SCAD Lacoste Film Festival: Attending Stars, Programming, Screenings 5

The Savannah College of Art and Design is again bringing a generous helping of Southern hospitality to France’s Luberon Valley for the SCAD Lacoste Film Festival, which runs June 27 to 29. Now in its third year, the fest was conceived as a top-up highlight for college students doing their semester abroad at SCAD’s sumptuous campus in Lacoste, an inexcusably picturesque medieval village in the heart of Provence.

“[SCAD founder and president] Paula Wallace always wants to make sure our students have access to the best of everything,” says Christina Routhier, executive director of SCAD Theaters and Festivals. “The focus [at SCAD Lacoste] is on film majors: acting, directing, production, costume design. So it was a perfect fit to bring in a film festival.”

The event is a complement to the school’s long-running main fest in Savannah, Georgia, which runs Oct. 26 to Nov. 2. Attracting talent to Lacoste, with its Instagram-ready cobblestone streets and lavender fields, hasn’t been a problem.

After snagging Jeremy Irons for its inaugural edition and the incomparable Leslie Manville last year, SCAD Lacoste 2024 “has about triple the programming,” says Routhier, with a VIP guest list that includes BAFTA-nominated director Sam Taylor-Johnson (Fifty Shades of Grey, Back to Black), Golden Globe-winning actress Miranda Richardson (Damage, The Crying Game), Oscar-nominated French director Jean-Pierre Jeunet (Amélie, Delicatessen) and Oscar-winning costume designer Janty Yates (Gladiator, Napoleon).

Also attending are Back to Black producer Alison Owen; French production designer Anne Seibel, famous for her work on Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette, Netflix’s Emily in Paris and Apple TV+’s The New Look; and award-winning documentarian Lisa Immordino Vreeland (Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel).

The festival is still putting the final touches on its program, but highlights will include screenings of Back to Black, the original Gladiator, The New Look and Amélie, followed by Q&A sessions with filmmakers. “We do many of our screenings outdoors, and the backdrop is, well, just phenomenal,” says Routhier, underselling the college’s Maison Basse location, a restored 16th century farmhouse and garden that was once used as a gambling den by the Marquis de Sade.

SCAD’s links to Lacoste go back decades to when Wallace began purchasing and restoring historic buildings in the village. The college’s European hub includes more than 30 properties, including such stunning rehabilitations as the Résidence du SCAD, a four-story medieval stone inn that now serves as a student residence hall and includes such luxuries as a heated pool on its secluded garden terrace, and the Boulangerie, the former village bakery that functions as the campus social center. Every window looks out onto the cherry orchards and fields of lavender that extend into the distance under that famous Provence sunlight.

“It is one of the most magical areas in the world, where artists from all over time have come to study the beauty, the architecture and, of course, the light,” says Routhier, name-checking the A-list painters — Monet, Picasso, van Gogh, et al — who have made the pilgrimage to Lacoste, seeking inspiration. “That obviously makes the Provence region very exciting for our students, who not only take classes in these historic buildings and walk these streets but do excursions throughout the entire region as well.”

If the location is one unique selling point for the SCAD Lacoste festival, another is the audience. The screenings, panels and Q&A sessions are open to the public, and the fest draws a healthy crowd of locals and tourists from the village and the surrounding region. But SCAD students make up the core; some 150 will be in Lacoste for the summer semester.

“Obviously, people want to come because the festival is in beautiful Provence, but they also know that our students are serious about art, they are serious about learning, and they want to interact with industry professionals,” says Routhier. “That makes the biggest difference for our guests. We go to a lot of different festivals throughout the year, and I can definitely say that ours has this youthful vibrant energy that sets it apart and makes the guests want to come.”

This story first appeared in the June 19 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.

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