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38th Deauville American Film Fest Lights Up Normandy

38th Deauville American Film Fest Lights Up Normandy

Published on September 7, 2012
Tributes Planned for Harvey Keitel, John Williams

Chalk it up to the region’s shared history with the U.S. When Americans and other Allied troops stormed the beaches at Normandy in 1944, they couldn’t have known they were setting precedent for another American wave: the movies.

Now in its 38th year, the Deauville American Film Festival will show new and classic films from the stateside cinema industry through September 9. Themes include "Uncle Sam’s Docs," a documentary series selected to shed light on American life and culture, and "American Nights," a 24-hour screening of famous flicks—including, naturally, "The French Connection."

This year’s guest of honor is U.S. actor and Academy Award nominee Harvey Keitel, whose memorable lead roles include "Bugsy" (1991), "Reservoir Dogs"(1992) and "The Piano"(1993).

Inaugurated in 1975, U.S. movie enthusiasts André Halimi and Lionel Chouchan planned their first modest festival in Deauville to enliven the city beyond the traditional summer and horseracing seasons. After major American stars such as Gregory Peck attended in 1977, the festival developed as a signal event in the seaside town’s cultural calendar. Around the same time, Anne d’Ornano, the city’s mayor and longtime festival supporter, said that "Hollywood has found itself a home in Normandy."

Progressive improvements to the series have drawn increasingly broader public attention. A film competition became a permanent part of the program in 1995. Organizers launched a 24-hour marathon of classic movies in 2007, celebrating the rich legacy of Hollywood’s "Golden Age" and other periods. The 2010 event screened television series and hosted a conference devoted to screenwriting. The new platforms assured representation of U.S. films of all stripes, from independent pictures and documentaries to blockbusters and a special "New Hollywood" project to support young U.S. talent.

The event has taken on premier status for the American film industry abroad. U.S. visitors making the trip to Deauville could comprise a who’s-who of their country’s film scene, with Sydney Pollack, Clint Eastwood, Michael Douglas, Paula Wagner and Rachel Weisz having each taken a turn on Deauville’s red carpet.

The festival’s annual Grand Prize will be awarded September 8 to one of 15 filmmakers, of whom six are screening films for the first time this year. The Radio France Philharmonic Orchestra will play a special tribute concert on September 13 for John Williams, the American composer who scored the "Indiana Jones" and "Star Wars" series.

Please see the Deauville American Film Festival’s full program.

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