February 19, 6:30 pm — Taylor Hall 203

Félicité / 2017 / Alain Gomis / 129 min

Introduction: Patricia Pia-Célérier (French, Vassar College)

Respondent: Ashley Fent (Earth Science and Geography, Vassar College)

Félicité is a nightclub singer in a little bar in Kinshasa who lives alone with her teenage son Samo. When Samo severely injures himself in a motorcycle accident, Félicité must find a way to raise the money to pay for an operation or allow her son’s leg to be amputated. The originality and power of French-Senegalese director Alain Gomis’s fourth feature lies in the way it transcends this simple against-the-clock narrative, the kind of story that has driven films of social realism from Bicycle Thieves to the Dardenne brothers, to create a shifting, complex portrait of the struggles, joys, and imagination of a modern-day heroine—and by extension, of the city she lives in. Filming in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a country previously unfamiliar to him, Gomis confirms the tremendous promise of his earlier films, walking a porous line between dream and waking life, magic and bureaucracy, observation and fantasy, that at its best suggests a new cinematic language. Alive with the diverse sounds of various Kinshasa musicians, Félicité is an engrossing, deep dive into the days and, especially, nights of a city by turns nightmarish and surprisingly radiant.


This Tournées Film Festival is made possible with the support of the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the U.S., the Centre National du Cinéma et de l’Image Animée (CNC), the French American Cultural Fund, Florence Gould Foundation and Highbrow Entertainment.

The festival is cosponsored by the Department of Film, the Women’s Studies Program, the Dean of Faculty and the VSA French Club.