After having heard about this prestigious competition from my French teacher, Irena Hubble-Brezowski, and discovering that my favourite French film would be the object of my entry I immediately started writing.
The competition specified that I had to re-write the last 43 minutes of Bande de Filles as creatively and imaginatively as possible; it was hard to separate the real ending of the motion picture to the one I was gradually forming in my head, as both had the same characters and setting, so I eliminated the obstacles: I created new characters and placed them in a new setting!
With a brief word count of 1,500 words, introducing and understanding these new characters would always have been a difficult task to undertake, hence why I decided to complete my entry within the format of a letter. This letter was addressed to a new character (the protagonist’s unborn daughter) and written by the protagonist. Within, Marieme wrote why she could not take care of her and watch her grow up despite desperately wishing she could. She spoke of the harshness of the world and of their society, warning her daughter to not follow in her mother’s footsteps.
I really enjoyed writing this letter and exploring French cinema from an entirely new perspective; I have learnt more about Parisian society from this than I ever could have using other mediums, which also shows the importance of film in the modern day.
Weeks after having emailed my entry to Oxford University, I received an exciting response from Dr Kathryn Rees of Queen’s College,
“I am very happy to tell you that you have been awarded a special commendation for your entry for the Oxford French Film Competition. We very much enjoyed reading your entry and were particularly impressed by the vivid energy of your expression and your creative imagination.”
I was delighted to know that my work had been read by French lecturers of Oxford University and completely thrilled to discover that they enjoyed it and thought it impressive.
The most important lesson I have learnt from this experience, however, is that a global awareness and active interest in other cultures is an amazing thing. I could not encourage enough people to watch foreign films, read translated texts or learn a new language because, you never know, it could get you recognised.