Festival features foreign flicks

By Meghan Cain

Samurais, wealthy Parisians and a warm-hearted gambler are making their home on screen at the Kentucky Theatre this week.

The fourth annual Rosa Goddard International Film Festival, which begins tonight and continues through Sept. 13, features a new foreign film every day, with two or three showings.

The festival is named after Rosa Goddard, a patron of the Kentucky Theatre and lover of international film and culture.

When Goddard’s great-niece Mary Ord moved to the Lexington area in the late 1980s, Goddard — a Plymouth, Mass., native who died in 2003 — jumped at the opportunity to see the Bluegrass, said Mary Kay Weymouth, Goddard’s niece.

“She attended the Kentucky Theatre and enjoyed the movies we played here,” said Fred Mills, the theater’s manager. “When she passed away, she put the Kentucky Theatre in her will with no strings attached. We could do whatever we saw fit to do with the money, and so we decided to recognize her with a yearly event.”

Goddard was passionate about world travel and theater, Weymouth said.

“Even when she went to Europe, she would go to the theater,” Weymouth said. “She would always pick the hotel in the theater district. She would go to the matinee in the afternoon and the theater at night. She liked live theater and movies.”

The international theme of the festival reflects Goddard’s passion for seeing the world, Weymouth said.

“I think she would be very happy with the theme,” Weymouth said. “She traveled extensively, and this is a nice way to remember her.”

This year, the festival is showing films from France, England, Germany, Spain, Brazil, Japan and the United States.

The festival is unique within the Lexington community, Mills said, adding that foreign-film events normally take place in big cities like New York and Los Angeles or on college campuses like New York University and the University of California at Berkeley.

“To be able to see these films in a movie-theater setting is special,” Mills said. “UK and Transy seem to be very receptive, and we try not to do it before school resumes.”

The Kentucky Theatre used to show more foreign films, Mills said, because the audience was more receptive to that genre.

“As the industry began to change, we began to change, and foreign films weren’t as available,” Mills said. “This opportunity (the festival) makes it possible for people to see films they once really liked or have never seen before. It gives younger people the chance to experience films that have lasted the test of time.”

The Goddard festival can broaden students’ horizons and can give them a chance to open their minds, Mills said.

“If you haven’t seen a movie with subtitles, this is a good place to see it. Give it a try, and don’t sell it short,” Mills said.

Show times can be found on the Kentucky Theatre’s Web site (www.kentuckytheatre.com). Tickets cost $5.