2010 French Film Festival

Richmond and VCU joint effort draws 21,000 to the Byrd Theater

June 8, 2010

The 18th annual French Film Festival drew 41 well-established French actors, directors, producers and technicians to Richmond over the course of four days, from Mar. 25 to 28, 2010. More than 21,000 admissions were sold to view the festival’s 12 short and 12 feature-length films.

The French Film Festival is the result of a cooperative effort between the University of Richmond and Virginia Commonwealth University. Planning the program is a year-round project and is coordinated by husband and wife duo Dr. Peter Kirkpatrick and Dr. Françoise Ravaux-Kirkpatrick, professors of French at VCU and Richmond respectively.

University of Richmond provost Steve Allred welcomed French general consul Michel Schaffauser during the official reception held at the university’s Jepson Alumni Center on Saturday, Mar. 27.

“We were pleased to see, this year again, how courteous and receptive the delegation has been to our audience and, more specifically, to our students who have been able to engage in substantive conversations related to subjects and current situations in France—depicted and developed in the films—cinematographic techniques, or simply more personal concerns,” Ravaux-Kirkpatrick said.

The French delegation included actress Josiane Balasko, and directors Gérard Krawczyk, Pierre-William Glenn, Annie Miller, Yves Hanchar, Gérard Bitton, Michel Munz, Julie Lopes-Curval, Hannelor Cayre, Stijin Coninx, Marc Barrat and Christian Zerbib.

The festival’s 24 films were selected to represent the quality of film produced not only in France, but also in other French-speaking countries in 2009.

“Last year French cinematographic production was heavy with films concentrating on immigration,” Ravaux-Kirkpatrick said. “We chose only two long features on the subject, although many more excellent movies on the subject could have been added. One of our goals is to offer our audience an overview of the diversity of French contemporary cinema, and we have to be selective.”

The film screenings were preceded by a master class on three-dimensional cinema, which was conducted by specialists from the Commission Supérieure Technique de l’Image et du Son, the production company Digimage and the Paris cinema school Le Femis.  

 A 3-D film, “Le train où ça va…”, directed by Le Femis student Jeanne Guillot, was screened during the second portion of the master class. A round-table discussion followed with Guillot and four University of Richmond students that translated her 72-page thesis into English.

Guillet contended that 3-D cinema should not remain confined to the adventure or science fiction genres, but should be used to explore more realistic subjects and mundane environments.

Fifteen Richmond students enrolled in the course, Culture in the Making: The Creation and Organization of a French Film Festival. Participants screened the entire film program, contributed writing, assisted in French translation, coordinated advertising efforts across the state and in the Washington area, and assisted in venue preparation.

“All the students participated actively,” Raveaux said. “A similar class was held at VCU and seven French students came from different schools of business, communications, or political sciences in France. They all contributed to the materialization and the success of the event.”

Ravaux-Kirkpatrick hopes to expand student participation further by hosting more on-campus events during next year’s festival. This would provide film students the opportunity to examine industry trends with accomplished professionals.

“We have noticed a number of films and documentaries that will be released this year focus on ecology and bio-diversity,” she said. “This brings so many crucial subjects to the forefront—the sciences, communication, international political economies, and cultures.”

To view photographs and videos from this year’s festival, or find out the latest news about next year’s event, visit www.frenchfilm.vcu.edu.