The 25th Annual Richmond French Film Festival, co-sponsored by VCU and UR, is upon us and promises to be the best yet! Not only is the festival occurring over a full week at both the Byrd Theatre and the University of Richmond but there are also special events scattered throughout, such as a live concert by Henry Padovani, one of the founding members of The Police (following a documentary about him) and a special poetry recitation by one of France’s preeminent actors, Philippe Torreton, which closes the festival.
|Padovani pictured center|
Other special guests include composer Bruno Coulais and director-producer-actor Jacques Perrin. They will be presenting symposium lectures as well as introducing and moderating q-and-a sessions for both films they have worked on together and separately. One of these, the Coulais-scored Coraline, was a popular American release in 2010.
Winged Migration, a joint hit for both, was widely shown in the United States (I saw it at the much-missed Westhampton Theatre) but on Friday afternoon it will be shown in its original French release, Le Peuple Migrateur. As the Festival poster proudly proclaims, 700 films have been screened and 850 members of the French film industry have come to share their experiences with us since the first festival in 1993. This year’s program includes 8 features, 6 documentaries (3 by Perrin) and 11 short films, plus the first North American showing of the Magic Lantern show from the Cinematheque Francaise.
There are several past Festival selections currently available in our DVD collection, including last year’s The Clearstream Affair. My favorite drama of all those I have seen is Claude Miller’s (the Honorary Godfather of the Festival who passed away in 2012)Un Secret/A Secret (2008) and my favorite comedy is Le Prenom/What’s in a Name?(2013). Other notable selections include the children’s film Belle and Sebastian, Gemma Bovery, The Hedgehog (adapted from the Muriel Barbery novel The Elegance of the Hedgehog), Pour une Femme(For a Woman), Renoir, Le nom des gens (The Names of Love), Hors la loi(Outside the Law) and the extraordinary documentary Oceans, yet another outstanding cinematic work by Jacques Perrin!