Bonjour! French Film Festival: Carytown

21 Mar

The French Film Festival, in its 21st year, has returned to Carytown, RVA.  Put on by two local colleges, University of Richmond and VCU, this annual Film Festival draws in huge crowds to the Byrd Theater and Carytown.  With Master Classes to attend and films from feature films to documentary and short films, there is much to see and do at the event. 

I first attended the festival last year and was blown away by the event.  Not only did I enjoy the movies that I saw, but also I loved experiencing an aspect of French culture and learning more about film history and French film history.  I could talk, and talk, and talk about my time at the event but I will just mention some of my favorite highlights of the event.

At last year’s event, they showed a special piece of film history—George Méliès’ The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe.  The film was restored and it was really fascinating to see a film from one of the first filmmakers.

While at last year’s event, I attended the 20th Anniversary Special Screening of Jean-Paul Rappeneau’s Cyrano.  The premise of the story was interesting, minus the fact that Cyrano and Roxane were cousins, it was an interesting twist on a love story.  Cyrano is very much in love with Roxane but is sure that she will reject him because of his rather large nose so he expresses his love for her anonymously in a series of letters on behalf of his friend Christian.  For me the film was nice to see how this crazy love mix-up unfolded but the film was rather slow paced and some scenes were very drawn out.

Another interesting feature film was Poupoupidou, a mashup of a JFK and Marilyn Monroe story mixed with a murder case.  A writer, Rousseau is a best selling crime novelist with a case of writers block.  Candice Lecoeur is a local beauty that believes she is a reincarnate Marilyn Monroe.  She is found dead in this small, rather cold village in France and declared dead by suicide but Rousseau does not buy that and uses the case for inspiration for his book. 

However, I think that my favorite films of the event were the short films.  All of them were very well done—specifically Voûte plantaire.  It is about 

“ [A] rich, orthopedic surgeon [that] has decided to end his life.  Unfortunately, his plans are thwarted when he meets Julie and Camille, two young sisters who come out of nowhere and show him a very different outlook on life.”

What started as a normal, semi-comical film (drama-edy), became weirder and twisted (in a good way, sparking more interest) making the story more complex as the film progressed.  What made this film great was the ending!  I won’t give anything away, but it was like a complete 180, pulling a Chris Nolan Memento-esque moment.  My review, in one word, Brilliant! I love movies like this that make you ponder the unknowns and the “what ifs” like Run, Lola, Run or Sliding Doors.

Another favorite was a short comedy called It is MiracuľHouse.  It is about a man whose mother is in the hospital and she wants to be examined by Dr. House, from the TV show House.  Her son desperate to cure her finds a look alike, Stéphane Freiss, to imitate Hugh Laurie as Dr. House.  A terrific comedy with a genius cast made for a very enjoyable story. 

I enjoyed all of these films so much because their underlying stories translate in any language.  Love, desperation, happiness, acceptance, loss, comedy so on and so forth, are all emotions that anyone can understand and relate to. 

I am very much looking forward to this year’s Film Festival and cannot wait to see the short films 🙂 !


*film synopsis gathered from last years program*

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