English main menu

Le Festival


The festival year-round

In addition to selecting films and organising the event, La Rochelle International Film Festival has for many years run educational initiatives that take place both year-round and during the festival.

By working with a variety of partners the festival helps to educate and raise awareness among young spectators and provide disadvantaged groups with access to films and film-making practices.

The festival also brings together industry professionals and promotes exchange by holding a range of professional events throughout the 10 days of the festival.

School partnerships

With Film & Audiovisual Studies classes in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region

Since 1996 the festival has run educational projects for students specialising in Film & Audiovisual Studies at local secondary schools (Angoulême, Brive, Loudun, Rochefort, and Talence). Students are invited to spend four days at the festival, during which they are given full access to the programme. Workshops, special screenings and opportunities to meet filmmakers and other industry professionals are also provided. In addition, the festival organises an inter-school film-concert workshop, run once again in 2017 by the oboist Christian Paboeuf. The resulting concert is then performed on several occasions during the festival.

Download the 2017 information booklet (French only)

With funding from the Nouvelle-Aquitaine Regional Council and the Society of Authors, Composers and Publishers of Music (Sacem). In partnership with the Conservatoire de Musique et de Danse de La Rochelle.​


With La Rochelle secondary schools

Since 2004 the festival has worked with four local secondary schools (Dautet, Saint-Exupéry, Valin and Vieljeux) to offer “Au cœur du Festival”, a journalism workshop for students. Working under the guidance of a festival-appointed coordinator and staff from the schools, 40 students learn how to prepare a variety of materials (for example, interviews and film analyses). The finished work (film columns, radio broadcasts, filmed reports, photos) is then published on the Facebook page “Au cœur du Festival”.


Funded by the Nouvelle-Aquitaine Regional Council.​


Six students from Lycée Valin spent a year working with the filmmaker Pascal-Alex Vincent to create a music video for Elephant & Centipede, a group of young musicians based at La Sirène.

With funding from the Nouvelle-Aquitaine Regional Council and the foundation Fiers de Nos Quartiers. In partnership with Lycée Valin, La Sirène (a contemporary music venue in La Rochelle) and Port Atlantique de La Rochelle (local port authority).​


Since 2011 the festival has also worked with Lycée Dautet by organising film previews followed by events at which students can meet filmmakers and industry professionals. Students are also encouraged to participate in the films produced during festival workshops.


With Lycée Rotrou in Dreux

Rotrou Dreux

Each year the festival works with a small group of secondary school students engaged in film and audiovisual studies in Dreux. The students spend 10 days attending a workshop run by Thierry Méranger, from the French film magazine Cahiers du cinema, writing articles on the festival. The finished articles are published on a dedicated page on the festival’s website.




With local primary schools

“Le son et la musique au cinéma” (Sound and Music in Film) is a programme of activities run throughout the school year. It aims to raise pupils’ awareness of sound and music in film and engage them in practical artistic activities. Pupils learn to listen, create a variety of sounds, understand how images and sounds work together, and assess the impact of music and sound on a film’s plot. The two workshops are run by Benoît Basirico (film music specialist), Pascal Ducourtioux (musician) and Mathieu Nappez (sound engineer).

With funding from La Rochelle City Council as part of their programme “Par[t]cours”, which aims to provide children with access to art and culture.

Collaborative projects with university students

With La Rochelle University


Since 2005 the festival has offered concessionary rates to students holding a “Pass Culture”. Additionally, projects connected to various university courses were implemented during the 2016-2017 academic year. As part of the festival “Les étudiants à l’affiche”, for example, a screening of Dancing Dreams: In the Footsteps of Pina Bausch by Anne Linsel and Rainer Hoffmann was followed by a debate on the theme of transmission in dance. Student-led dance projects were also initiated and information sessions presenting the festival’s programme were held at the university’s library.

In partnership with Espace Culture at La Rochelle University and the Centre Chorégraphique National de La Rochelle.​


With EESI (École Européenne Supérieure de l’Image d’Angoulême)

Bande Annonce 2013

Since 2006 the festival’s trailer, shown on CINÉ+ channels, the festival’s website and in cinemas around Paris and the Nouvelle-Aquitaine Region, has been entrusted to students from the École Européenne Supérieure de l’Image d’Angoulême (European School of Visual Arts in Angoulême) as part of their course.

In partnership with EESI and TRAFIC Image.​




The festival screens a number of short films co-produced by students from the University of Poitiers’ CRÉADOC programme (MA in creative documentaries) and EMCA (École des Métiers du Cinéma d’Animation or School of Film Animation Technologies) in Angoulême. In 2017, for the fifth year, CRÉADOC students played an active role at the festival by filming daily meet-and-greet sessions with directors and making short films on a subject of their choice.

CRÉADOC is a course run at the University of Poitiers’ Angoulême campus for authors and directors specialising in creative writing and documentary-making.

EMCA, also based in Angoulême, trains students to work in the animation industry. The curriculum is designed to help students develop a perfect mastery of digital and traditional animation tools via the making of short films.



Working under the supervision of two EMCA lecturers, four students from the school co-produced four short animated documentaries with inmates from Saint-Martin-de-Ré Prison between January and April 2017.


Avec l’abbaye de Saint-Jean-d’Angely

The festival has developed a partnership with NEF Animation (Nouvelles Écritures pour le Film d’Animation), a new initiative introduced by Saint-Jean-d’Angély Abbey to support creative research and training in the field of animation.


With the Conservatoire de Musique et de Danse de La Rochelle

Since 2012 the festival has provided educational support and training to students studying the art of the film-concert (film screenings accompanied by live music) in the form of master classes and a film-concert workshop, with the resulting concert performed during the festival at La Coursive and at local retirement home “Le Plessis”.

In partnership with the Conservatoire de Musique et de Danse de La Rochelle.



Each year the festival offers 10 young foreigners aged 18 to 30 the chance to discover a variety of film industry professions. This includes spending time with filmmakers, distributors, journalists, critics, and the festival’s organisers, and having access to the entire programme of films, with specific support provided and articles published on a blog.

Download the 2017 information booklet (French only)

Run in cooperation with La Rochelle Youth Hostel and the Alliances Françaises network.


With the Film & Audiovisual Section at the Sorbonne-Nouvelle

Each year a group of film students is selected to take part in the festival. As well as providing access to the entire programme, the festival organises workshops and creates opportunities for the students to meet filmmakers and other industry professionals.

Download the 2017 information booklet (French only)

In partnership with the Arts & Media Department at the Sorbonne Nouvelle - Paris 3.


With La FÉMIS (École Nationale Supérieure des Métiers de l’Image et du Son)

The festival invites seven students enrolled on the Distribution and Cinema Management course at La Fémis (French state film school) to help organise the festival as part of their studies. Each student is asked to present a film at a screening of their choice and organise a meet-and-greet type event after the film.

In partnership with the Distribution and Cinema Management Department at La Fémis.​




With ESGCI (École Supérieure de Gestion et de Commerce International) in Paris

As part of their course a group of 30 students reflects on ways to develop new partnership-building strategies for the festival. Forming groups of four, for example, they put together sponsorship kits to help the festival find new sponsors. These are then presented before a jury and the students receive accreditations for the festival.

Run in cooperation with ESGCI (School of Management and International Trade).​


Hosting of young professionals from Quebec

The festival hosts a young professional from Quebec on a two-month mobility scheme designed to foster intercultural exchange and develop networking opportunities. The winner of the “Jeune Critique” (Young Critics) competition, organised by the festival “Rendez-Vous du Cinéma Québécois” in Montreal, is also invited to join the organising team in La Rochelle. In return, a festival intern is to be invited to Montreal in February 2018.

For more information visit the OFQJ’s website (French only)

With funding from the Office Franco-Québécois pour la Jeunesse (France-Quebec youth exchange programme).​


Outreach initiatives for audiences unable to attend the festival

In partnership with Saint-Martin-de-Ré Prison

Ateliers St-Martin

Since 2000 the festival has worked with the prison on two central projects:

- The production of short films made by inmates under the guidance of filmmakers Bertrand van Effenterre, José Varéla, Jean Rubak and Amélie Compain, and Vincent Lapize. In 2017 this workshop was run in partnership with EMCA. It enabled inmates to write and direct four short animated documentaries with four students, overseen by EMCA lecturers Marie Doria and Martin Hardouin-Duparc. The resulting films are shown at the festival (and at other events around France), if possible in the presence of the inmates involved. A total of 20 films has been made and screened as part of this workshop since 2001. This project allows inmates to test a variety of audiovisual techniques. It also aims to support their artistic endeavours and ensure recognition for their work outside the prison.

- The screening of films within the prison followed by discussions between guest filmmakers, musicians and the inmates.

This year the festival’s prison-based activities received funding from the following partner institutions: DRAC Nouvelle-Aquitaine (Regional Cultural Affairs Directorate), the Charente-Maritime Prison Rehabilitation and Probation Service, and Saint-Martin-de-Ré Town Council. The 2017 films were co-produced with EMCA.


In partnership with La Rochelle-Ré-Aunis hospital complex

Ateliers hopital

As part of this partnership introduced in 2010 the festival organises:

  • Film screenings, film-concerts and animation workshops for hospitalised children
  • Film screenings, film-concerts and workshops for retirement home residents
  • Film screenings and workshops for patients from the day hospital and psychiatric ward at Marius-Lacroix hospital.

These activities enable patients to enjoy access to high quality films and music, and to take part in creative projects.

Organised with funding from the Regional Health Agency, DRAC Nouvelle-Aquitaine and the Nouvelle-Aquitaine Regional Council. In partnership with La Rochelle-Ré-Aunis hospital complex.


Community projects

In partnership with “Passeurs d’images”

The festival participates in this programme which aims to promote access to film for people usually deprived of such access and improve visual and media literacy. The festival invites inhabitants of outlying areas of the city to attend film screenings and helps organise open-air projections in various neighbourhoods during the festival.


In partnership with La Rochelle’s multimedia libraries

Throughout the year, in partnership with the city’s multimedia libraries, the festival organises film screenings in several neighbourhoods (Villeneuve, Laleu-La Pallice, and Mireuil). These projections are open to all and followed by debates. They allow the festival to meet new audiences and introduce them to exceptional, high-quality films.

Download the 2017 information leaflet (French only)


Writing and directing workshop

Part of the intergenerational community project entitled “Le Corps de la ville” (run in Mireuil, Villeneuve-les-Salines and Port Neuf). For the third year the festival worked with the filmmaker Nicolas Habas on “Le Corps de la ville”, a video and contemporary dance web series filmed entirely in public spaces. The concept of the series is simple: one location, one or more dancers, and a film lasting two to four minutes. Each episode is filmed in a new and unique location, with several cities having hosted the series already (Lyon, La Rochelle, Berlin and Ljubljana). “Le Corps de la ville” explores everyday architectural heritage and forgotten, abandoned spaces, encouraging audiences to view them differently.

This project is designed to bring people together by running collaborative creative workshops involving amateurs. The films explore dancers’ bodies but also highlight urban space both new and old. New for season three is the intergenerational dimension, with high school students from Lycée Dautet “sharing the stage” with residents from the retirement home Le Plessis and young dancers from Mireuil and Port-Neuf. These workshops, overseen by Nicolas Habas and several choreographers, question our relationship with urban space in radically changing neighbourhoods. The films for the entire web series can be found on the platform

Working closely with several local associations and the studio Un Poil Court, the festival decided to act as general coordinator for “Le Corps de la ville” in La Rochelle. The music for this episode of the series was composed by Pierre Bertrand and recorded and produced at the studio Alhambra in Rochefort thanks to a partnership with Cristal Publishing.

With funding from DRAC Nouvelle-Aquitaine, ENGIE, the foundation Fiers de Nos Quartiers, the General Commission for Territorial Equality (CGET), the Combined District Council of La Rochelle (Communauté d’agglomération de La Rochelle), La Rochelle-Ré-Aunis hospital complex, and Lycée Dautet. Run in cooperation with Un Poil Court, dance students from Lycée Dautet, the retirement home Le Plessis, Lucarte Danse, Cristal Publishing, and the community centre and Water Treatment Service in Port-Neuf.


Documentary-making workshop in Villeneuve-les-Salines

The festival has run workshops in this La Rochelle neighbourhood since 2010.

Working in close cooperation with various associations, in 2017 the festival enlisted around 20 local youths to work on a documentary with Vincent Lapize.

This project allowed them to discover the work of film and audiovisual technicians and also introduced them to the different stages involved in writing and filming a documentary.

With funding from DRAC Nouvelle-Aquitaine, the General Commission for Territorial Equality (CGET), the Combined District Council of La Rochelle, and the foundation Fiers de Nos Quartiers.

Run jointly with ADEI 17; the Collectif des associations de Villeneuve-les-Salines; Horizon Habitat jeunes; Mission locale / Garantie jeunes (a community aid project helping young people access training and jobs); Villeneuve-les-Salines community centre; the multimedia library and games library in Villeneuve-les-Salines; and Le Comptoir.


Off-site film screenings

The festival regularly organises screenings around the Charente-Maritime region. This includes previews held in June at partner cinemas (the Gallia in Saintes and the Eden in Saint-Jean-d'Angély), and a series of film screenings and meet-and-greets organised in November in partnership with Charente-Maritime County Council on the theme of “Music and Film”. The festival is also part of the “Festival des Festivals”, a Charente-Maritime event held in August.

Download the “Music and Film” educational document (French only)

With funding from Charente-Maritime County Council.


Artist residencies and creative productions

Commissioning of a documentary on La Rochelle cathedral

In 2014, acting on a proposal from Max Boisrobert, the cathedral’s curator, Nathalie Benhamou from DRAC Poitou-Charentes contacted the festival to commission a documentary to raise awareness of this important monument among inhabitants of the city. The making of this poetic film was entrusted to the director José Luis Guerín, himself the subject of a festival tribute in 2013.

A small group of film students from Lycée Merleau-Ponty helped prepare and film the documentary. They assisted the crew and made a behind-the-scenes documentary on the making of the film.

The students were able to learn about the filmmaking process from a particularly talented professional and discover the constraints involved in working on a commission.

The film was co-produced with Perspective Films, with financing from DRAC Poitou-Charentes, the National Centre for Cinematography (CNC), CINE+, Poitou-Charentes Regional Council, Charente-Maritime County Council (funding for filming), La Rochelle City Council and Institut Ramon-Llull. Produced with the help of the Centre des Monuments Nationaux, the Diocese of La Rochelle/Saintes, Centre Intermondes and Lycée Merleau-Ponty in Rochefort.


Creation of film-concerts

Since 2007 the festival has regularly commissioned original new music to accompany certain films. Each of these film-concerts is performed once or twice in La Rochelle and then at other festivals. Following in the footsteps of Olivier Mellano, Radiomentale, Chapi Chapo et les Petites Musiques de Pluie, Christine Ott, Orval Carlos Sibelius, Aquaserge and Forever Pavot, and Invaders, Arnaud Fleurent-Didier created original new music to accompany The Ring by Alfred Hitchcock.

With funding from the Society of Authors, Composers and Publishers of Music (Sacem). Co-produced by La Rochelle International Film Festival and bulCiné (Nantes).


Hosting of film industry professionals

Professional events

Film industry professionals have long made a habit of convening in La Rochelle at one of the many professional events organised by the festival:

  • Agence pour le Cinéma Indépendant et sa Diffusion (ACID)
  • Association des Cinémas de l’Ouest de Recherche (ACOR) 
  • Agence pour le Développement Régional du Cinéma (ADRC)
  • Association Française des Cinémas d'Art et Essai (AFCAE)
  • Groupement des Ciné-clubs du Sud-Ouest
  • Groupement National des Cinémas de Recherche (GNCR)
  • Rencontres de l’association Territoires et Cinéma
  • Rencontres Nationales des Pôles d'Education à l'Image
  • Syndicat des Cinémas d’Art de Répertoire et d’Essai (SCARE)


Links with other festivals in France and overseas

Throughout the year the festival’s organisers attend other events in France and overseas in order to select films, initiate new partnerships and sit on juries. In return, the organisers of these festivals are then invited to La Rochelle in July.