CINE 039 950 – Penn in Cannes 2015

Prof. Peter Decherney



Penn-in-Cannes is designed for students interested in the global film industry and international cinema. Using the Cannes film festival as its focal point, the program examines the ways in which international film functions in the context of celebrity, marketing, and festivals.


Friday, March 27: 1st Pre-Departure Lecture

Friday, May 1: 2nd Pre-Departure Lecture and deadline for first paper

May 12 – 25: Program in Cannes

June 30: Deadline final paper along with a selection of 10 typed full daily entries from your journal


The course begins with two introductory lectures held on Penn’s campus to enable students to establish a critical vocabulary for film study and a basic understanding of the international film industry and film festival circuit. The lectures and subsequent discussions will examine: (a) contemporary international cinema and (b) the business, art, and history of film festivals. Students are required to watch at least six international films (using the list below) and write a pre-departure paper (5-pages in length) by May 1.

During the Cannes film festival, students will apply the critical tools and knowledge of the film industry gained from their earlier work. They will be expected to view a certain number of international films during the festival, keep a journal, attend regular meetings, and submit both a final research essay and selected journal entries.

Your final paper should be a synthesis of what you learned at Cannes. It should be 12-pages in length, typed, and is due by June 30, 2015, along with a selection of 10 typed full entries from your journal (with accompanying images). We will discuss your final paper in more detail during the festival.

Before and during the festival, read Variety, the Hollywood Reporter, the New York Times and other news sources so that you have some idea of what is happening in the industry and which films will be screened. Also explore the Cannes Film Festival Homepage at


All participants in the program will stay at:

Collège International de Cannes

1 Rue du Docteur A. Pascal

06400 Cannes – FRANCE

This is the ONLY living arrangement available to participants.


The pre-departure paper is due by email Friday, May 1, 2015.

Please email it as a PDF to Prof. Decherney <> by 2pm on Friday, May 1, 2015. The paper will be graded, and comments will be emailed to you.

The paper should be about 5 pages long, double-spaced, and should adhere to the MLA format


For this paper, you will write about ONE film (chosen using the criteria below). You paper must answer two different questions: (a) What marks this film as the distinct work of its director? (b) What elements indicate that the film is a festival film? Discuss acting, camera work, lighting, editing, theme, tone, etc. Be sure to mention at least two additional films by the same director, although your analysis should focus on the film you have chosen. You may do some research and discuss the film’s marketing and reception, but the emphasis of the paper should be on close analysis of film form and style.

How to choose your film:

1. Write on any non-US film that is playing at the International House on Chestnut Street or one of the Ritz theaters.

2. Choose one from the following recent Cannes winners in the festival’s main competition categories:

Winter Sleep, Nuri Bilge Ceylan (Palme d’Or 2014)

The Wonders, Alice Rohrwacher (Grand Prix, 2014)

Goodbye to Language, Jean-Luc Godard (Jury Prize 2014)

Blue Is the Warmest Colour, Abdellatif Kechiche (Palme d’Or, 2013)

The Past, Asghar Farhadi (Best Actress, 2013)

Amour, Michael Haneke (Palme d’Or, 2012)

Post Tenebras Lux , Carlos Reygadas (Best Director, 2012)

The Hunt, Thomas Vinterberg (Best Actor, 2012)

Polisse, Maiwenn (Jury Prize, 2011)

The Kid With a Bike, Dardenne Brothers (Grand Prix, 2011)

Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, Apichatpong Weerasethakul (Palme d’Or, 2010)

Biutiful, Alejandro G. Inarritu (Best Actor, 2010)

The White Ribbon, Michael Haneke (Palme d’Or, 2009)

A Prophet, Jacques Audiard (Grand Prix, 2009)

The Class, Laurent Cantet (Palme d’Or, 2008)

Three Monkeys, Nuri Bilge Ceylan (Best Director, 2008)

4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days, Cristian Mungui (Palme d’Or, 2007)

Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi et al. (Jury Prize, 2007)

FINAL PAPER (50 points)

The final papers and journals are due Monday, June 30, 2015

Please email your essay and journal entries as PDFs to Prof. Decherney <> by midnight on June 30, 2015.

The paper should be about 12-pages long, double-spaced, and it should adhere to the MLA format <>.


Every year, several THEMES dominate Cannes. Write about one major theme that you observed at the festival. The theme should be as narrowly defined as possible. It may encompass the political engagement of films, a shared aesthetic strategy, a subject that seems to be on the minds of many filmmakers, the programming decisions of the festival organizers, or the “buzz” of critics and others attending the festival.

Your essay should contain:

–close analyses of two films screened at the festival

–analysis of relevant newspaper coverage from at least three different sources

–analysis of the organization of the festival, including the programing, awards, and marketplace (marché du film).

These are academic papers, not newspaper pieces. All papers must have a clear thesis/argument that is examined in detail. Keep your discussion focused. Everything must be relevant to your argument. Do not provide a profile of a director or lots of extraneous background material. You need to go well beyond superficial plot summaries or a series of observations into a thorough and thoughtful analysis of the films’ narrative and visual style. You may make evaluative judgments about what is successful and what might not work as well in the film. But you must also support those claims.

The primary criteria for grading the papers is the thoughtfulness of your responses to the festival. Are you able to go BEYOND DESCRIPTION to make connections and reflect on the cultural, political, commercial, bureaucratic functioning of the festival. It is often interesting to comment on what is left out of the festival in addition to what has been included.

Journal Entries (25 points total)

You will keep a daily journal during the festival. Entries should be a minimum of 250-words. They should discuss your festival experience, including analysis of films you have seen, reflections on the guest speakers you hear from, and general observations about the functioning and purpose of the festival. These should move beyond mere description and contain thoughtful reflections.

Every journal entry should also contain an image—either one that you have taken yourself or one that you “clip” online.

Along with your final paper, you need to submit a selection of 10 typed full daily entries from your journal. Choose entries which you think best represent your experience of both film viewing and the general atmosphere of the festival and which capture the diversity and richness of that experience. Some of these should include entries about our meetings with speakers from the industry, who will all present very different perspectives on the film and media today.