World Film Forum Fall 2014 - Screening the Past

Come to the Lafayette Theater (600 Main Street, Lafayette, IN 47901) this fall and travel with the World Film Forum to far-off lands.

The World Film Forum presentations will be held free of charge. Doors open to the public for free popcorn and cash bar at 6:30. A brief introduction to each film will be given at 7 pm; presenters will lead audience discussion afterwards. Films are shown with English subtitles.

On the first three Tuesdays in November at the Lafayette Theater (600 Main Street, Lafayette, IN 47901), the World Film Forum will offer some fresh and fascinating perspectives on Russian, Greek, and French history in the twentieth century. This Fall's theme, with its emphasis on stories of the past that are rarely told and voices that sometimes go unheard, is inspired in part by a one-day conference taking place earlier in the Fall semester, "Teaching the Past: Dissenting Histories in the Classroom."

Nov. 4 -- White Sun of the Desert directed by Vladimir Motyl

1970, USSR, action/adventure/comedy, 85 minutes. Presenter: John Hope, Assistant Professor of Russian.

“White Sun of the Desert,” directed by renegade filmmaker Vladimir Motyl, was the Soviet Union’s most beloved action film.  Borrowing from the traditions of the Western and set against the Soviet reconquest of Central Asia, the film follows the adventures of the white-hatted Red Army gunslinger Fedor Sukhov and his sidekick Said as they attempt to defend a harem from a bandit gang.  Its action scenes, ironic mockery of Soviet mythology, music, and one-liners worked to make it an audience favorite since its release in 1970.

Nov. 11 -- "Z" directed by Costa-Gavras

1969, France/Algeria, 127 min. Presenter: Madeleine Henry, Professor of Classics and Head of the School of Languages and Cultures.

Greece is often thought of as the cradle of western democracy, but its recent history has often been far from this idealized view.  In 1963, the democratic Greek politician Grigoris Lambrakis was assassinated.  The 1969 film Z is named for the word ζει (= “he is alive”), which became a Greek protest slogan.  It tells of the uncovering of the right-wing conspiracy that brought about the murder.  Though the conspirators are indicted, they are not punished, as one might expect.  

The French-language film, with music by Mikis Theodorakis, is based on the 1966 novel of the same name by Vassilis Vassilikos, and was extremely popular.

Nov. 18 -- "La Rafle" directed by Roselyne Bosch

2010, France, drama, 115 min. Presenter: Allen Wood, Professor of French.

“La Rafle” (“The Round-up”), starring Jean Reno, is based on the historical events of the mass arrests on July 16-17 1942 and incarceration of 13,152 Jewish men, women and children in Paris’ Indoor Bicycle Arena (Vélodrome d’Hiver, or Vél’ d’Hiv).   “La Rafle” tells the true story of a young Jewish boy, Jo Weisman, and the experiences faced by his family and friends. Almost all the Parisian Jews were sent from the Vél’ d’Hiv to one of the many French internment camps, and eventually to their death in Auschwitz.

For decades the French (government, press, people) were hesitant to discuss the Vél’ d’Hiv round-up, and only then as a Nazi atrocity. "La Rafle" is one of two films made in 2010 that confronted these events; the other, "Sarah's Key," presents them as the setting for a fictional story-line. Yet "La Rafle" accurately portrays the very real and recently documented full collaboration of French authorities with the Nazi regime.

This community film and discussion forum is sponsored by the School of Languages and Cultures and the Interdisciplinary Program in Film and Video Studies.

For more information, please email the WFF coordinator, Prof. Antonia Syson (

Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907 (765) 494-4600

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