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L'Été en Suspens (A Summer Paused) on Vimeo

With the generous support of the French Embassy, the College of Staten Island offered scholarships to eight City University of New York students allowing them study abroad. Travelling with their professor in July 2016, the students (six from the College of Staten Island and two from the Graduate Center) became filmmakers in the city of Tours. 

As a group, they brought with them a wide range of interests in the arts—filmmaking, photography, theater, animation, and writing. With these talents, the students created a short film, L’ÉTÉ EN SUSPENS (A SUMMER PAUSED). The film chronicles the month spent overseas; importantly, the film reveals the social-political themes that pervaded the group's thoughts, discussions, and their creative art. The result is a cinema-verité documentary that explores the impact of world events on the psyche of the American filmmakers as well as the French locals they meet. L’ÉTÉ EN SUSPENS shows that study abroad is as much an academic endeavor as it is an experience in transforming a student’s perspective on the world and their place in it.

For many students, the trip to France was their first adventure outside the United States. Although the recent terrorist attacks in France gave several of them pause before ultimately deciding to travel, the students recognized that the world is as complicated as their perceptions of risk. As expressed in the film, they refused to let fear prevent them from exploring their creative and intellectual interests. By traveling outside the “safety net” of their home country, students recognized that untapped ideas and concepts would emerge, giving their art unexpected and dynamic contours.

Indeed, before departing for France, students remained conscious of the climate of the Unite States (marked by several violent gun incidents that continued after arrival in France) as well as the climate of France. And as the course unfolded during July, students witnessed the way French citizens responded to the effects of the “Brexit” vote, the excitement of France’s hosting and significant wins in the EuroCup 2016, and the joy and tragedy that marked Bastille Day, 14 July 2016. The quick and intimate friendships made between the French and Americans were further cemented following the attack in Nice. If travel abroad opens us to new ways of thinking and engaging with new cultures and peoples, it sets the stage for how we think about our own national identity. With the Bastille-Day attack, and the impact it had on their host country and the friends they made, the students’ view of themselves as “American” expanded. Their understanding of the world as a global society deepened.  And their appreciation of French culture, in particular, enriched.

L’ÉTÉ EN SUSPENS premiered November 17th, 2016 at the College of Staten Island, as part of the Tournées Film Festival.

L'été en Suspens - Students of the City University of New York