UPDATE: For details of the Oxford Spanish Department’s new ‘Flash Fiction’ competition, see below, after the French Film Competition.
The Department of French at Oxford University is looking for budding film enthusiasts in Years 7-11 and 12-13 to embrace the world of French cinema. To enter the competition, students in each age group are asked to re-write the ending of a film in no more than 1500 words.
You can work in English or French. No additional credit will be given for writing in French, but incorrect French grammatical expression will not be penalised: this is an exercise in creativity, rather than language!
The judges are looking for plausible yet imaginative new endings. There are no restrictions as to the form the entry might take: screen-play, play-script, prose, prose with illustrations. We’d also love to see filmed YouTube entries: feel free to experiment!
For 2017 we are inviting you to choose one film, either classic or contemporary, as per your age bracket:
Jean de Florette (1986, dir. Claude Berri) [PG]
MicMacs à tire-larigot (2009, dir. Jean-Pierre Jeunet) [12A]
Paris nous appartient (1961, dir. Jacques Rivette) 
Microbe et Gasoil (2015, dir. Michel Gondry) 
To help you choose, here are the trailers.
For Jean de Florette:
For Microbe et Gasoil:
And, instead of a trailer, a scene from Paris nous appartient:
A first prize of £100 will be awarded to the winning student in each age group, with runner-up prizes of £25.
For further details about entering the competition (including the points in each film where we’d like you to take up the story), see the FAQs below. Each essay should be accompanied by a cover sheet.
Essays and cover sheets should be submitted by email to firstname.lastname@example.org by noon on 31st March 2017.
And now, a message from the Oxford Spanish department:
Spanish Flash Fiction Competition: NEW!!
Did you know that the shortest story in Spanish is only seven words long? Here it is: ‘Cuando despertó, el dinosaurio todavía estaba allí’ (Augusto Monterroso, “El dinosaurio”).
Write a story in Spanish of not more than 100 words, and send it to email@example.com by noon on Friday 31st March 2017 with your name, age and year group, and the name and address of your school.
A first prize of £100 will be awarded to the winning entry in each category (Years 7-11 and 12-13), with runner-up prizes of £25. The judges will be looking for creativity and imagination as well as good Spanish! The winning entries will be published on our website.
- What counts as ‘the ending’ of the film?
We’d like you to start your re-writing from the following points:
Paris nous appartient: from 1:52:55, when Philip asks Terry, ‘Pourquoi lui as-tu dit de venir?’
Jean de Florette: from 1:38:34, where Ugolin confronts Jean and says: ‘Monsieur Jean, il faut que je vous parle franchement…’
Micmacs from 1:16:44, when the message is relayed: ‘On lance!’, ‘On lance!,’ ‘On lance!’
Microbe et Gasoil from 1:29:23, when Microbe says ‘C’est possible de changer l’aller-retour contre deux allers, s’il vous plaît?’
- Does ‘re-writing’ mean I have to change everything?
There is nothing stopping you from watching the ‘real’ ending and then modifying it as you see fit. Indeed, you might find this helpful. Please note, though, that we’re looking for creative, entertaining and inventive new endings, which address as fully and plausibly as possible the strands of the story that are left unresolved at the end-points we’ve specified above.
- What form should the essay take?
There is no particular expectation as to how you submit your entry — you might like, for example, to submit it in screenplay format (with descriptions of camera angle, voice-over, lighting etc.), or as a play (with speech-prefixes and dialogue) or in prose, as in a novel. You might even like to submit your ‘new’ ending via YouTube or other social media! If so, email us the link with your attached coversheet. The form should be the one you feel shows your creativity in the best light.
- Where can I or my school/college get hold of the films?
- Is there a limit to the amount of entries any one school can make?
Yes. There is a limit of 15 entries per school per age group.
- Should I enter as an individual or can I enter as part of a group?
We would ask you to keep to individually-named submissions, please: this is just to ensure as much as possible parity and fairness between entries, and to avoid any distinction between smaller and larger groups.