French Film Festival to return to Richmond

“Attila Marcel” is based on a pianist in Paris trying to follow his dreams. The film will be shown on Sunday, March 30 at the French Film Festival at the Byrd Theatre. Photo courtesy of Pathé films.

Sarah King
Staff Writer

Students will get the chance to spot French celebrities next week as VCU and the University of Richmond partner to put on the 22nd annual French Film Festival March 27-30 at the Byrd Theatre.

The film festival, sponsored by the French Embassy’s Cultural Services, is a four-day event dedicated to French cinematography. Actors, directors, producers, cinematographers, screenwriters and artist-technicians from across France will come to Richmond for the event hosted in Carytown.

“This event is the largest film festival outside of France, and isn’t done anywhere else in the world,” said Peter Kirkpatrick, Ph.D., director of the festival and professor of French culture and film studies at VCU.

Kirkpatrick and his wife Françoise Kirkpatrick, who is a professor at the University of Richmond, have directed the festival since its founding 22 years ago.

The event draws an audience from across the United States, typically topping 21,000 attendees. Kirkpatrick said 47 people from Paris will also be in attendance this year.

“Any student at VCU will later regret missing this unique event if they do not go,” Kirkpatrick said. “This is such a unique opportunity that is held in high esteem by both the French and Americans.”

More than 25 films will be shown throughout the course of the weekend including comedies, social-dramas, documentaries and short films. Presentations by French directors, screenwriters and cinematographers will take place as well. The festival will also feature films shown in countries outside of France and the U.S.

French director Philippe Muyl will premier his new film, “Le Promeneur d’Oiseau,” which is a story centered on the voyage of a grandfather and his granddaughter.

“It is only the second official co-production between China and France, and the first one by a French director,” Muyl said.

French director, actor and producer Jacques Perrin will share a new documentary, “Che strano chiamarsi Federico,” made by Italian director Ettore Scola and Italian cinematographer Luciano Tovoli.

“What a treat Richmond is in for with this film,” Perrin said.

All of the films will have English and French subtitles, so the audience can appreciate films in all languages.

Planning the festival is a yearlong production and includes the work of about 20 interns from VCU and University of Richmond.

“French master’s students in France come over for the film festival, as well as many volunteers, actors, directors and professionals,” Kirkpatrick said.

Students can purchase passes for the event for $65, instructors for $105 and regular attendees for $115. Passes are available online at or at the French Film Festival Office at 920 W. Franklin St.