In the town of Clermont-Ferrand in France there is a 13th century cathedral built from black volcanic rock. In the center of town there is a statue of Vercingetorix the chieftain who lead the Gauls to resist the invasion of Julius Caesar and the Romans. Every year during the first week of February there is another invasion. 100,000 people descend on the town for an 8 day short film festival. There are no Hollywood actors or executives. These are all short films independently produced from around the world. There were films from China, Russia, Africa, and just about every country.
Iím sure I was over 100 films in the course of the week. Some of the more memorable ones were a movie about shadow puppets from Taipei, a movie about Moroccan immigrants taking a boat to Spain, a movie about a boy, his sister, and a rabbit , and several restored World War I films from 1917.
Every day there were usually 4-5 theaters showing movies at any one time, most of them packed. There were seminars with European film buyers and distributors and a film market. The film market featured booths from many countries trying to distribute their films. At 5:30 different booths took turns hosting happy hour with wine and food.
I met filmmakers from England, Serbia, Italy, and Spain and we went to films and parties together. There was music tent and the Oceana Hotel hosted filmmaker parties almost every night. This is a well organized and well attended festival which has been going on since 1978. If you ever happen to be on vacation in France early in February consider putting this event on your itinerary.