'Our Father, the Devil' Reaches Final Stage of Biennale di Venezia's College Cinema Initiative

BY Felix van Kann, January 11, 2020

Our Father, the Devil (Mon Père, Le Diable) (previously titled He That Shall Not Be Named), directed by alumna Ellie Foumbi '17, was selected as one of the four projects to go through to the final stage of the Biennale di Venezia's College Cinema initiative. 


Foumbi’s film follows an antisocial African refugee whose tranquil existence in a sleepy mountain village in the south of France is overturned when she suspects the new parish priest is none other than the warlord who slaughtered her family.


Regarding her selection, Foumbi said, “Obviously, I'm very excited about getting this funding from Venice. It was a total surprise to be honest. I had been trying to get another much bigger film off the ground called Zenith and decided to take a break from it and write something smaller. The new English title (Our Father, the Devil) is different from what was first reported in Venice's press release. I actually developed the first iteration of this story in a feature revision class with Jessie Keyt at the beginning of my thesis year back in 2015. Although this new version is a page-one rewrite, it deals with the same themes and characters but in a completely different way. I reworked the story before sending it to Venice. It's a psychological thriller set in a small mountain town in the south of France that taps into some of the themes that are in almost all my other screenplays, namely, otherness and immigration of some sort.”


Now in its 8th edition, the Biennale College Cinema initiative, which is organized by the Biennale di Venezia, sets out to promote new talent in film and to help emerging directors make micro-budget feature films. According to the Biennale College Cinema’s website, the four projects will participate in two workshops that “will lead to the possibility of actually making the four micro-budget films, funded with a grant of 150,000 Euro each, to be presented at the 77th Venice International Film Festival 2020.” Over the past years, the Biennale College Cinema initiative has helped to make 22 feature films off the back of 1,640 applications from all around the world. 

Ellie Foumbi is an actor, writer, director and producer born in Cameroon. She holds an MFA in Directing from Columbia University's School of the Arts. She’s a 44th Student Academy Awards Semifinalist and an African Movie Academy Awards Nominee in the Best Short Film category. Her films have been selected to screen at several international film festivals, including Santa Barbara International Film Festival, Ashland, Nantucket Film Festival, NY African Film Festival and Champs-Élysées Film Festival. She’s the recipient of the Jesse Thompkins III Award in Screenwriting and the IFP Marcie Bloom Fellowship. She is also a Film Independent Screenwriting Lab Fellow, where she workshopped her feature, Zenith, which was an Austin Screenplay Competition Semifinalist. She’s a participant of Reykjavik International Film Festival’s Talent Lab. She made her TV directorial debut on BET’s hip-hop anthology, Tales and is a member of the Directors Guild of America.