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Davis, California

Saturday, April 20, 2024

French Film Festival hits Crest Theatre

Sacramento French Film Festival

July 18 to 27 at the Crest Theatre in Sacramento

Single film screening: $9 for students, $10 for non-students


If the French language is the universal language of love, then movie lovers will fall in love all over again at this year’s Sacramento French Film Festival.

Created to introduce the Sacramento public to French films, the seventh annual film festival will open Friday with its opening night reception and open wine bar at the Crest Theatre in Sacramento.

“We wanted to show films that would never come to Sacramento,” said Cécile Mouette Downs, one of the cofounders of the festival. “We have no goal but to entertain [with French films]. There is a broad variety of films, including comedy, romance and documentary.”

Downs, who received a Master’s of Arts in History at the University of Paris X in Paris, first worked at the French embassy in New York City promoting French cinema before moving out to Sacramento in 2001. While she noticed the diversity in Sacramento, she was puzzled by the absence of French films in theatres in the city.

With a desire to share her passion, she decided Sacramento needed a film festival dedicated to French films. Downs started Sacramento French Film Festival in 2002 as a three-day festival showcasing six French films. The festival grew in attendance, and by 2005, it expanded to the current two-week-long format.

This year, the festival will kick off with OSS 117: Le Caire nid d’espions (which translates to OSS 117: Cairo Nest of Spies), a spy movie about a bungling secret agent. In accordance with the film festival’s tradition of exhibiting classic French films, there will be a screening of the fabled old short, “The Red Balloon.”

The festival will continue into the next weekend with over a dozen French films. In addition, Connie Georgiu, the administrative director of the festival, said that the actors and directors of some of the films often drop by the festival, which provides the audience an opportunity to ask questions.

“The atmosphere tends to be more interactive,” Georgiu said.

The films will be in French with English subtitles, and the event will be used to introduce American audiences to a different genre of cinema. Downs said that French films are different from mainstream Hollywood films.

“The stories in French films are more complex than American movies,” Downs said. “They’re more open-ended. You have to think about it. It challenges the audience.”

Besides exposing French films to Sacramento, the festival also donates the proceeds from the event to the Alliance Française de Sacramento, a non-governmental, nonprofit organization that promotes French culture. Alliance Française de Sacramento works along with the film festival providing volunteers and administrator help. The director of the Alliance Française de Sacramento, Beatrice Hildebrand, said she loves the French festival.

“I love it because it opens doors and shows the international culture of Sacramento. It shows the flair of the city.”

Tickets for each film screening are $9 for students and $10 for non-students. All-day passes are also available. For a complete listing of show time and movies playing at the Sacramento French Film Festival, go to sacramentofrenchfilmfestival.org.


JACKSON YAN can be reached at arts@californiaaggie.com.


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