Do you wonder how we Americans came to have such differing and deeply entrenched thoughts about politics?
“Chez Nous/This is Our Land,” gives an opportunity to look at the political divide in another country. The film has played at film festivals, but does not open in theaters in the U.S. until April. You can see it, however, at the Jarvis Conservatory in Napa on Saturday, March 10 where it will be shown at 4 and 7 p.m.
“Chez Nous” is a ficitionalized account of a French national election. We watch a previously apolitical woman recruited to run for local office under the auspices of a far right party. Because the story is told in the context of her budding relationship with an old flame, whose party affiliations clash, it is a very personal look at the issues and methods that persuade all of us.
Pauline, played by Émilie Dequenne, doesn’t even vote. But her father was an avowed communist and the kindly doctor who encourages her in her nursing career, played by André Dussillier, runs the local far-right nationalist party. This traveling nurse shows great compassion for her elderly and immigrant charges, but still supports the anti-immigration party. She is opposed to violence, but gets caught up in a series of events that reveal how she is being used by the party. The film demonstrates how bright and caring people can prove naive in the face of strong personalities and push-button issues like immigration.
“Chez Nous” caused a furor in France when it opened a couple of months before the 2017 spring elections. It was accused of attempting to influence the election and to depict the actual National Front party. This was, in part, due to the likeness of the far-right leader in the film (actress Catherine Jacob) to Marine Le Pen and the similarity between the fictional party and the National Front. Those opposed went so far as to submit negative reviews to discourage people from seeing the film.
We know how the real election turned out, but this screening will be fodder for a conversation about politics everywhere and how we can best understand our own involvement.
For those interested in better understanding the different points of view in the film, as well as our own divides, Arthur Pena of St. Helena will lead a short discussion after the 4 p.m. screening. A teacher of Spanish and English as a Second Language for over 25 years, Arthur Peña has also organized and facilitated public discussion forums on controversial political issues and has received extensive training in various forms of conflict resolution, specializing in dialogue between liberals and conservatives.
The film will be shown under the partnership of Alliance Française de Napa and the Jarvis Conservatory at 1711 Main St., Napa. Wine and snacks will be sold in between the two screenings by the Alliance. Tickets are $10 and may be purchased in advance through www.jarvisconservatory.com.