the emergence of another. Her latest book, What Remains of Our Dreams, is an investigative novel about the little-known real-life story of Aaron Swartz, the child prodigy of code who wanted us to be free, persecuted by the Obama administration. Bigger than Us is her first documentary film.