Considering that I spent my last spring break in Rome, I was excited to finally get out of Ashland and my house. Today, my friend Madeline and I went to Carytown for the French Film Festival, an event created by VCU and U of R professors back in 1993. French directors, actors, and producers present award-winning films and then hold Q & A sessions, introducing and immersing Americans into French and francophone cinema, language, and culture. I’ve actually wanted to go since I heard about it in high school, but never found the time or money to. (Thankfully, my French professor managed to get subsidized tickets, and my friend and I only had to pay $15. The one stipulation was that I had to write a blurb about our experience, but because I’m a nerd and love writing, it was honestly more of a treat.)
After picking up our student passes, Madeline and I had a quick lunch at The Mellow Mushroom and then headed back to the Byrd Theatre. We came in on the tail end of the Q & A session for Belle et Sébastien, meaning that we got to see the young actor Félix Bousset on stage. Plus, the huge, fluffy white dog (who was probably bigger than the eleven-year-old actor, to be honest) in the movie walked right past us, and Madeline got to pet her as I frantically but fruitlessly tried to snap a picture of her.
Our French Film Festival pass, which is just another thing with poor Félix’s face plastered all over it:
Now twice as excited after the unexpected dog encounter, Madeline and I settled down to watch Le goût des merveilles (for you non-francophones, sorry, I’m too lazy to translate that into English). The movie, written and directed by Eric Besnard, is set in Provence (the region where I studied abroad!) and follows the intertwining storylines of Louise, a widower struggling to support her children and her farm, and Pierre, a brilliant man with Aspergers.
Quite frankly, the trailer didn’t do the movie justice. Madeline and I were terrified that the movie was going to be sad because, uh, what else would you expect from French movies? (Kidding, here. French cinema has incredible variety.) Le goût des merveilles was pretty much the exact opposite of that, a bright and humorous film that made the entire audience laugh—numerous times—but with some underlying hints of tragedy. Witty, charming, heartwarming and heartbreaking, it’s a movie that explores human relationships. Plus, the cinematography was just…gorgeous. Not to mention, it had an adorably hilarious running theme of dots.
Here’s the movie poster for Le goût des merveilles. Gorgeous, no?
Our first French Film Festival was definitely a success, and no, the fact that I got really excited about hearing French outside of school was definitely not a factor. Nope, not at all.