2016 French Film Competition - Results
2016 marks the fifth year of Oxford University’s French film competition, in which school pupils are invited to watch a selected French film, and write an essay or script re-imagining the ending. As last year, the competition was open to students across secondary school year groups, with a large number of entrants from pupils in years 7 and 8. We received almost 200 entries, from over 50 schools.
The judges were deeply impressed by the range and richness of responses to the two set films, both directed by Céline Sciamma: Tomboy (years 7-11) and Bande de filles (years 12-13). The winner in the younger age category was Sophie Benbelaid, who came up with a startling and creative interpretation as to the young Laure’s decision to act as a boy. Read Sophie’s entry here. Runners-up in this category were Nano Quirke-Bakradze and Nikolas Thatte. Kate Lopez Woodward and Bridgette Dancel were highly commended; six more students received commendations (Roxy Francombe, Jamie Sims, Rose Tingey, Rachel Dick, Megan Bradley, Neave Reilly).
When judging the older age category, we were so taken with the overall standard of the entries that we decided to offer prizes to joint winners. Read Gurdip Ahluwalia’s imaginative French-language script here. George Jeffreys wrote and directed a filmed ending to Bande de filles (George’s script and video), reflecting the tensions and energy of Sciamma’s own cinematography. In this category, Francesca Duke received the runner-up prize, Amy Jorgensen and Jack Butler received high commendations; four more pupils received commendations (Elena Albot, Clare Borradaile, Lucy Morgan and Isabelle Smith).
Rewritings of the end of Tomboy offered a rich tonal and emotional range, from the gentle and tender to the sudden and shocking. Laure was often seen as disturbed by uncertainty of her expression of her gender, running away and contemplating suicide; her mother too was often seen as angry and confused, and the mother’s pregnancy was seen to end traumatically in a number of entries. Other entries attempted to envisage a future for Laure in which she opted for gender realignment surgery. The strongest entries were those which captured something of the quiet intimacy of family life seen in Sciamma’s film, along with the childlike vision of the young Laure; various entries explored the relationship between the sisters in attentive and authentic ways.
In the older age category, there were some exceptional re-imaginings of the ending of Bande de filles. Many were written in French, and a number, too, opted to present their entries as a film script, imagining appropriate visual close-ups and musical insertions. Marieme/Vic was variously imagined accepting Abou’s offer, selling drugs, and sometimes being tempted into other criminal acts such as bank robbery; others opted for a more positive ending which saw her returning to study or coaching girls’ sports teams. As was the case with Tomboy, those entries which focused attention on the family relationships or on the interaction between the girls in the ‘bande’ tended to be particularly successful, introducing moments of tension, intimacy and credible dialogue.
The Medieval & Modern Languages Faculty congratulates all participants and expresses its gratitude to their teachers for supporting their entries. Particular thanks are offered to Routes into Languages for their generous support of the competition.