Discovering French Cinema in Paris

This Summer 2014 course is now closed. Please join our mailing list to find out more about our Summer 2015 course offerings.
Nouvelle Vague
In partnership with the Columbia Global Centers l Europe in Paris
Course number: S4200
3 Points, with Non-Credit Option
Monday, July 21 - Friday, August 8, 2014
Instructor: Richard Peña
Although a number of people had been able to create moving images earlier, film historians give pride of place to December 28, 1895 as the birthdate of cinema—the date marking the unveiling of the Lumiere brother’s cinematographe at the Salon Indien of the Grand Café in Paris. From that moment on, Paris—and the French cinema—have truly been at the heart of the history and development of the seventh art.

This course will present a series of cinematic milestones that together will offer a history of both the artistic ambitions and the commercial realities of the French cinema, moving from the earliest days of silent cinema (Méliès, Feuillade) to the most recent releases (Assayas, Denis). We will cover wartime film production, as well as the rise of recent genres such as the beur film (works set in the suburban housing projects that ring Paris, focuing on young immigrants).  A special concentration will be on the French New Wave (1958-1967), the movement which perhaps more than any other truly took the city of Paris as its muse.  
In addition to class lectures and screenings, there will be guest appearances by filmmakers, critics, historians and officials in the French film industry who will offer their own unique perspectives on the past, present and future of French cinema.  We will also make several trips to the famous Cinematheque Française, one of the world's largest film archives situated in an iconic Frank Gehry building in Paris' 12th arrondissement. 
French Cinema PosterDaily Schedule 

The course kicks off with a celebratory dinner in the main salon of Columbia's storied Reid Hall in Montparnasse, your home for the next three weeks.  All classes will be at Reid Hall and will meet four times a week for three weeks, Mondays through Thursdays, from July 21 to August 8, 2014.  Classes are 4 hours each (with breaks).  Monday to Wednesday, classes include lectures and film screenings. Thursdays feature meetings with notable figures from the French industry.  In addition to class time, students will be invited to attend additional excursions, for example to the Cinematheque Française or to a special preview of a new film.  Celebratory dinners with special guests at the beginning and end of our course.
Students write four 2-3 page essays on four (of the 12) films to be screened for the course. There will be a final “take home” exam, based on questions arising from the course.

Columbia Global Centers | Europe in Paris

The program takes place at the Columbia Global Centers l Europe, in historic Reid Hall. Launched in March 2010, the Center is currently directed by Paul LeClerc, former President of the New York Public Library.  Located in the heart of the Montparnasse district of Paris, the buildings surround a beautiful private interior courtyard and garden measuring 9,000 square feet. The facilities also include a small reference library, classrooms, two large conference rooms, and administrative offices. The Center, which has full WIFI coverage, is open Monday - Saturday from 8 AM - 10 PM.

Students stay in dorm-style accommodations in close proximity to Reid Hall, in Paris' Montparnasse neighborhood (14th or 15th arrondissements).  The Housing fee for course is $990 for single, en suite accommodations.  A limited number of double room accommodations are available at 50% of the single price.
Tuition and Fees

The 3-point tuition rate for this course is $4,536. For more detailed information, please see "tuition and fees":
A limited number of non-credit spaces will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. The non-credit tuition rate is $3,390.  
In addition to Columbia tuition, a Program Fee of $1,500 will be assessed to cover housing costs and costs related to film screenings, program-related excursions, local transportation, and various other land-based costs.
Students are responsible for international airfare, most meals, and other costs related to your stay in Paris. Round-trip airfare from New York City to Paris is estimated at $1,400. While spending on meals and other items during your stay in Paris will vary considerably depending on your budget and choices, students can expect to spend approximately $40/day on meals throughout the month of the program. The dorm provides a communal kitchen with basic appliances and personal food storage, and there are nearby food markets for groceries.
To register for this course, or find out more information, please send an email to, with the title "DISCOVERING FRENCH CINEMA IN PARIS" in all caps, with your contact information, and any questions you may have. We will send you further details about the course by return. Students will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis for this popular course, so please apply early.

About the Instructor

Richard Peña has been at Columbia since 1989, becoming full time in 1996 and being named Professor of Professional Practice in 2003; from 2006-2009 was a Visiting Professor in Spanish at Princeton University. Mr. Peña has also served as the Program Director of the Film Society of Lincoln Center and the Director of the New York Film Festival since 1988. At the Film Society, he has organized retrospectives of Michelangelo Antonioni, Sacha Guitry, Abbas Kiarostami, Robert Aldrich, Gabriel Figueroa, Ritwik Ghatak, Kira Muratova, Youssef Chahine, Yasujiro Ozu, Carlos Saura and Amitabh Bachchan, as well as major film series devoted to African, Chinese, Cuban, Polish, Hungarian, Arab, Korean, Japanese Soviet and Argentine cinema. He is also currently the co-host of Channel 13’s weekly Reel 13.
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Columbia University School of the Arts offers MFA degrees in Film, Theatre, Visual Arts, and Writing, an MA degree in Film Studies, a joint JD/MFA degree in Theatre Management & Producing, a PhD degree in Theatre History, Literature, and Theory, and an interdisciplinary program in Sound Arts.