Since 2003, the “On Set with French Cinema” program has given French movie directors the opportunity to lead master classes in some of the United States’ most prestigious East and West Coast universities. At these events, held in October and November each year, these directors share their experiences as filmmakers, directors of actors, screenwriters, and producers with future American movie industry professionals.
The first program was held from October 6 through November 21, 2003. Régis Wargnier, Patrice Leconte, and Agnès Varda met with students at the following West Coast universities: the American Film Institute (AFI), California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), the University of California (UCLA), and the University of Southern California (USC). Claude Miller, Patrice Chéreau, Cédric Klapisch, and Catherine Breillat met with students from the following East Coast universities: the City College of New York (CCNY), Columbia University, New York University (NYU), and the School of Visual Arts (SVA). Screenings were also organized in partnership with MOMA in New York, and the American Film Library in Los Angeles, with the French filmmakers in attendance.
The event’s second edition, held from October 18 through November 22, 2004, was expanded to include additional universities: the San Francisco State University (SFSU) and Stanford University on the West Coast; as well as Columbia College in Chicago, Northwestern University, and Ohio State University on the East Coast. Luc Besson, Jean-Paul Rappeneau, and Jean-Pierre Jeunet traveled to the West Coast universities, while Benoit Jacquot, Claire Denis, and Olivier Assayas met with students at the East Coast universities. Event screenings were also organized in honor of each of the directors in New York (Lincoln Center), Los Angeles (the Egyptian Theatre and the Aero Theatre), San Francisco, and Chicago.
For the first time in 2005, "On Set with French Cinema" was also held in Germany, in the months of April and May. This event brought four French filmmakers – Cédric Klapisch, Noémie Lvovsky, Tonie Marshall, and Bertrand Tavernier – to the following Film Schools: the DFFB in Berlin, the KHM in Cologne, the HFF in Munich, and the HFF in Potsdam. As a sidebar to the meetings with students, public screenings were held in the presence of the French directors, at the Kino Arsenal cinema in Berlin, the Arri Kino in Munich and at Off Broadway in Cologne.
2005 also saw the American program of "On Set with French Cinema," which took place from October 17 through November 18. Six French directors – Laurent Cantet, Arnaud Desplechin, Bruno Dumont, Cédric Klapisch, Jan Kounen, and Bertrand Tavernier traveled to 11 universities in 4 American cities: New York (New York University, Columbia University, the School of Visual Arts, Yale University), Boston (Harvard University), Los Angeles (the American Film Institute, UCLA, USC and CalArts), and San Francisco (Stanford University and San Francisco State University). As in Germany, public screenings were held outside the framework of the master classes, at cinemas in New York (Lincoln Center, MOMA, and the Museum of the Moving Image), Boston (Harvard Film Archives), Los Angeles (American Film Library), and San Francisco (Rafael Film Center).