Directed by Ladj Ly and Stéphane de Freitas (France, 2016, 99 min.). Digital. French with English subtitles.
Every year, hundreds of students from all over the department of Seine-Saint-Denis face off in Eloquentia, a contest to crown the best orator in this diverse, sprawling suburb of Paris. Speak Up follows a group of college students preparing for Eloquentia through an intensive six weeks of workshops in classical rhetoric, acting, slam poetry, and breathing techniques, then takes us into the tournament itself. Directors Stéphane de Freitas and Ladj Ly create an inspiring portrait, by turns riotous and poignant, of a young generation of all creeds and cultures brought together by a shared commitment to the French art of rhetoric. Viewers will not soon forget Elhadj, formerly homeless; Leïla, a shy Syrian-French Muslim feminist; or Eddy, a fledgling actor who has to walk six miles every day to commute to class.
Co-presented with the Boston Women's Film Festival.