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Clermont-Ferrand 2018: Day 1

Director of Programming James McNally is attending this year’s Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival from February 1st to February 8th

Jet lag was still a factor today, as I woke up initially at 5:00am and then ultimately slept until 11:30am! There wasn’t much on the agenda today except to pick up my accreditation and the office didn’t open up until 2:00pm. So I wandered up the familiar Rue de la Treille and found my old spot Le menhir, where I stopped in for a lunch of a gallette called “Le poulet grand-pere” which was filled with chicken, potatoes, and mushrooms. Delicious!

I got to the Maison de la Culture around 2:30pm and had a good hour’s wait in line to pick up my pass, catalogue, and shoulder bag. A sense of familiarity was welcome as I found my way to the right place. I also picked up a ticket for tonight’s opening presentation at 8:00pm.

After a quick browse at FNAC on the way home (no, I didn’t buy any more DVDs!), I returned to my room and quickly fell asleep. A planned 40 minute nap turned into two hours (again) and when I woke up, I only had a few minutes to get ready to head back down to the Maison de la Culture.

I had a very good seat near the front, and after I picked up my headphones for English translation, I settled into my seat. There were a few speeches, but not many, and it was mostly about introducing the various juries and programmes for the week. It was all interspersed with a selection of older short films, which I assume have played here in the past. The festival is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, which is a remarkable accomplishment, and it was inspiring to hear Antoine Lopez, one of the co-founders, still speaking passionately about how the festival was founded to defend short film as a valuable art form. He has grown the festival from 1,200 visitors in its first edition in 1979 to more than 160,000 visitors last year. It’s always inspiring to hear numbers like that, and to look around the Salle Jean Cocteau to see 1,400 people who love to watch shorts.

Having neglected to eat dinner, I was feeling a bit hungry on my way home. What a surprise then that my hostess, Delphine, had left me a lovely note telling me that she had made crepes and that there were two waiting for me in the fridge. She has been so kind and generous to me; last night she left a note on the door for her children telling them I’d had a long flight and not to make too much noise.

Well, tomorrow is the first full day of screenings, so I’d better crack open the massive catalogue and start making a schedule. One of the themes this year is gastronomy, so it’s not too inappropriate for me to talk about a feast of short films. Now to go and look at the menu! 🙂