Film Review: ‘Catch the Wind’ (‘Pendre le large’) NY Premiere: Challenges the Pliability of the Human Spirit

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Photo: TS Productions, Actress Sandrine Bonnaire

The French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF) hosted the Focus on French Cinema Festival’s 14th annual closing night screening of: Catch the Wind (Pendre le large)’s New York premiere – and what a gem! The film starring acclaimed French actress, Sandrine Bonnaire (Vagabond, Á nos amours) and director Gaël Morel’s muse for writing the screenplay, captivated audiences with a delicate balance of grit and vulnerability. The international film festival showcases the best of contemporary French-language films from around the world – particularly France, Switzerland, Canada, Belgium, Lebanon, and French-speaking African countries. The festival commenced on April 27th in partnership with Alliance Française of Greenwich, continued in Stamford, Connecticut, and wrapped with its highly lauded final film in New York City.

Actress Sandrine Bonnaire portrays Edith, a middle-aged seamstress who is laid off, and is faced with the tough decisions to accept severance or relocate with the company to Morocco; she chooses the latter – to her and her coworkers’ surprise. Leaving behind a son (Ilian Bergala) with whom Edith has a strenuous relationship gives us insight into her motivation to abandon everything and everyone in her native France. Her journey to a new place is met with obstacles, bittersweet realizations, and unexpected new friendships. Bonnaire’s expressive nature in conveying a wide range of emotions, gives her character a depth – sans dialogue, which frankly isn’t necessary, yet audiences will sympathize and identify with. Shot beautifully in Tangiers, Morocco with scenes of the Mediterranean Sea littered with picturesque geometric buildings and intricate mosaic designs – the background is a welcomed and nicely added character to advance the narrative. We don’t see touristic Morocco; instead we witness an industrial interpretation of real-life deplorable working conditions of factory life, Edith endures.

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Photo: TS Productions, Actress Sandrine Bonnaire

Catch the Wind (Pendre le large) explores themes of life-changing events and the resilience of the human spirit to counter life’s wonderful and awful experiences – with earnest. After the screening the audience was treated to a Q&A with writer-director, Gaël Morel. Morel’s homage to the working class in the film is attributed to his father’s time as a factory worker – where he worked for 30 years. Morel used his father’s factory as a backdrop for the opening scenes. Catch the wind (Pendre le large) was co-written by Morel’s Moroccan colleague with the intention to – gain perspective and depict – Moroccan women as warriors and resistors.

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Photo: Mercedes Vizcaino, Writer-Director, Gaël Morel – Center

To learn about more about The French Institute Alliance Française’s (FIAF) upcoming events on French culture, the arts, and programs in education, click here: For more information about Focus on French Cinema’s programs, click here:

Credits, Cast: Sandrine Bonnaire, Mouna Fettou, Kamal El Amri, Ilian Bergala, Farida Ouchani, Lubna Azabal; Director: Gael Morel; Screenwriters: Gael Morel, Rachid O., Yasmine Louati; Producers: Anthony Doncque, Milena Poylo, Gilles Sacuto; Director of photography: David Chambille.

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Review: ‘Sancho: An Act of Remembrance’ Emotional, Provocative and Timely

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Photo: Robert Day

If Paterson Joseph’s name doesn’t automatically invoke the phrase “thespian of our time”, then the acknowledgement is long overdue. Joseph’s career trajectory spans over two decades with a vast array of Shakespearean and other notable stage performances, film and television series (The Beach, Aeon Flux, NBC’s “Timeless,” and “Doctor Who,”). The talented and versatile British actor brings to life Sancho: An Act of Remembrance to the National Black Theatre in Harlem with an undeniable vibrancy and a steadfast energy. Written, conceived and performed as a one-man show, Joseph commands the audiences’ attention as soon a he steps on stage.

Paterson Joseph begins with a brief intro to his entertainment background and seamlessly segues into the character he’s portraying: Charles Ignatius Sancho. Sancho, an African man born on a slave ship – who was able to rise from poverty and servitude in 18th century England and become an educated social satirist, composer, abolitionist and ultimately a man of refinement evidenced by his portrait – painted and immortalized – by renowned artist, Thomas Gainsborough. I can’t recall mention of this prominent activist in school and welcomed the education lesson of this character’s vital role in becoming the first British-African to cast a vote in England in 1774; quite a feat for a man of color in this era in history. Joseph does a phenomenal job in reenacting Sancho’s birth, early childhood, and life-changing influences that led to his financial independence as a businessman within the oppressive environment bestowed upon him. Joseph transitions between the narrative with comedic and emotionally charged dialogue with ease. And as a theater patron, you can’t help but glance around the intimate setting, and notice other patrons are captivated by Paterson Joseph’s storytelling ability.

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Engraving by: Francesco Bartolozzi

The theme of oppression and strength of conviction to affect change is so timely in our current political system. This play is more than homage to a man who paved the way for British Africans, rose above unimaginable adversity and triumphed in light of the circumstances surrounding him; it’s a testament to the spirit of man and the belief that change and acceptance of marginalized groups is possible. Sancho: An Act of Remembrance will be playing at the Black National Theatre through May 6th. For more information on the performance and to get tickets, click here:

Conceived, written and performed by: Paterson Joseph; Co-Director: Simon Godwin; Music and Sound Design: Ben Park; Designer: Michael Vale; Lighting Designer: Lucrecia Briceno; Costume Designer: Linda Haysman.