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10th year anniversary for the French Film Festival in Richmond

Richmond, Va. – Virginia Commonwealth University’s French Film Festival will present its 100th film at this year’s annual film festival, March 22 - 24 at the Byrd Theatre in Carytown. The Tenth Anniversary French Film Festival will also include 11 new feature films as well as 12 short films, or court-métrages, by France’s up-and-coming young directors. The film festival has grown to be the largest and most successful French Film Festival in the United States. Based on last year’s attendance, the festival directors are expecting close to 1,400 spectators at every screening.

The 11 films being shown, all with English subtitles, have recently been released in France and are North American premiere screenings. All the directors will be at the Byrd Theatre to introduce their films and answer questions from the audience after each film. Discussions will be in English, or in French with an interpreter. It is with honor that the festival welcomes directors Alexandre Arcady, Rachid Bouchareb, Yves Lavandier, Bruno Chiche, Christian Merret-Palmair, and Jean-Max Causse. Additionally the festival welcomes French producer Annie Miller and famed female cinematographer Dominique Le Rigoleur to present her dramatic documentary on the ballet of the Paris Opera.

This year’s films include films that address the family relationships and interpersonal conflicts in present-day France; a story of a man returning after 30 years to his home-country of Algeria; true stories of the French resistance and French filmmaking in occupied France during World War II; the racism between Africans and African-Americans in the United States; and the sexual needs of a person with muscular dystrophy; and of course French comedies.

One of the goals of the VCU French Film Festival is to expand the study of French language and culture, while strengthening French cinema’s presence in the United States by introducing notable new French films and signaling to American distributors that American audiences desire to see more French films.

The festival weekend in Richmond has also come to be recognized across the Mid-Atlantic states as a unique and valuable immersion weekend for French language students. University and high school student groups come from as far away as Philadelphia, Washington DC, and Virginia Beach; while individuals from Texas, Ohio, and New York have already purchased their festival passes.

This year’s 5 Oscar nominations for the enchanting film Amélie (Best Original Screenplay, Best Foreign Language Film, Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography and Best Sound) demonstrate the growing impact of the French film industry in the US. In 2001 in the US, a record number of 7 French films reached the $1 million mark, emphasizing the increasing popularity of French cinema.

Dr. Peter Kirkpatrick, founder and director of the VCU French Film Festival, is excited about the tenth year and its program. "The French Film industry has had a great year in the US. This success is not surprising. For nine years, we have had record attendance. For those who have just discovered French film due to blockbusters like Amélie and The Brotherhood of the Wolf, they are in for quite an experience meeting and talking with the 27 actors and directors in our French delegation."

During the festival, on the evening of Saturday March 23rd, an official reception with the Directors and actors will be held at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. A gala dinner for VIP Pass Plus holders will follow the reception. To attend all film screenings and the discussions with the directors/actors at the Byrd Theatre, 2908 W. Cary Street as well as the official reception at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, participants can purchase a VIP Friends of the Festival pass for $40; $25 for students. A VIP Friends of the Festival Plus Pass, available for $85, also provides admission to the gala dinner to be held at the Downtown Club of Richmond. Tickets for individual screenings are $5 at the door. Visit the festival web site at http://www.frenchfilm.vcu.edu. For more information about the films or show times, call the VCU French Film Festival Hotline at (804) 278-0210. For ticket information, call (804) 827-FILM.

The French Film Festival is sponsored by VCU's Division of University Outreach, the College of Humanities and Sciences, the Department of Foreign Languages, SACD (French Screenwriting Guild), L’ARP (French Director’s and Producer’s Guild), Unifrance, and the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in Washington D.C. The media sponsor of the festival is your Community Idea Stations, WCVE Richmond PBS and WHTJ Charlottesville PBS and 88.9 WCVE Richmond NPR. The local sponsors of the festival include Ellwood Thompson’s Natural Market, and the law firm of McCandlish Holton, PC, University of Richmond and VCU Health System.

About VCU and VCU Medical Center

Virginia Commonwealth University is a major, urban public research university with national and international rankings in sponsored research. Located in downtown Richmond, VCU enrolls more than 31,000 students in 226 degree and certificate programs in the arts, sciences and humanities. Sixty-seven of the programs are unique in Virginia, many of them crossing the disciplines of VCU’s 13 schools and one college. MCV Hospitals and the health sciences schools of Virginia Commonwealth University comprise VCU Medical Center, one of the nation’s leading academic medical centers. For more, see www.vcu.edu.