By Cedric Nithard
It is an appointment now well established at Montpellier. the What A Trip will take place from September 21 to 25. A new time the international adventure travel film festival invites to escape and to Discovery. For this 6th editionthe organizers have reserved surprises and novelties.
Created seven years ago by a dozentravel-loving friends gathered around Romain Tarrussonthe What A Trip festival has grown with now 210 volunteers in the organizing association. In five editions, 143,000 visitors were welcomed, including 43,000 in 2019 before the pandemic and 29,000 in 2021. “This 6th edition will break the codes” announces Romain Tarrusson, summarizing the ambition of the festival: exhibitions, screenings, meetings with adventurers, conferences, workshops, concerts…”.
A new place
The first notable change is the travel villagethe nerve center of the festival, moves from the Charles de Gaulle esplanade at the Royal Peyrou esplanade. If the change seemed motivated by the work of the renovation of the Place de la Comédiethis is not the case according to Roger-Yannick Chartier, delegate for local shops, crafts and tourism: “For the City, the Metropolis and the CCI, it is a question of discover new spaces with also the idea of reinforcing the commercial attractiveness and the establishment of the festival in all the cultural places to revalorize them. We used the pretext of the works but it was to take you elsewhere,” he told the organisers.
The royal esplanade of Peyrou being the first location chosen by Romain Tarrusson, he sees his wish granted for this 6th edition. “It’s a great challenge and a very nice setting. This is a dream. When I thought of the festival, I saw it at Peyrou. It was suggested to me at the beginning to start with a smaller one, therefore at the Esplanade Charles de Gaulle. That’s it, we’re landing at Peyrou ”.
The Travel Village will therefore be reinventing itself to offer a new experience to visitors in an area of 20,000 m2 : entertainment, advice on destinations, food-trucks, wellness area, agencies, tourist offices… Among the new features, a intimate mini-conference area on the theme of sustainable travel.
Throughout the Ecusson and beyond
In addition to the Travel Village, the festival will shine in the Ecusson and beyond with around twenty exhibitions spread over around fifteen places: Maison des Relations Internationales, Orangerie du Jardin des Plantes, Uston mansion, Montpellier airport , castle of Castries, town hall of Juvignac…
Participating in the attractiveness of the Badge, the festival is supported by the CCI Hérault. “What a Trip helps to energize the city center of Montpellier and bring in new audiences around a project that makes sense” welcomed its president André Deljarry. A “travel line” will run through and cover rue de la loge, rue Saint-Guilhem and boulevard du Jeu de Paume and exhibitions will be presented in the windows and inside several shops. Finally, as was the case for Stopover in Sète for example, Destination Hérault app will highlight the festival.
Screenings and a new price
The Rabelais center will always host the screenings of the films which will be presented by the marine biologist, faithful to the festival since its inception, Laurent Ballesta. For this 6th edition, 26 films will be screened, including 12 in competition with five prizes at stake. Films, almost half of which highlight adventurers or are worn by female directors, thus showing the way to travel to other women. A message that the festival also wishes to convey.
As has been the case since 2020, when the organizers had to adapt to the pandemic, in addition to theatrical screenings, the films will be available for live streaming and replay from September 19 to October 10. New event for this edition, four award-winning films from previous years will be shown in the screening room of the Musée Fabre.
Two new prizes
In September, 200 students from primary to high school will watch four short films at the Nestor Burma cinema. A kit will allow teachers to lead debates to award the young public prize during the closing ceremony of the festival.
In addition to documentaries, What A Trip is also interested in books and is setting up a travelogue award. Twelve works have been selected by the La Géosphère bookstore and a jury chaired by Stéphane Dugast, secretary general of the Society of French Explorers, will reward the best at the opening of the festival.
A committed festival
The What A Trip defends a base of values - sharing, tolerance and respect for the environment – put into practice during the festival.
“Through the discovery of other cultures, we want to encourage the acceptance of others. For us, this is the basis of everything and of a society that evolves healthily” emphasizes Romain Tarrusson. Committed to passing it on to new generations, the festival offers schoolchildren educational screenings, guided tours… For the first time, the Travel Village will be entirely dedicated to schoolchildren, from primary to high school, on Friday 23 September. In partnership with the CROUS, via the Yoot device, tickets at a preferential rate for screenings will be offered to the most disadvantaged students.
For three years now, the festival, a member of the 1% For The Planet movement, has donated 1% of ticket sales to associations working to preserve the environment. In the Village du voyage, a Blue Zone will be dedicated to associations and actors involved in the preservation of the seas and oceans.
This year, festival-goers will be able to donate the deposit from their plastic cup to the Spark Association, which supports women with cancer. Unsold food from food trucks will be donated to homeless people by Delivrue volunteers. Set up last year, the partnership had made it possible to deliver more than 200 meals. The Compostons association will collect the bio-waste generated during the festival to recycle them in its urban farm.
Among the films screened, one will have a very special impact by presenting behind the scenes of the rescue of migrants by the association SOS Méditerranée.
Finally, the festival is working with the Elemen’Terre association to set up a regional eco-responsible event label with the aim of facilitating the implementation of a concrete eco-responsible approach to cultural, sporting or leisure events in Occitania. . If 17 festivals participate in this project, the What A Trip will be a pilot by setting up no less than 137 points to be respected.
A sponsor and the jury
For this 6th edition, the festival will be sponsored by adventurer and explorer Mike Horn. Unfortunately on an expedition during the What A Trip, he sent a support video in which he promises to be present next year in Montpellier to share his many experiences. A nice surprise for the organizers.
As every year, a jury will have the difficult task of deciding between the twelve films in competition. If two other members will be unveiled in September, we already know that the navigator and president of the WWF Isabelle Autissier, the journalist and head of travel-tourism publishing on Europe 1 Vanessa Zha and the adventurer suffering from fibromyalgia (disease recognized by WHO but not by Social Security…) Violette Duval. On the latter, Romain Tarrusson underlines: “She has done several trips around the world and is quite incredible. It was important to us to have him by our side. She’s not a big celebrity but she’s very inspiring.”
Entertainment and concerts
Epicenter of What a Trip, the Village du voyage is the place to meet directors, adventurers, members of the jury… Visitors will be able to take advantage of 24 conferences, more than thirty workshops and fifty exhibitors. Note that 90% of the activities offered by the festival are free.
As soon as night falls, festival-goers will meet every evening from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. in front of the P’tite Scène for a series of free concerts. The singer Marianne Omac has already been announced with around forty singers and Guts for a dj set which should turn the royal esplanade of Peyrou upside down.
In addition to the festival
In partnership with the network of media libraries of the Montpellier metropolis, the What A Trip festival, through its volunteers who will select the works presented, is preparing a major exhibition entitled Voyages which will take place from December to February.
Also in preparation. After having hosted the Be Proud exhibition by LGBT artist and activist Olivia Ciappa, who is also a sponsor of the Pride March, throughout the summer, Montpellier City Hall will open its doors in December to an exhibition dedicated to SOS. Mediterranean.
Finally, through its activity and its influence, the What a Trip festival is fully in line with the candidacy of Montpellier European Capital of Culture 2028. Traveler or host, the spirit is the same.
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Montpellier: the What A Trip festival moves to Peyrou and is full of new things