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Being in the World Film Festival at Columbia Maison Française


The Velvet Queen ©Vincent Munier / Oscilloscope Laboratories

Being in the world (Columbia Maison Française)

Columbia University's Maison Française (some films will be Online with Albertine Cinematheque)
515 W 116th St
New York, US 10027

September 8 - October 27, 2022


Columbia University’s Maison Française 2022 film festival will explore Being in the World: People and the Planet in French and Francophone Cinema. Villa Albertine is excited to co-present the special outdoor screening of THE VELVET QUEEN as part of FILMS ON THE GREEN and the virtual screenings of three films as part of ALBERTINE CINEMATHEQUE.

Columbia University’s Maison Française presents 14 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 many of them have rarely been shown in the United States; several are U.S. premieres, one is an underappreciated gem of French cinema, another 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 several exquisite short films shot under water by free diver and director Julie Gautier), 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 agroecology and organic farming, with 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. 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) by Marie Amiguet and Vincent Munier, 2020, 92 min.
Low Library Plaza, Columbia Morningside campus, 116th Street entrance

September 11, 7:00 PM to September 18, 7:00 PM
A Cow’s Life (Bovines ou la vraie vie des vaches) by Emmanuel Gras, 2011, 64 min.
Emmanuel Gras will join us for a virtual discussion of his film A Cow’s Life on September 14 from 1:00 to 1:45 PM.

Wednesday, September 14,  7:00-9:15 PM
Above Water (Marcher sur l’eau) by Aïssa Maïga, 2021, 89 min.
Cowin Auditorium, Teachers College, Broadway and 120th Street

Friday, September 16, 7:30 PM–9:30 PM  
The Big Blue (Le Grand Bleu) by Luc Besson, 1988, 168 min.
Low Library Plaza, Columbia Morningside campus, 116th Street entrance

Friday, September 23, 7:00-9:00 PM
Farrebique, or The Four Seasons (Farrebique, ou les quatre saisons) by Georges Rouquier, 1946, 90 min.
Cowin Auditorium, Teachers College, Broadway and 120th Street

Friday, September 30 7:00-8:30 PM
(2022 U.S. Premiere), One Breath Around the World (2019), Ama (2018), Narcose (2014) – Four short films by Julie Gautier
Cowin Auditorium, Teachers College, Broadway and 120th Street

October 3, 7:00 PM to October 9, 11 PM
Animal by Cyril Dion, 2021, 105 min.
In connection with this virtual screening, we will present an online discussion and Q&A with Director Cyril Dion, Leah Aronowsky, and Jérémy Désir, moderated by Shanny Peer, on Thursday, October 6, 2:00-3:00 PM

Thursday October 6, 7:00-9:30 PM
Pierre Rabhi: In the Name of the Earth 
(Pierre Rabhi: au nom de la terre) by Marie-Dominique Dhelsing, 2013, 98 min.
U.S. Premiere, and first showing of English subtitled version
Cowin Auditorium, Teachers College, Broadway and 120th Street

Wednesday, October 12, 7:00-9:30 PM
A Bigger World (
Un Monde plus grand) by Fabienne Berthaud, 2019, 100 min.
Cowin Auditorium, Teachers College, Broadway and 120th Street

Thursday October 13, 7:00-9:30 PM
Antarctica: Ice and Sky
 (La glace et le ciel) by Luc Jacquet, 2015, 89 min.
Cowin Auditorium, Teachers College, Broadway and 120th Street

October 13, 7:00 PM to October 16, 11:00 PM
Cave of Forgotten Dreams by Werner Herzog, 2010, 89 min. 

Tuesday, October 18, 7:00-8:30 PM
The Red Turtle (La tortue rouge) by Michael Dudok de Wit, 2016, 80 min.
Maison Française East Gallery, Buell Hall 

Thursday, October 20, 7:00-9:30 PM
The Great Green Wall 
by Jared P. Scott, 2019, 90 min.
Cowin Auditorium, Teachers College, Broadway and 120th Street

Thursday October 27, 7:00-9:30 PM
Bigger Than Us
 by Flore Vasseur, 2020, 96 min.
Cowin Auditorium, Teachers College, Broadway and 120th Street

Free and open to all. RSVP required.


To watch all trailers, please click here

Produced and presented by Columbia Maison Française

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.

Curated by Shanny Peer, Fanny Guex and Clara Wilhelm

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


In partnership with

Columbia Maison Française

For more than a century, the Columbia Maison Française has been a leader in fostering intellectual and cultural exchange between the United States and France, Europe, and the French-speaking world. The rich program of events at the Maison Française generates debate, spotlights original scholarship, promotes exchange across disciplines at Columbia and beyond, and contributes to international and cross-cultural understanding in an increasingly global world.
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