Sacramento French film festival goes virtual

Trailer Le Mystère Henri Pick / Le Mystère Henri Pick (2019). Image © Sacramento French Film Festival

The promotional material for the Sacramento French Film Festival (SFFF) often states: “My life is a French film”. The illustrations are symbols of France from the Eiffel Tower like the stiletto heel on a red-soled Louboutin shoe to a beloved reminder of Notre-Dame de Paris. This year the theme is “My Life is a Virtual French Film” with red / white / blue striped socks covering crossed feet in front of an iPad screen showing a movie.

In a way, everything is said in the world of cinema today.

But unlike the seemingly constant search through its streaming media subscriptions to find an interesting film, the Sacramento French Film Festival / Virtual Edition is a curated collection of 10 new feature films otherwise unavailable in the United States that can be watched on demand. from the comfort of your sofa, chair, bed or any other place is a favorite place to watch movies. The movies will be available from June 19-28, 2020, but the festival will move beyond typical movie streaming nights to add the festival part. In addition, the films will be accessible across the United States and will not only be shown at Sacramento’s Crest Theater on a weekend, the festival’s regular venue.

Sacramento French Film Festival 2020 poster
Image © Sacramento French Film Festival

“All films are exclusive to the festival,” said Cécile Mouette Downs, executive and artistic director of the Sacramento French Film Festival. “There is no distribution in the United States for any of them. And we chose a real mix of comedy, romance, drama, even science fiction. We didn’t want dark movies or really depressing movies. “

There will be a virtual opening ceremony on Zoom before the screening of the first film on Friday, June 19. Attendees can bring their own drinks and chat with the festival team and other attendees across the United States on the virtual meeting platform. One day after the release of each film, a virtual Zoom Q&A on the film will take place. Attendees can ask local guests questions about the films, exchange opinions, and view bonus content from select directors.

According to Downs, the goal of the festival team was to do something and not cancel the event. It’s the 19th year of the Sacramento French Film Festival and everyone wanted it to be as normal as possible. They watched California Governor Gavin Newson’s press conferences daily and tried to make the best decisions based on the known information and regulations in a timely manner. They needed time to rework the festival which included the support and cooperation of French film distributors as well as the creation of their own viewing platform.

Alice and the Mayor / Alice and the Mayor (2019).  Sacramento French Film Festival
Alice and the Mayor / Alice and the Mayor (2019) Trailer. Image © Sacramento French Film Festival

The result is 10 French films from the opening film The Mystery of Henri Pick, a mystery / comedy which stages the Breton coast and the streets of Paris while a thriller is solved, for Arab blues where a woman returns to Tunisia after years in Paris to open her own psychotherapy practice. Two of the films are by women directors (Arab blues directed by Manele Labidi and The dazzled directed by Sara Suco) and the collection will take viewers across France as well as South Korea, the Central African Republic and Tunisia. The political drama Alice and the mayor with Anaïs Demoustier, winner of the César 2020 for best actress. The police drama Mercy! with Roschdy Zem, winner of the César 2020 for best actor.

A film will be released each day of the 10 days of the festival. Each film will be visible for three days on the festival platform, then withdrawn. For the last weekend of the festival (Friday June 26 through Monday June 29 – an extra day), viewers can see the last three films starting Friday if they want to binge. Single movie rental is $ 12 and a festival pass for all 10 movies is $ 90.

The festival is partnering with a few restaurants in Sacramento that will be offering a special SFFF take-out meal package. Information on participating restaurants will soon be added to the SFFF website.

Downs’ favorite film at this year’s festival is Mercy! which she considers “a great movie”. However, Downs enjoys all the movies and had to stop when she started talking enthusiastically about others. Downs is the founder of the SFFF and received the Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres for the creation of the festival.

“This virtual event is new to everyone,” she said. “We had to find films that the film distributors were willing to let us use and a platform to show which films would be acceptable to them. We’ve worked hard to figure this out, to make it virtual and fun.

Because SFFF is virtual this year, the many French actors / actresses and directors will not be present like the usual years because the US / France time zones are different. But Downs and his team continue to reach out to artists in the film and may have some surprise attendees in the Zoom Q&A.

It is the strange beauty of virtual events. Upper half – tuxedo. Lower part – pajamas. But if you are fashionable enough to own a pair of Louboutins, please wear them when watching the movies instead of socks.

Gloria Mundi (2019).  Sacramento French Film Festival 2020
Gloria Mundi (2019) Trailer. Image © Sacramento French Film Festival


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