This year, the 18th Annual French Film Festival joined with the James River Film Festival to continue its tradition of welcoming visitors from all over the country to partake in the largest French film festival in the United States. The festival, organized by Francoise Ravaux-Kirkpatrick, a professor of French at the University of Richmond, and her husband, Peter Kirkpatrick, an associate professor of French at Virginia Commonwealth University, consisted of 25 feature length and short films and boasted a delegation of more than 40 French directors, actors and actresses. Along with the films shown at the historic Byrd Theatre, the festival offered a "master class" which focused on 3-D technology in filmmaking as well as commentary from prominent French directors.
Short descriptions of selected films follow:
Director: Yves Hanchar
Sans rancune! In English, "No hard feelings," is the story of 17-year-old Laurent Matagne and his quest to discover the truth behind his father's 1940 disappearance. He finds himself in a Belgian boarding school where he meets a French professor who claims to be a good friend of Laurent's father, and coincidentally bears a striking resemblance to the groom in the only remaining photo of the wedding of Laurent's parents. The film was difficult to keep up with in places, a result, no doubt, of having to read subtitles while watching the action on screen. But, the plot was entertaining and the roles were well played.
Director: Mona Achache
Based on a book by Muriel Barbary, Le Herisson is the story of the interaction between a highly intelligent 11-year-old girl, whose outlook on the trivialities of French upper class are uncharacteristic for her age, and a reclusive, but highly intelligent concierge. The film loses many of the intricacies of the book in terms of philosophical content, and as a whole is relatively mundane from the perspective of an American audience. The film does, however, redeem itself through artistic construction and a heart-wrenching conclusion.
Erreur de la banque en votre faveur
Director: Gerard Bitton, Michel Munz
In Erreur de la banque en votre faveur, a worker in the house of a wealthy banker overhears a series of investment meetings that allow him to have insider information about stock trading. This criminal behavior is offset by the good intentions of all involved and it is ultimately an uplifting film about what happens when the privileged forget the abilities of the average person. The film was not entirely realistic, but it had a nice concept and was a refreshing film to watch after some of the deeper films in the festival.