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
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.
Richard Peña is a Professor of Film Studies at Columbia University, where he specializes in film theory and international cinema. From 1988 to 2012, he was the Program Director of the Film Society of Lincoln Center and the Director of the New York Film Festival. Together with Unifrance, he created in 1995 “Rendez-Vous with French Cinema,” the leading American showcase for new French cinema.
Shanny Peer is the Director of the Columbia Maison Française and holds a Ph.D. in French Studies from NYU. She is a co-curator of the Being in the World film festival.
This screening is part of Being in the World: People and the Planet in French and Francophone Cinema, a film festival curated 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.