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French documentarist captures Gator Nation on film

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Posted: Wednesday, September 1, 2010 12:51 am | Updated: 12:54 am, Wed Sep 1, 2010.

He came all the way from France to experience an American college campus, but he didn’t expect all the food.

“In France, there is usually one big boring restaurant for students to eat at,” Matthieu Fauroux said.  “[Here] people are snacking all the time. The ‘freshman 15,’ I believe it.”

Fauroux, a staff reporter for TF1, a major French television station, traveled all the way to the U.S.  to film a documentary about UF.

He has been exploring campus — and sampling Gainesville restaurants — since Aug. 17,   following students and athletes in an attempt to capture the essence of The Gator Nation.

“I want to introduce the French audience to an American campus,” Fauroux said.

Fauroux said he chose UF because of its national and international recognition for academics and athletics.

“Everything is at the highest level in one place. It’s so exciting for us,” Fauroux said.

He said he has been focusing part of his documentary on French students at UF and exploring the opportunities available to them.

Fauroux said UF is a renowned school in France. He and his cameraman, Aurelien Chapalain, have until Sept. 12 to complete the documentary.

“It has been a dream for a long time to work abroad,” Fauroux said.

American and French universities are very different, he said. Fauroux and Chapalain get lost on UF’s sprawling campus every day.

He said he’s also had a hard time finding a parking spot.

The 85-minute documentary will cost at least 50,000 euros to produce and will only be shown in France; however, UF students will be able to order a limited number of DVDs upon request.

Fauroux said the Gainesville community has been very welcoming and willing to help him with his film. Compared to some of his French sources, UF students are not at all camera shy. “Everyone opened their door,” Fauroux said.

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