The French Film Festival returned for the eighth year at Fullerton College and was better than ever.
The cultural event took place consecutively from March 21 to March 24 to provide a foreign experience for students, faculty and the community by screening foreign movies.
This is the second year that the festival took place at the Fullerton College Campus Theatre and provided attendees with the opportunity to immerse themselves in different culture experiences starting an hour prior to showtime.
The festival started when Dan Willoughby, head of the Humanities Division, received an article from the French-American Cultural Exchange, offering grants to colleges who create a French Film Festival on their campus.
The French Film Festival grew enormously as it was originally presented in the Wilshire Auditorium due to low publicity, but as years passed, advertising expanded to businesses and other foreign language departments in the community.
Eventually, popularity allowed the festival to leave the grant program, Tournées Film Festival, which led to more flexibility, since accepting the grant meant only choosing from a few movies pre-selected by them.
During the past few years, the festival had enough tickets sold and sponsors to purchase their own screening rights and setup for the event.
This year, there were restaurants in the community serving appetizers during the cultural segment of the event for all four event nights, making the event drastically better than last year’s two out of the four days cultural experience.
The restaurants serving food throughout the entirety of the event included Moulin Bistro, Pandor Boulangerie, Hors d’Oeuvres, Yves Restaurant and Wine bar, Porto’s Bakery, La Belle Cuisine, Les Amis, Jägerhaus, Choux Creme and Bourbon Street Restaurant. All served generous amounts of food for goers to enjoy.
There were paintings displayed inside and outside the Fullerton College Theatre from Sonora High School students and were replicas of famous French paintings.
The recreation of the famous Starry Night painting also took place alongside the tent where the food was served.
Nearby stood the musicians in French Club singing French tunes during the entirety of the cultural event prior to the movie.
“I felt every kind of emotion,” Vanessa Loera said, a Fullerton College student, after watching the 2014 French movie “Samba”, which kicked off the event on Tuesday, March 21.
Olivier Nakache and Éric Toledano both directed “Samba”, which is about an immigrant who finds friendship during a time of struggle.
There were two more French films showcased entitled “La Guerre des Boutons” and “Les Innocentes”. “La Guerre des Boutons” was shown on Thursday, March 23, while “Les Innocentes” closed out the festival on Friday, March 24.
“Pre-sale was more than the entire Festival last year” said Carol Rehfield, a French Film Festival committee member. Rehfield was thrilled by the huge achievement for those who worked hard to put the event together.
The first night of the event sold over three quarters of the entire theater. Unsurprisingly, the event on Thursday sold out since it is high school night. All in all, this has been the French Film Festival’s most successful year yet. With the amount of attendees and positive feedback, the event seems to be only getting better.
“In the future, we will like [the festival] to go international,” Violette Vornicel-Guthmann explained in a 2015 interview, who’s one of the founders of the event. A step has now been taken towards achieving that vision.
For the first time in the festival’s history, there was a spotlight on German culture that took place on March 22 with the movie “Die Welle”, or “The Wave”.
The German-centered event included German foods that were provided by Jägerhaus and a cultural German dance called Schuhplattler.
The dance derives from the Alpine regions of Bavaria and Tyrol – lands around southern Germany and Austria, and was performed by the group Die Gemutlichen Schuhplattler of the Phoenix Club.
“We all put in a lot of hard work and time to bring this to fruition and it was great to have the response out there as validation of the effort that everybody put in to make this a success,” Hornell Klaus said, director of the German Program at Fullerton College. “This worked and we want to do it again, and we want to do it even better the next time around.”
The 2018 French Film Festival is already in the works as the committee is determined to make it bigger and more successful. One of the four movies has already been chosen for next year.