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VCU To Host Internationally Recognized French Film Festival

Award-winning director Claude Miller, 32 directors and actors to present their films

The 15th annual Virginia Commonwealth University French Film Festival will present an unparalleled selection of feature films and short films, including several North American premieres.

The VCU French Film Festival will be held March 28 through April 1 at the historic Byrd Theatre in Richmond. French director Claude Miller will serve as honorary festival president, leading a delegation of 32 directors and actors who will present their films and participate in question-and-answer sessions with the audience.

This year, the VCU French Film Festival offers a selection of 12 feature films and 12 short films to the public, all illustrating the diversity and richness of current French cinematographic production. All films have English subtitles.

The VCU French Film Festival draws a large audience from Virginia, the District of Columbia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Pennsylvania and New York. Last year’s festival attracted a record-breaking 18,000 patrons made up of a diverse American public, including film enthusiasts, families, art aficionados, teachers and students. Peter Kirkpatrick, Ph.D., executive director of VCU’s Office of International Education, and his wife, Françoise Ravaux-Kirkpatrick, Ph.D., founded the festival and serve as co-directors.

Three films selected for this year’s festival just received César Awards, the national film award of France, which is similar to Academy Awards in the United States. “Je vais bien ne t’en fais pas,” by Philippe Lioret, won awards in two categories, best supporting actor for Kad Merad, and best promising actress for Mélanie Laurent. “Dans la peau de Jacques Chirac,” which will be presented by its directors Karl Zéro and Michel Royer, won the César for best documentary. Actor Malik Zidi won the César for best promising actor for his performance in “Les Amitiés maléfiques.”

Other notable delegation members include Josiane Balasko, (“Les bronzés,” “Les bronzés font du ski,” “Les bronzés 3 amis pour la vie,” “La vie est à nous!,” “L’ex femme de ma vie,” “Un Grand cri d’amour,” “Cette femme là,” “Gazon Maudit,” “Grosse Fatigue,” “Ma vie est un enfer,” “Les Keufs,” “Sac de nœuds,” “Le Père Noël est une ordure,” and “Dites-lui que je l’aime;”) heartthrob French actor Gregori Derangère, (“L’Equipier" and “La Chambre des officiers;”) and Abderrahmane Sissako, director of “Bamako,” this year’s African Francophone film.

The festival will kick off with two Master Classes taught by French directors, the first one on March 28 and March 29 is a “Tribute to Henri Langlois, ‘The man who cultivated cinema to an art,’” by director Jacques Richard, and the second one on March 30, “Diversity in Filming: Independent Cinema and Commercial Film Productions,” by director Gérard Krawczyk. The VCU French Film Festival will begin with Gérard Krawczyk’s film “La vie est à nous!” on Friday, March 30 at 6 p.m., and will close on Sunday, April 1 at 5:30 p.m. with “Je vais bien ne t’en fais pas” presented by its director Philippe Lioret.

The festival is sponsored by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Unifrance, l’ARP (Guild of French Directors and Producers) and the SACD (Guild of Authors, Composers and Directors). Representatives from the French Embassy will attend this year’s festival.

All screenings will be presented at the Byrd Theatre, 2908 Cary St., in the heart of Richmond’s cultural and commercial neighborhood, Carytown. Visit www.frenchfilm.vcu.edu for the 2007 festival schedule and a synopsis of each film.

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.