Film Festival – An Independent Study

November 15, 2019

Independent Study Project by Sophie Laurence ’20,

TRIBUNE FÉMININE: Jeanne Laurence, Feminism, and the French Resistance (1944 – 1948)

Having completed French 6, Sophie Laurence ’20 needed a project for her independent study last year. She grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts, but had visited family in France every year since she was four.

Sophie Laurence in Sanborn Family Library, where her Independent Study translations are housed.

“My grandfather and grandmother would tell me about the dignity and the great family legacy,” she says, “and how I should be proud to be a Laurence, and all that.”

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Already fluent in English, French, and Korean, Sophie likes to seek other ways to communicate and express herself. “I also communicate in computer science, in art, in poetry,” she says. “They’re all just different means of communication. Another even more visual way of communication is film, which is a really easy way to get people to learn a lot in a very short amount of time.”

Sophie Laurence in the art cottage
Sophie finds many different ways to create and communicate

So instead of writing an essay “that people definitely wouldn’t read,” she decided to create a documentary about her great-grandmother’s work in the French Resistance, translating more than 100 articles Jeanne Laurence wrote in the 1940s for her column, Tribune Féminine.

A schoolteacher in Vernon, France, Laurence voiced concerns of everyday women during the Occupation and shared her views on the war, women’s rights, and feminism in France.

The 10-minute film is entirely in French with English subtitles and has garnered numerous awards: a 2019 official selection at the All American High school Film Festival in New York, and a finalist in the Flickers’ Rhode Island International Film Festival and the Duemila30 High School Film Festival in Milan, Italy.

The Newspaper at the center of Sophie's Independent Study
The Masthead of the French paper Sophie’s grandmother wrote for during World War II

For the final part of the project, Sophie wrote a research essay to contextualize Tribune Féminine in the tumult of World War II and French feminism.

For more information on the Tribune Féminine project and to watch the film, please visit Sophie Laurence’s homepage.

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