A star-studded delegation arrives in Richmond for the 27th French Film Festival on March 28-31. The festival is co-sponsored by the University of Richmond and Virginia Commonwealth University.

Each year the festival showcases France’s newest feature and short films. More than 20,000 filmgoers from around the U.S. will arrive in Carytown this year to interact with French actors, directors, authors, screenwriters, and cinematographers including one of France’s most popular actors Thierry Lhermitte.

Co-founders Françoise Ravaux-Kirkpatrick and Peter Kirkpatrick spent months watching over 160 feature films to determine this year’s selection. Films investigating ideas of social justice, reconciliation, restorative justice, the refugee crisis, and global warming are just some of the themes slated during this year’s festival.

“Films convey different ways to alert us about issues confronting our time while developing critical perspectives and the visual literacy so needed by our societies bombarded by news platforms,” said Françoise Ravaux-Kirkpatrick, UR professor of French and film studies and a voting member of France’s Academy of Cinema Arts and Techniques (the organization that determines France’s César awards, the equivalent of America’s Oscars).

One film noted by Ravaux-Kirkpatrick as particularly powerful is the documentary, “The State Against Mandela and the Others.” The film features audio recordings of the actual trials of Nelson Mandela and eight other accused freedom fighters facing the death penalty during South Africa’s Apartheid. These recovered audio archives of the hearings intertwined with interviews of the survivors and moving animations place viewers within the intense power struggle during these decisive courtroom battles. 

“We want to get citizens to think and reflect on the problems societies have faced and are still facing and to see and hear how French filmmakers are using film as a medium to assist us all as we work through these issues,” Ravaux-Kirkpatrick said.

Most showings taking place at the historic Byrd Theatre in Carytown will be the only chance to view these films in the United States. Films are presented by their directors and/or star actors with a Q&A session following each screening. All films have English subtitles and discussions are in English or in French with an interpreter.

The festival will also hold eight free master classes open to the public. Classes are designed to provide participants with insights into the craft of filmmaking and will be held at the Institute for Contemporary Art (ICA). Registration is required. Interpretation headsets will be provided so that all in attendance, regardless of their fluency in French or English, can participate.

“The term festival means festivity, celebration and exchange,” said co-founder Peter Kirkpatrick. “Cinema on the big screen creates an atmosphere where people are collectively challenged by what they see. A true festival embodies time shared, interaction, between viewers and between filmmakers and their audience. That is exactly what the French Film Festival provides here in Richmond and in the Byrd Theatre.” 

For a complete festival schedule and ticketing information, visit http://frenchfilmfestival.us/

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At-a-Glance

What: 27th annual French Film Festival

When: Thursday, March 28 - Sunday, March 31

Where: The Byrd Theatre

Details: A University of Richmond and Virginia Commonwealth University collaboration, the annual French Film Festival showcases a curated selection of France's newest feature and short films. Films are presented by their directors and/or starring actors with a Q&A session following each screening.

Professor of French and Film Studies, Co-Director, Annual UR/VCU French Film Festival
Contemporary French literature and culture
Semiotics
French film