An­nual French lan­guage fes­ti­val cel­e­brated across China

Global Times – Metro Shanghai - - FRONT PAGE - Source: Con­sulate Gen­eral of France in Shang­hai

This year in China, the 22nd Fran­co­phonie Fes­ti­val is or­ga­nized in co­op­er­a­tion with 20 em­bassies and diplo­matic of­fices. It cel­e­brates the multi-faceted fran­co­phone cul­ture of North­ern Africa. It has cho­sen to high­light Tu­nisian cin­ema, Moroc­can gas­tron­omy and Al­ge­rian lit­er­a­ture.

In around 20 Chi­nese cities, through WeChat and in more than 11,000 karaoke bars, the French lan­guage will be cel­e­brated via a se­ries of cul­tural events and stu­dent con­tests. They have two new ad­di­tions to the fes­ti­val pro­gram this year: China’s first fran­co­phone drama con­test and a pro­gram on foot­ball.

An of­fi­cial lan­guage of the UN, the EU and the Olympic Games, French is the fifth most spo­ken lan­guage in the world, the third lan­guage of in­ter­na­tional af­fairs and the fourth lan­guage on the In­ter­net. Around 300 mil­lion speak­ers share with the French lan­guage its val­ues of sol­i­dar­ity, re­spect and tol­er­ance. The num­ber of French speak­ers con­tin­ues to in­crease to­ward an ex­pected 800 mil­lion peo­ple by 2050.

Jin Xing, Fran­co­phonie Fes­ti­val am­bas­sador said, “Speak­ing French means hold­ing a key to the cul­tures and peo­ples of Africa, Asia, North Amer­ica and, of course, Europe. That is why I want my chil­dren to be con­ver­sant in this lan­guage, rich in its di­ver­sity, its sto­ries and its val­ues.”

Jin is an icon in Chi­nese so­ci­ety rec­og­nized as an artist as well as an opin­ion leader. At a very young age she danced for the Peo­ple’s Lib­er­a­tion Army and pur­sued an in­ter­na­tional ed­u­ca­tion in the United States and in Europe where she learned French. She came back to China in 1995 where she laid the foun­da­tion of the first in­de­pen­dent dance com­pany, The Jin Xing Dance Theatre.

Eclec­ti­cism and beauty

In 2017, the Maghreb re­gion (North Africa) is in the spot­light, no­tably with the in­vi­ta­tion of the Al­ge­rian writer Boualem Sansal (pub­lished by SeaSky), au­thor of the an­tic­i­pa­tion-novel 2084, in­spired by Ge­orge Or­well’s mas­ter­piece 1984. Tu­nisian film Hédi, by Mo­hamed Ben At­tia (which won two awards at the 2016 Ber­lin Film Fes­ti­val), re­counts the love story be­tween a shy young man and an in­de­pen­dent woman, shortly after the Arab Spring.

Mor­roc­can chef Moha of fa­mous Mar­rakech restau­rant Dar Moha, also a ra­dio host, will come and teach his art to 20. The French lan­guage was rev­o­lu­tion­ized by the bril­liant singer Serge Gains­bourg, who also wrote mu­sic for Brigitte Bar­dot, Cather­ine Deneuve, Vanessa Par­adis and of course for his part­ner, Jane Birkin, with whom he formed one of the most iconic artis­tic cou­ples of the 20th cen­tury.

The cou­ple were be­hind the first pop con­cept al­bum, His­toire de Melody Nel­son. The al­bum cover pic­tures a young woman who would go on to be­come a sem­i­nal fash­ion icon, even lend­ing her name to a Her­mès bag (the ‘Birkin’). Both this and sev­eral other of Gains­bourg’s al­bum cov­ers were im­mor­tal­ized by his friend, the pho­tog­ra­pher Tony Frank, who is com­ing to China (Guangzhou, Bei­jing and Shenyang) to present his ex­hi­bi­tion, Serge Gains­bourg, and to share the story of their friend­ship.

Gains­bourg’s songs will also pro­vide the sound­track for Phillippe Cal­vario’s stag­ing of Mari­vaux’s fa­mous play, The Game of Love and Chance, which was first in­tro­duced in 1730 and be­came one of the most played theatre plays since then.

Aimed mainly at young peo­ple, the Fran­co­phonie is a cel­e­bra­tion of the eclec­ti­cism and beauty of the French lan­guage. Many com­pe­ti­tions are or­ga­nized for stu­dents, giv­ing them the chance to win trips to France, Switzer­land and Canada: The Pivot Dic­ta­tionm WeChat Game: a game that speaks to ev­ery­one, even be­gin­ners, and al­lows dis­cov­er­ing the French lan­guage, with many gifts to be won.

The 29 best play­ers will be se­lected for a fi­nal on March 20 in Bei­jing, where the dic­ta­tion will be read by Haitian-Que­be­cois writer and aca­demi­cian Dany La­fer­rière! Go to Faguowen­hua WeChat ac­count from March 1 to 31 to play:

- The Fran­co­phone singing com­pe­ti­tion, notable win­ners of which are the singers Lui Huan and Shang Wen­jie. Dur­ing the fes­ti­val, par­tic­i­pants can re­hearse in one of 11,000 karaoke sa­lons fea­tur­ing 120 French songs! To find a fran­co­phone KTV near you, down­load the KTVME app.

- The the­ater con­test for French uni­ver­si­ties and al­liances is to be held through­out China with a jury of Chi­nese and French celebri­ties from the the­ater world.

- The po­etry trans­la­tion com­pe­ti­tion, for learn­ers of French in China and po­etry lovers with five po­ems from the French-speak­ing Mediter­ranean world (Ta­har Ben Jel­loun, Yves Bon­nefoy, Salah Stetie).

Film & mu­sic

New in 2017, a fo­cus on soc­cer with Melody Donchet, freestyle foot­ball world cham­pion, and Lil­ian Thu­ram, World Cup cham­pion (1998), who cre­ated The Lil­ian Thu­ram Foun­da­tion, aim­ing at fight­ing against ev­ery kind of dis­crim­i­na­tion. The univer­sity pro­fes­sor Pas­cal Boni­face will be giv­ing a con­fer­ence se­ries on sports geopol­i­tics. The Fran­co­phone Cin­ema En­coun­ters will also screen two movies deal­ing with sports: The African Who Wanted to Fly by Sa­man­tha Bif­fot, on the in­cred­i­ble life of Gabonese kungfu mas­ter Luc Bendza, and Mara­cana, on the 1950 World Cup.

A pas­try-mak­ing res­i­dency awaits Fran­co­phone and Chi­nese ap­pren­tice pas­try mak­ers as a means to spread the French lan­guage via gourmet cre­ations. The aim is to come up with a fi­nal prod­uct de­rived from a blend of cul­tures and knowl­edge, orig­i­nal re­search and new fla­vors. Chefs from France, Switzer­land, Bel­gium, Morocco, Que­bec and China will teach their pas­try tech­niques to young pas­try chefs in Ly­cée Jin­song (Bei­jing) and Belle Vie School (Chang­sha).

The Fran­co­phonie Fes­ti­val is also about cin­ema, with films from all over the world be­ing shown in 20 Chi­nese cities as part of the Fran­co­phone Cin­ema En­coun­ters cy­cle. Michel Ocelot, one of France’s lead­ing an­i­mated film di­rec­tors, and the re­cip­i­ent of sev­eral in­ter­na­tional prizes (Kirikou and the Sorcer­ess, Princes and Princesses, Azur & Az­mar: The Princes’ Quest), will come to China to present his lat­est film, Ivan Tsare­vich and the Moody Princess. Right after Hol­ly­wood where his film My life as a Cour­gette is nom­i­nated for Os­cars, the Swiss Claude Bar­ras will come to Bei­jing.

The “Mars en Folie” mu­sic fes­ti­val in­vites you to cel­e­brate its 10th an­niver­sary in 2017. Each year, young mu­sic tal­ents from Bel­gium, Switzer­land, Canada, Que­bec, Switzer­land and Lux­em­bourg tour China, thanks to the Al­liance Française. More in­for­ma­tion at marsen­­

The Fran­co­phonie Fes­ti­val also wel­comes the fa­mous Malian kora player, Bal­laké Sis­soko, who will be per­form­ing in Poly the­aters in He­nan, Chang­sha, Wuhan, Shanxi, Jiangsu and Shenyang.

In China, around 150 uni­ver­si­ties have French de­part­ments. More and more pri­mary schools, mid­dle schools and high schools pro­vide French as for­eign lan­guage cour­ses. The 15 French Al­liances all around China also pro­vide tai­lored cour­ses. Find out more about it on the in­for­ma­tion day on French lan­guage trips at the French In­sti­tute in Bei­jing on April 1 (for all lev­els and ages).

Pho­tos: Cour­tesy of the Con­sulate Gen­eral of France in Shang­hai

Multi­na­tional at­ten­dees take a group photo at a pro­mo­tional event for this year’s Fran­co­phonie Fes­ti­val.

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