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A Taste of French Cinema in Providence

28 Feb , 2010  

Written by Maddy Kadish | Posted by:

The French Short Film Festival sails into Rhode Island this month? Oui!

Some claim short films are akin to calling cards – something for a director to get noticed. Others believe in the integrity of short films as an art form in and of itself. According to Magali Boutiot, Executive Director of the Alliance Française de Providence, “Short films are the unknowns of the movies. Many actors and directors are discovered with short films.”

Several short films now take center stage as the Alliance Française (AF) of Providence hosts the first French Short Film Festival in Rhode Island, 28 shorts in total, every Friday night, from February 12th through June 11th, 2010. The films are in French with English subtitles.

The festival was programmed and distributed by Les Lutins du Court Métrage (in English, Leprechauns of the Short Film), which began in 1997 and has grown to a network of over 2,000 French cinema professionals, known as Les Lutins or “the Leprechauns.” Each “leprechaun” votes to determine that year’s best selection of French short films, which are then screened around the world.

Les Lutins du Court Métrage festival is shown at about 15 AF chapters around the United States, including Washington DC, Chicago, and Denver, all in different ways and at different times of the year. Some are screened at restaurants, some at theatres. This is the first time that Providence is involved in the festival.

Partnering with the AF is a natural fit for the Les Lutins du Court Métrage festival. “We promote French culture and language learning and exchange within the country where we are, whether in the U.S. or Moroco or Algeria,” Boutiot says.

The AF is an international network, with origins dating back to 1883, charged with the mission to foster French cultural and artistic exchanges in cities around the world. There are about 1,070 in the world and about 114 in the US, about 70 of which are also schools. Each AF is managed locally, as an independent, nonprofit, apolitical organization. Each organization becomes its own hub for French citizens, language students and Francophiles. As Boutiot relates, “I am French. I grew up in the south of France. I moved to Montreal and spent 15 years there. When I arrived in the US, I had a tough time living in English. Everything was different. I had used English when I traveled, but to live it everyday was different. I joined the Alliance Française, as a volunteer, then on the board, then I became the Director. It helped me be better able to live in both worlds.”

Her motivation for bringing the festival to Providence was simple. “I wanted to have the festival here. It’s part of the mission – it’s about discovering creativity. I also want to develop a partnership with filmmakers and teachers, to make films available for learning,” says Boutiot.

Sara Rubin, a 2006 recipient of the France’s Order of Arts and Letters, which honors recognition of a significant contribution to the arts and Artistic Director of the Boston Jewish Film Festival says that “France is one of the largest film-producing countries in the world, with a culture that very much appreciates both popular films and what we’d call more art-house films.”

The festival includes animated and live action shorts. “The films are diverse. The basis is French, but there are so many flavors of the world in it,” says Boutiot. The films include Bernie’s Doll (2008) from director Yann Jouette, an animated comedic short about Bernie, a cat food canner looking for happiness in all the wrong places, La Difunta Correa, (2007) by directors Nicolas Cambois and Sébastien Gardet, about two friends lost in the Andes Mountains, Thick Skinned,, (2007) from directors Jean-Bernard Marlin, Benoît Rambourg, a psychological drama where a 21-year old boy tries to impress his father, and Le Baiser (The Kiss) (2007) from director Yann Coridian, a romantic comedy in which a man speaks to a woman who only wants one thing: to kiss him.

According to Boutiot, “These films are very surprising. If you want to be surprised, see short films! I look forward to it every Friday. People have been really positive. Short movies on a big screen – it’s fabulous. I’m thrilled to be a part of it.”

The French Short Film Festival runs from February 12 through June 11, 2010 at the Alliance Française, in Providence, RI. It coincides, in part, with the Providence French Film Festival at Brown University, which runs from February 25 through March 7, 2010.

French Short Film Festival at Alliance Française de Providence:

Alliance Française de Providence:

Alliance Française, USA:

Les Lutins du Court Métrage, in English:

Providence French Film Festival:

French Short Film Festival at Alliance Française de Providence: Alliance Française de Providence: Alliance Française, USA: Les Lutins du Court Métrage, in English: Providence French Film Festival: