Professors, students find Centre connection at French film festival
RELEASED: April 5, 2007
DANVILLE, KY—Last weekend, for the second year in a row, language professors Julie James and Patrice Mothion took a group of Centre students to the Virginia Commonwealth University French Film Festival in Richmond, Va. Annelise Askins '07, Meredith Bell '09, Ashley Forns '08 and Talia Harris '08, along with their professors, were among 18,000 French film fans to walk through the doors of the historic Byrd Theatre for the 15th annual festival.
A number of major French actors and directors came to the festival for a personalized viewing of their highly acclaimed films. Among them were César-nominated director Gérard Krawczyk and the famous French actress Josiane Balasko. Also present were members of the French Embassy to the United States and major French network news stations.
On opening night of the festival, a familiar face greeted the group.
"We walked into the theatre and this voice called out 'Centre College, Danville, Kentucky!' James says. "We looked over to see who it was and seated there waiting for the opening remarks was Rich Morrill, former president of Centre College." A nationally recognized strategic planner, Morrill became in 1988 president of the University of Richmond, a co-sponsor of the festival.
During the weekend, the students had the opportunity to watch over 20 film debuts, after which they were allowed to ask questions and make comments directly to the actors and directors of the films.
Harris, a self-designed modern languages major from Billings, Mont., who studied abroad in Strasbourg, France, during spring '06, was given the opportunity to speak after the premiere of Cédric Kahn's, "L'Avion."
"Watching foreign films helps you not only discover the culture, but it also helps to improve listening skills and vocabulary," Harris says. "I enjoyed this experience so much because everything was in French. Sometimes Julie, Patrice and all of us students even spoke French at meals. For me, it was almost like being in Strasbourg again, we were so surrounded by the language."
Adds Askins, a French major and second-year film festival attendee from Wichita Falls, Texas, "When you go to this festival, it's as if you just stepped into some little part of France for the weekend, and you kind of forget that you are, in fact, in the United States and that you have to go back to the regular schedule on Monday."
On Saturday night the group attended a VIP reception with the French Delegation where they enjoyed hors d'oeuvres and conversation (in French, of course) with the celebrities.
"The girls were really surprised to hear so much French spoken this weekend in a small American city," James says. "It was a wonderful experience overall and one that Patrice and I would like to make a regular, Centre-sponsored event each spring."Founded in 1993, the film festival is an American-led initiative to promote French language cinema and culture in the United States and create a tradition of Franco-American corporate and cultural partnerships.
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