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Rosemont College features Matisse documentary

Rosemont College recently presented the film A Model for Matisse: the Story of the Vence Chapel.

The event, held April 8, was sponsored by the Alliance Francais, a French Teaching Association, whose goal is to spread French culture and language through education and cultural exchanges.

The film followed the story behind the building of the Vence Chapel. Sister Jacques was a key figure in its creation and recruited Matisse to help her with the project.

The two worked on the construction and decoration from December 1949 to June 1951. They faced opposition throughout the entire process, but Matisse was determined to bring the project to completion.

Matisse called the four years he spent working on the chapel “…the culmination of my career.”

Barbara Freed, the writer, director and producer of the film, shared some of her insights and experiences from making the film.

“It was an opportunity for Matisse to integrate everything he’d done,” Freed explained.

Freed, a professor of French studies and applied linguistics at Carnegie Mellon University, gave a short lecture following the viewing of the film and opened the floor to questions.

Freed’s interest in Matisse and prior encounter with Sister Jacques are what inspired her to make the film. In 2001, Freed translated a book written by Sister Jacques about the building of the Vence Chapel.

“[Sister Jacques] was very open to making the film after her book was finished,” Freed said.

Freed began her interviews and filming in January of 2002, and ended up with 15 hours of interviews on tape after spending several months talking to Sister Jacques.

After a year of editing, the film was completed. It was released in three versions: in French, in English and in a shortened version that aired on French television.

Unfortunately, A Model for Matisse is not available for sale due to expensive copyrights. Freed hopes to eventually make a video or DVD available to the American public, but she thinks it will be more likely released in France.

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