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Culture in France


France is a hub of culture, and of all kinds of art. Whether in Paris or beyond, Culture in France, relays the latest performance events.


Paris, France




France is a hub of culture, and of all kinds of art. Whether in Paris or beyond, Culture in France, relays the latest performance events.






116, Avenue du Président Kennedy Paris, France 1 5640 1212 / 2907


Who stole Goya's head? A new documentary asks questions about the treatment of artists

Vying for a prize in the Fipadoc international competition category in Biarritz in January 2019 is Oscuros y Lucientes. Madrid director Samuel Alarcon's second film digs into the mystery surrounding Goya's lost head. Despite the serious subject, Alarcon raised a few laughs during the film's French première. The body of the great Spanish artist was exhumed some 30 years after his burial in the French city of Bordeaux in 1828. The Spanish consul in the mid-19th century was having the emigré's remains repatriated. When the grave was opened, Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes' head had been removed. Mixing art history, history of science and an eye for the extraordinary within the ordinary, in today's cities of Bordeaux, Madrid and others, Alarcon's story unfolds gradually and leaves place for his own imagination as well as the spectator's. "This gives the sensation that a lot of amazing stories are happening all the time." A cluster of open umbrellas moves away like a dark grey cloud from a statue of the head of Goya as the film gets underway, like Magritte for cinema. It's not the only almost surreal image conjured by Alarcon as figures move across the screen in synch with the first person narration who addreses Goya. "As Goya is dead, it's a way to get Goya alive!" Bringing alive the mood of Goya's paintings and drawings, Oscuros y Lucientes is as strong on research as it is on personal filmmaking and artistic approach


'Caravaggio in Rome' - Paris museum hosts rare exhibition

Caravaggio in Rome: Friends and Foes is a compact yet intense exhibition running at The Jacquemart-André Museum in Paris. Some of the most important works of the early 17th-century Italian painter, as well as those of his peers and his disciples, are on display. The exhibition explores the painters' milieu, highlighting themes like music, games, romance and religion. RFI's Rosslyn Hyams speaks to Pierre Curie, curator of the Jacquemart-André Museum and co-curator of Caravaggio in Rome.


Giacometti's rough-edged frailty on show in Paris

Paris's Maillol Museum was founded in 1995 by Dina Vierny, a model and close associate for 19th and 20th-century sculptor Aristide Maillol. It is currently showing the works of Swiss artist Alberto Giacometti, along with several works by artists such as Maillol, Aguste Rodin and Germaine Richier. Interesting to compare. To listen to Rosslyn Hyams's radio report click on the arrow in the top right hand of the photo. Alberto Giacometti spent a lot of time in Paris, in his studio in Montparnasse, and his works have been more or less fashionable over the years since his death in 1966. Today he is considered as one of the most important sculptors of his generation. The exhibition at the Musée Maillol in association with the Giacometti Foundation, is laid out to enable an exploration of Giacometti's sculptures and drawing. In bright white spaces, the delicate heads in glass cubes look all the more vulnerable. How thin can a person be? Giacometti saw the human figure as frail, even cast in a solid metal like bronze. His rough-edged shapes contrast with the roundness and fullness of Maillol's works. Although Giacometti himself went through a period of more classical creation before formulating the style he is best-known for.. The Giacometti Foundation has picked pieces for this exhibition which show how Giacometti played with ancient art from North Africa, particularly Egypt, and Africa south of the Sahara, which corresponded to his times and remains strikingly adapted to tastes today. The exhibition runs till March 2019.


Paris exhibition maps out post-WWI turmoil in the east

An exhibition that is part of the French centenary commemorations for the end of World War I provides a fascinating historical and geographical eye-opener, centred on the peace treaties signed after the war and what came next in central and eastern Europe, as well as in the Middle East. The Museum of the Armies, set in Paris's imposing Invalides complex built in the 17th century under Louis XIV, has brought together rare documents and artefacts, parts of uniforms or weapons, propaganda tools like posters from some 20 collections in France and Europe, east and west. The museum's film department has joined Gaumont-Pathé in digging out and restored some rarely seen footage. As part of the many events being organised in France this year for the centenary of the end of World War I, on 11 November 2018, the exhibition sheds light on the lesser known consequences of the devastating war on countries west of France and Italy. Without ignorng the suffering of the soldiers and their families in the Flanders fields, the exhibition, put together by military historians and geographers, looks at what happened after the fall of four great empires, the Russian, Ottoman, Austro-Hungarian and German. It shifts the historical emphasis to the east and reveals that after the signing of the Treaty of Versailles on 28 June 1919 conflict and crises were not over. Geographically, the show moves from the treaty room on to Germany, Poland and the Baltic States and Russia. It pursues its course in Mitteleuropa, Austria, Hungary, Romania, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, Slovenes and Albania. The last room's focus is on the Levant, on Greece, Turkey, Syria and Lebanon (including Sykes-Picot sketches and a costume worn by TE Lawrence, known as Lawrence of Arabia). Visitors can take in European border changes in the first room, since the 13th century. Then they can contemplate the question of nationalities and borders, revolutions, counter-revolutions, civil wars and civilian casualties. Finally they can examine the role of France, a country which emerged as a military power to be reckoned with, whose ambassadors and soldiers were highly influential in reestablishing stability.


Films ‘Shock Corridor’ and ‘Day of the Outlaw’ adapted on stage

At the National Drama Centre in Montreuil, a suburb east of Paris, director Mathieu Bauer's double-bill Nuit Américaine adapts two US movies for the stage. Bauer says it's like "diving into the history of cinema and of the US" at the same time. Click on the arrow in the top right-hand of the photo to listen to the RFI English Culture in France broadcast on 17 October 2018, and hear actors Clément Barthelet and Rémi Fortin talk about their experiences in the plays. Plays and literature are more often adapted to the screen rather than vice versa. French director Mathieu Bauer thinks differently. He draws all the elements of stage, not least of all illusion, to pull off an entertaining and thought-provoking double-bill. He began with Samuel Fuller's 1963 Shock Corridor, set in a mental hospital, as a project for the students of the National Theatre School in Strasbourg (TNS) and which has matured naturally over the past three years. The same crew work with Bauer, and his accomplices/musicians Sylvain Cartigny and Joseph Dahan, on the second show, Western. It’s an almost word-for-word adaptation of the 1959 script for The Day of the Outlaw set in the 19th century. The music score changes somewhat. Together, the André de Toth-inspired work and Shock Corridor span almost a century of American history. Bauer chose these films for their focus on certain American social and political issues which were red hot at the time, or are still burning and simmering today. The young French actors embrace aspects of the American “un-dream” with energy and imagination, and carry spectators away with them and their youthful enthusiasm. La Nuit Américaine, Bauer's double-bill, is going on tour in France after their last night in Montreuil on 26 October 2018. At the time of writing neither play has subtitles. Here are the dates so far: 9 November 2018 Scène nationale de Sète et du bassin de Thau 19 January 2019 Théâtre du Gymnase, Marseille 24 - 26 January 2019 Théâtre de La Croix-Rousse, Lyon 1 February 2019 Le Granit, Scène nationale, Belfort 12 & 13 March 2019 La Comédie de Clermont-Ferrand


Central and east Africa and other hotspots in photos in Bayeux

Rosslyn Hyams visits powerful exhibitions of photos taken in central and east Africa, mainly of refugees and internally displaced people near and on the borders of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where long-awaited elections are slated for December 2018.


From James Bond to Marie Antoinette - films shot at the Vaux Le Vicomte palace

In this week's Culture in France, RFI's Rosslyn Hyams visits the Vaux le Vicomte Fait son Cinéma exhibition in the 17th Century palace and gardensnear Paris. The grounds and rooms have featured in some 50 movies over the past half-century since opened to the public in 1968, a revolutionary year. Click on the arrow on the photo to hear the feature. US director Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette (2005) was shot in part at Vaux le Vicomte, as was French stage and film director Ariane Mnouchkine's Molière (1977), along with at least two films directed by French veteran film maker Bertrand Tavernier, including Que la Fête Commence (1974), and Milos Forman's 1988 Valmont. More recently, Vaux le Vicomte, also popular for its Year-End decorations and festivities, hosted the shoot of Dany Boon's comedy Raid Dingue (2016), and the TV historical drama series, Versailles devised and directed by Simon Mirren and David Wolstencroft. The exhibition, Vaux le Vicomte fait son cinéma which runs until 4 November combines 17th century French history, with the excitement of finding out how films are made, from costumes and make up to special effects. As Vaux le Vicomte has hosted many shoots, it seemed like a good idea tothe owners, the de Vogüé family and their team who help run the site, to reveal some of the secrets of cinema. The history of Vaux Le Vicomte is in itself intriguing. It begins with rivalry and surprises pitching powerful public figures in 17th century France, including those very close to King Louis IVXth, against the Sun King. More discretely, in the old kitchens, under the ground floor, you can see the original storyboard for the 2016 film Raid Dingue, The series of drawings serve as a blue print for the director and his team, showing camera angles, entrances and exits and such, but are works of art in their own right. Next door, a bluescreen adventure in a hot-air balloon basket over the palace and its gardens awaits budding actors and actresses and directors, complete with sound effects of the wind and tweeting birds. 360° virtual reality headgear and stools in the central hall of the palace puts visitors in the place of an actor at the banquet table, with the film crew looking on from behind, don't forget to swivel. You can marvel at props and costumes used in Moonraker, one of the most popular James Bond films, made in 1979 with the late Roger Moore as 007. The chateau is making the 50 kilometre trip from Paris even more like an amusement park day-out with the chance to win a ride in a helicopter, just like James Bond. Although the winners are not expected to pull off the same stunts as in the Moonraker aerial scenes, just sit tight and marvel at the exceptional aerial view.


Paris museum's fresh look at the legacy of performer-rights campaigner Paul Robeson

Culture in France this week climbs to a niche in the Quai Branly-Jacques Chirac museum in Paris, for a small but powerful exhibition about the life and times of Afro-American international actor, singer, rights campaigner, Paul Robeson. "Paul's influence, along with others, was massive, even if he's not talked about so much these days," remarks Paris-based US Opera Singer Howard Haskin. Paul Robeson and his wife Eslanda Goode, a scientist and rights campaigner, were part of a generation of Black, or African, Americans who were trail blazers in the 20th century. Robeson. They fought for equal rights, at home and abroad, and beyond skin colour or race. The exhibition at the Quai Branly-Jacques Chirac museum shows him as a multi-faceted man of the world, cosmopolitan and outreaching, a sort of "man for everyman and everywoman". He was part of a pan-Africanist movement which stretched from the US and Caribbean to England, Africa and the Soviet Union, and as well as being a gifted man, he was an advocate of humanity. The objects, photos and information panels explain his political and social interests. Archival sound recordings are marked with age, and are valuable witnesses to his courage and openness as well as too his talent. The exhibition curated by Sarah Frioux-Salgas runs till 14 October 2018.


Les Rencontres d'Arles - America Great Again

America Great Again was a major section of one of the biggest photography conventions in the world, held in the picturesque southern French town of Arles. Rosslyn Hyams reports on the higlights of Les Rencontres d'Arles, which runs until 23 September 2018. Listen to this week's Culture in France by clicking on the arrow on the photo. One of the biggest draws for photography fans, for history fans, for art fans, from all over the world, the 49th Rencontres d'Arles saw a six percent rise in the number of visitors during the first week of July, which was reserved for photographers or associated professions. In all 18,500 people visited in the first week alone. In September there's less of a crush to explore the works of top ranking international photographers, old and new, working across all styles. Among the various awards at Les Rencontres this year, the event's 20,000-euro Discovery Prize went to Dutch photographer Paulien Oltheten for his works on the La Défense business district of Paris. And the work of two of Culture in France guests earlier in the year, UK-based South Africans Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin, was acknowledged for their book War Primer 2. It is based on the first English-language version of Bertolt Brecht’s 1955 Kriegsfibel, which combined press photographs from the world wars with short poems in an attack on war and war propaganda. Broomberg and Chanarin researched internet images to show how contemporary conflict is reported and misreported.


Paris summer festival offers culture for all ... for free

Still a busy cosmopolitan city, Paris winds down in the summer. But in July the annual performing arts festival, Paris l'été, occupies some of the spaces vacated by schoolchildren and holidaymaking Parisians in public buildings and outdoors, including one of the municipal swimming pools. As if France's winning the football World Cup wasn't exciting enough, Paris was gearing up for the opening events in the Paris summer festival on the very day President Emmanuel Macron celebrated the victory with the national team at the Elysée palace. Now the festival is up and running, jumping and even moving very slowly (in Johann Guillerm's Transhumant for example). Indoor and outdoor cultural events, peforming arts and installations or "happenings" are organised by the city in 28 different venues in and around the capital until 4 August. Cue for international cooperation, fraternity and bridgebuilding. As well as showcasing French talent, some shows are from Belgium, Burkina Faso and Japan. On Wednesday night a special, free entry, Paris-Lisboa concert was held in the square in front of the Hôtel de Ville (City Hall) featuring music talent from France and Portugal. As a symbol of the 20-year-old Friendship Pact between Paris and Lisbon, the festival invited Sara Tavares, Hoshi, Capicua, Paris Combo and the Portuguese-Mozambican star of Fado, Mariza. High culture or pop music, the festival aims to first and foremost entertain but if it adds a little food for thought, that's more than a coincidence.


Revived Paris Arab Cinemas Festival rewards emerging talent

A festival of cinema from the Middle East and Gulf, organised by, and at, the Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris has been revived. The 10-day Festival des Cinémas Arabes programmed films from across the Arabic-culture countries, giving a boost to the Institute's regular cinema programme. At a lively ceremony at the Institut on 8 July, prizes rewarded emerging talents especially. The Festival des Cinémas Arabes awards at the Arab World Institute (IMA) in Paris were as follows: Fiction category: AffabilityLand Of Our FathersThe JourneyThe LunchBenzineThe LunchThe JourneyDocumentary category:- And an Image was BornSculpting in timeTrain-trains 2 : A Bypass


Olivier Py addresses the challenges of this year's Avignon Festival

The Avignon Festival is one of the biggest collective annual theatre events in Europe. The programme will see the whole spectrum of performing arts take place in and around the south-eastern French region. In this week's Culture in France, RFI's Rosslyn Hyams talks to festival director Olivier Py and some of the artists whose work has marked the first of the three week-long international showing.


What's happening at the Champs-Elysées film festival

The Champs-Elysées film festival is underway at some of the many cinema halls on and around the famous Parisian avenue. The festival focus is American and French independent cinema. One of its highlights are its retrospectives. One of the special guests is British actor Tim Roth. A man of many faces, and even an ape's as RFI's Rosslyn Hyams reports in this month's Culture in France. Roth's full interview with RFI can be heard on RFI Soundcloud. The 7th Champs-Elysées film festival runs competitions for feature and short films, French and US, and some coproductions. Results at the closing ceremony on Tuesday, June 19. Here's a list of movies in the running: US Features 1985Hale County This MorninMadeline's MadelineMy Name is MyeishaSollers Point - BaltimoreTyrelFrench Features 68, mon père et les clousCassandro, The Exotico !Contes de JuilletFunanLa trajectoire du homardNaufragé volontaireUS Shorts AbsentAfter/LifeAgua VivaCarolineDisintegration 93-96Great ChoiceHair WolfReady for LoveSkip DayThe Shivering TruthFrench Shorts Allonge ta fouléeBut You Look So GoodDe NaturaHuitLe mal bleuOrdaliePlus fort que moiPokeSilence


Au Fil du Siècle tapestry exhibition weaves French history in colour since WW1

In this week's Culture in France, Christiane Naffah-Bayle curator of an exhibition of official French tapestry called 'Au Fil du Siècle' - 'A Century-long-thread' talks about textile works which have recorded French history, art and social trends from 1918 up till today. Some of the best pieces in the collection of the famous Manufacture des Gobelins, from 1918 up to today, are showcased in the Galerie de Gobelins until September 2018.


Bringing Middle Eastern food to the heart of Paris

Two Syrian cooks living in France offer a unique take on classic recipes from the Levant. Inspired by memories of their childhood in Aleppo and Damascus respectively, their food creations also bear a marked French influence. Myriam Sabet, owner and founder of Maison Aleph in the Marais neighbourhood of Paris opened her patisserie shop in July 2017. People from Tokyo, Los Angeles, Astana or Berlin stop by to taste her pastries and ice creams (only in summer), infused with Middle Eastern flavours - citron, mastic, sumac, orange blossom, to name but a few. "My creations come from what I would like to make people [here] discover," she explains. "For example, we're going to mix tamarind with almond paste; we're going to work zaatar with chocolate and peach. The idea always is to procure pleasure and if, at the same time, our clients discover new flavours, the deal is done." Maison Aleph’s recipe of Sesame Halva 1001 Feuilles By Myriam Sabet, Paris. Preparation: about one hour Chilling and baking: about 3 1/2 hours Yield: about 35 squares For the filling For the layers To make the filling: Working with a mixer (preferably fitted with a paddle attachment), beat the butter, halvah and tahini together on medium speed for about 3 minutes. Add the confectioners’ sugar, cornstarch and salt and mix on low for 2 minutes more. One by one, add the eggs, beating for a minute after each goes in; you’ll have a thick, smooth, shiny mixture (think mayonnaise). Stir in the sesame seeds. Scrape the filling into a bowl, cover and refrigerate for 1 hour (or for up to 2 days; longer is better than shorter). To build the layers: Lay the phyllo out on a piece of plastic wrap and cover with a damp kitchen towel. Always keep the towel moistened – the dough dries in a flash. Brush the interior of a rimmed baking sheet (12x17 inches) with clarified butter. Place a sheet of dough in the pan, brush with butter and dust lightly with confectioners’ sugar (use about 2 tablespoons sugar per sheet). Continue until you’ve made 14 layers. Spread the filling evenly over the top and then continue making layers with the remaining dough. Butter and sugar the top layer (you’ll have some butter leftover; hold on to it). Refrigerate the set-up for at least 30 minutes (or cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day). Center a rack in the oven and preheat it to 180°C/350°F/Gas6. Using a pizza cutter (best) or sharp knife, trim the edges (don’t remove them), then cut as many 2-inch squares as possible, cutting all the way through the layers. Scatter the sesame seeds over the top. Bake for about 40 minutes, rotating the pan after 20 minutes, until the top is beautifully golden. Transfer to a cooling rack and lightly brush with some of the reserved butter. Place a piece of parchment or foil over the surface, top with another baking pan and press evenly and firmly to compact the layers. Re-cut the squares, so they’ll be easy to lift out. Let them sit for 2 to 3 hours before serving (discard or nibble the trimmed edges). Stored tightly covered, the squares will keep at room temperature for about 2 days. Syrian Food Concept Emad Shoshara, known as Chef Emad, came to France in 2015, after leaving Syria in 2012. Food being his passion since he was a little boy hanging around his mother's kitchen in Damascus, earning a living as a cook was an obvious choice. The 35-year-old chef experiments in what he describes as "Syrian food concept", combining Syrian recipes with ingredients and techniques from France and elsewhere. "Here [I use] the same basis as the Syrian cuisine but I adapt it with French ingredients and the way the French people like to eat it," he explains. "For example, French people like to talk when they eat, they take one hour to eat something that takes [other people] five minutes. So, it's not just eating something, it's sharing food and talking about food. That's why I present my food in a French way." His next project is to launch a venue that will...


Remembering La Belle Ouvrage of Mai 68 during Cannes Director's Fortnight

The Quinzaine des Réalisateurs, The Directors' Fortnight opens on Wednesday, 9 May, 2018 in Cannes. In its 50th anniversary year, RFI's Rosslyn Hyams looks at one the documentaries from the first Quinzaine in 1969, a documentary which harks back to the origins of the parallel programme.


France May 68: the art of revolution

Political posters with slogans like "It's forbidden to forbid" or "Under the paving stones, the beach" were a driving force in the May 68 Paris uprisings. The vast majority were designed and printed at Paris's Beaux-Arts (Fine Arts school) by the Atelier Populaire collective. Fifty years on, the school is showing that art work at the Images en Lutte exhibition. This exhibition on the visual culture of the far left from 1968 to 1974 includes posters, painting, sculptures, films, photos, tracts. It begins with the major demonstrations against the war in Vietnam and ends in 1974 following the coup d'Etat in Chile and the dissolution of the Maoist Proletarian Left party in France. But, while it is still unclear whether there will be any official recognition of the 50th anniversary of massive protests and strikes that nearly brought down President Charles de Gaulle and his government, it's the political art work done by the Atelier populaire that's grabbing headlines. From 5 May to 28 June, students and teachers from l'Ecole des Beaux-Arts worked day and night producing posters to further the cause of seven million striking workers. Posters with slogans like "Your boss needs you, you don't need him", "Run comrade, the old world is behind you" and "Barricades close the street but open the way" were plastered on university walls, factories and shops. The art work is "the product of a political struggle but it's also participating in the struggle itself", says art historian and curator Eric de Chessay. "They used the studios to produce posters for the revolution. People actually thought that revolution was not for tomorrow, that it was immediate and that the whole power would be completely defeated." Many posters protested against General Charles de Gaulle "showing him as a dictator, aligning him with [Francisco] Franco or [Antonio de Oliveira] Salazar or Petros Markaris, the dictators of Spain, Portugal and Greece," de Chessay explains. "His hand raised as if he were a fascist leader." Public broadcasting (ORTF) was banned from filming the Paris protests for fear they would encourage others, so many posters denounced the state of the press as a mouthpiece for the government. And, because the strike action was not being relayed by the official press, factory workers relied on the Atelier populaire to fill in the gap. One recurring image is of the factory shed, with its chimney transformed into a clenched fist. De Chessay says it's far more complex that it looks. "The shed factory with the fist is combining diverse sources so you have the typical factory of early 20th century with the sheds which is coming from the Front Populaire [Popular Front] 1936 imagery and you have the clenched fist which is a typical image of the Communist Party. But the way it’s drawn here is more reminiscent of what’s happening in the image of the Maoist movement." Anonymous, collective artwork While some famous young artists living in Paris at the time (Eduardo Arroyo, Julio Le Parc...) contributed to the Atelier and French artists like Martial Raysse returned from abroad to paint, the artwork was not signed. "The whole production is both anonymous and collective," says de Chessay. "It’s a collective creation in the sense that someone would draw an image, sometimes would devise a slogan to go with it and sometimes the slogan was provided by someone else." The final result was presented to a committee for validation each evening. The most famous and telling example of this collaboration, according to de Chessay, is the poster showing anarchist Daniel Cohn-Bendit who led the student movement in Nanterre in March 68. It was submitted by Bernard Rancillac and shows Cohn-Bendit as shot by photographer Gilles Caron. Cohn-Bendit was German-born and Jewish, which led the far right and Communist Party leader Georges Marchais to use his origins to attack him, which in turn inspired demonstrators to reply with chants of "We're all Jewish and...


The Calais Jungle brings culture to the French capital

The Good Chance Theatre builds temporary theatres of hope promoting freedom of expression, creativity and dignity for everyone. It gives people the opportunity to express and empower themselves, to engage in dialogue and debate, and to experience the enriching and transformative power of art. They first set up in the Jungle in Calais in 2015. And now they've come to the French capital. Sophie Gorman has this report.


The Prisoner, Peter Brook's meditation on prison punishment

The Prisoner is a play co-written and directed by 93 year-old Peter Brook and Marie-Hélène Estienne. It's on until 24 March at the Bouffes du Nord Brook's old theatre where he also housed a theatre laboratory. In this week's Culture in France RFI's Rosslyn Hyams speaks to Brook about his play, and to Ery Nzaramba, who plays one of the main parts.


Exploring South African photography at the Paris Pompidou Centre

The Georges Pompidou Centre this spring is hosting three photographers from South Africa. David Goldblatt's critical work during apartheid and emigré South African photographers Oliver Chanarin and Adam Broomberg, in their conceptual work. RFI's Rosslyn Hyams has this report.