The French Film Festival will celebrate its 20th anniversary beginning this Thursday when it once again occupies the Byrd Theatre. Featuring twenty-four short and full-length films, the festival is the largest celebration of French cinema in the entire country.
For the past nineteen years, some of the most engaging and fascinating French celluloid has flickered across Richmond cinema screens. Later this weekend, the French Film Festival will host another year of screening while celebrating its 20th anniversary.
The festival, created by Françoise Ravaux-Kirkpatrick and Peter Kirkpatrick, admits more than 21,000 film-goers each year, with some traveling from faraway locals as Australia, Hawaii, and California.
“It truly is amazing to think back to those early days and see how much we have grown,” said Ravaux-Kirkpatrick, a professor of French and film studies at the University of Richmond and festival co-director. “Many of France’s biggest stars and directors have participated in the French Film Festival over the years, and in turn, we have introduced Richmond and the rest of the country to some incredible French films, many of which debuted in the United States at the festival.”
The festival, the largest of its kind in the United States, will screen twelve new full-length films and twelve new short films, each imbuing audience members with a taste of French life and experience.
The festival also has connections with the famous Cannes Film Festival, as the same technical team from Cannes outfits the Byrd Theatre with sound and visual technology. Additionally, both Françoise Ravaux-Kirkpatrick and Peter Kirkpatrick have formerly served as members of the Cannes Film Festival, as well as received the Beaumarchais Medal from the French Writers Guild for their efforts in promoting French cinema.
“One thing that sets the Festival apart is that in addition to introducing the American public to French films, we have provided the audience the opportunity to engage with the actors and directors in question-and-answer sessions following each film,” said Peter Kirkpatrick. “Attendees have unparalleled access to some of the biggest names in French cinema.”
In addition to filmmakers and actors appearing in Richmond, the festival will introduce a new feature to this year’s event: a three-day symposium titled “French Film: Arts, Science, and Technology at Work for Humanity” held at the University of Richmond’s Ukrop Auditorium. Now running through March 28th, the symposium will feature more than thirty-five French cinema industry specialists who will present research in special effects and optics, along with their latest film projects. The symposium is free and open to the public.
The festival will run from Thursday, March 29th – Sunday, April 1st. Passes are available starting at $65. Individual film screenings are $15. Tickets can be purchased here. A full schedule of the films can be found here.