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Mini French Film Fest in Sacramento becomes place of solace

Video: Film Festival place of solace after Paris attacks

The Sacramento Mini French Film festival came one day after the terrorist attacks in Paris. Organizers reflect on the tragedy.
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The Sacramento Mini French Film festival came one day after the terrorist attacks in Paris. Organizers reflect on the tragedy.

As the 1 p.m. opening of the Mini Fall French Film Fest approached Saturday in Sacramento, a line of people stretched from the doors of the Crest Theatre out to K Street.

The better-than-expected turnout for the second-year spinoff of the Sacramento French Film Festival came a day after Friday’s terrorist attacks left at least 129 dead and hundreds wounded.

“I still want it to be fun. I hope you enjoy the films,” Cecile Mouette, one of the event’s founders, told the audience before the opening screening.

The program went on as planned, but with a couple elements added to honor those killed in the attacks.

Mouette opened the one-day, five-film minifestival by encouraging attendees to continue to live life to the fullest.

“You can’t live in worry. You just have to go on with your life and be glad that you are alive and enjoy life,” she said in an interview.

The show started a few minutes late as organizers sought to accommodate people waiting in line to buy tickets. Mouette said she saw an uptick in attendance, the tragic event might have been the tipping point for some people on the fence about attending.

Of the five-film slate, one “Once in a Lifetime” (Les Héritiers) addresses issues of race and immigration as a history teacher challenges a group of tough inner-city immigrant students to participate in a rigorous history challenge. The event concludes with a 9:25 p.m. screening. The full festival is set for June.

Mouette was in the midst of making last-minute preparations for the festival when the news about the attacks broke Friday.

“That was just a very difficult time. I was listening to the French radio all day. I was thinking, ‘Ah, this is awful that this is happening right now,’ but at the same time it feels nice for the community to get together.”

In addition to the moment of silence to open the festival, another tribute was planned before the 7:15 p.m. screening with remarks from a representative from the French consulate. As the first film played, Guy Michelier, the French Honorary Consul of Sacramento, placed a French flag on a stand next to a condolences book, then meticulously tied a black ribbon around it.

The condolences book will be brought the French Consulate in San Francisco.

“Hopefully with this small event we can uplift some people,” Michelier said. “Although it’s a small thing happening … it is our way to say to the French community that we are here and supporting you in this very sad time.’

Chris Tafoya, a festival board member, anxiously awaited news about friends Friday.

“Thank heavens for Facebook. It nice people are able to check in,” said Tafoya, who said he knows many Paris residents through the festival.

He and other said they hope the terror attack don’t cause an overreaction.

“I’m hoping this doesn’t fuel a bunch of Islamophobia,” Tafoya said. “It’s a small group of radicalized people.”

Editor’s note: Cecile Mouette is one of the founders of the Sacramento French Film Festival, who greeted festival goers and was interviewed for this story. In an earlier version, she was incorrectly identified.

Ed Fletcher: 916-321-1269, @NewsFletch