The Sacramento French Film Festival continues this weekend, June 28-June 30, at the Crest Theatre. Photo by Alexandra Auger.
The 12th Annual Sacramento French Film Festival launched this past weekend with a fantastic opening night at the historic Crest Theatre. The night began with a delightful reception, beautifully catered by a fantastic group of restaurants including French cuisine provided by Bistro Michel, Café Rolle, and Estelle’s Patisserie, a fantastic French bakery from Downtown Sacramento. There was delicious wine provided by Barefoot Wine that included a Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Cabernet Sauvignon.
In honor of Fête de la Musique, the annual music festival in France, the film festival opened with the movie, Cloclo, about one of France’s largest music stars, Claude François. Before the showing of the film began, Cécile Mouette Downs, Executive & Artistic Director and co-founder of the Sacramento French Film Festival was awarded a medal in front of the audience by San Francisco French Consulate cultural attaché, Denis Bisson. The medal marks her as a knight as awarded by the French order of Arts and Lettres, which is coincidentally something Downs shares with Florent Emilio Siri, director of Cloclo.
As we were introduced to the film, we were notified that they had a surprise for us; as the film began its opening music video scene of Claude Francois performing his disco jam, “Alexandrie Alexandra,” a group of dancers and a Claude Francois look alike took the stage to dance along with the video. Following this opening scene, they paused the film and the Claude Francois look-a-like took to the stage with a piano accompaniment to perform Claude’s hit song, “Comme d’habitude.”
Leave all cares behind and head to the Crest Theatre for the Sacramento French Film Festival. Photo by Dimitri Stanich.
The film walks through the different chapters of Claude Francois’ life and ultimately builds up to his success with the song, “Comme d’habitude” (French for “as usual”), as well as his untimely, unfortunate death. After the film, everyone converged in groups of conversation where all made a fuss over how much they loved the film.
My friend and I both agreed that we weren’t distracted from the film for a single second, which is saying something considering the fact that the film is two and half hours long. Jérémie Renier, the actor who portrayed Claude Francois, did an excellent job drawing the audience right in to the story of the famous French musician. We could not look away, we became emotionally attached, and by the end of the film, we felt we had lived through the stages of Claude’s life, right there with him.
The hit song was heard by Paul Anka while he was visiting the South of France on vacation; he was intrigued by the song and negotiated the rights to it right away. He knew he could write it, but he had someone else in mind to sing it—Frank Sinatra. Sinatra was originally uninterested, but after Anka reworked the song with the mindset, “How would Frank say this?” Frank agreed to record it. It was released in March 1969, and has since been recorded by several different artists such as Elvis and Sex Pistols’ bassist, Sid Vicious.
Cécile shared an important note about the difference between the original song in French and the way it was translated and interpreted in English—in French, the song translates as a song about losing love, it is very sad, while in English it is interpreted positively. Even my friend, who has studied French for eight years, informed me that the song is very, very sad (the French version, at least). She told me that Claude sang, “As usual, I will pretend…we’ll be together, but we will pretend.”
Watch films in the beautiful, historic Crest Theatre during the Sacramento French Film Festival. Photo by Dimitri Stanich.
The second weekend of the French Film Festival features an assortment of wonderful films including two films starring Audrey Tautou, the French actress known for her lead role in Amélie. As a fan of Audrey Tautou, I look forward to seeing the two films (Delicacy and Thérèse) that showcase Tautou in two very different roles, one being a woman who finds love twice, and the other a wife who takes a shocking route out of an unhappy marriage. There are few things better (when it comes to cinema), than seeing an actor you enjoy taking on very different roles.
All in all, the Sacramento French Film Festival aims to please and it does just that, and then some. Romancing audiences with its exquisite films, the festival will take all on a journey into French culture and leave them dreaming of croissants, the Eiffel Tower, as well as the French coast and countryside. There’s no need to grab your passport when you can stroll on down to the Crest Theatre this next weekend and peer into the lives of the French who understand, “joie de vivre,” meaning, “the joy of living.”
The Sacramento French Film Festival continues this Friday, June 28 at Crest Theatre until Sunday, June 30. Festival passes are available at the door or online, in addition to single tickets for individual film screenings, with prices ranging from $10-$36.