Last night I had the privilege of joining the who’s who of the French-speaking cultural and diplomatic world for the official launch of the 2012 Francophonie Cultural Festival. Hosted by H.E. Jean Paul Senninger and Madame Louise Akerblom at the Embassy of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, the evening celebrated a community of French speakers present on every continent (that’s right, we’re EVERYWHERE!). In his speech, the Ambassador joked about his “little country,” surrounded by 2 big neighbours (Germany and France), where people speak 3 languages but that takes great pride in belonging to the francophone world. His remarks were followed by an hilarious presentation by the President of the Francophonie organization here in DC, the Embassy of Belgium’s Bernard Geenen. Rather than speak Franglais, which a lot of us end up doing when you speak the 2 languages on a day to day basis, he said he preferred AngloFrench and went on to use many of these French words that have sneaked into every day English vocabulary, faux amis, amuse bouche, etc. in a particularly clever way. He wrapped up with a toast to the Francophonie Festival, now in its 12th year (“hardly a debutante”) and a Laissez Les Bons Temps Roulez that drew some applause from the dignitaries assembled.
|The guests were entertained by a lovely musical trio, straight from Luxembourg!|
I look forward to the Francophonie Festival every year because it includes a series of events in a broad range of cultural domains and celebrates the diversity of the French speaking world. From film screenings to live music, cooking classes and family-friendly activities, the festival always offer a palette of fun events. And the Francophonie 2012 Cultural Festival is no exception! As always, La Grande Fête de la Francophonie hosted at La Maison Française at the French Embassy (March 23, $35 general admission tickets) will be a highlight of the Festival, with live music, food, cocktails, mingling and dancing. Though it will be tough to beat last year’s suprise appearance by Les Nubians 😉 Another stand out this year is the visio-disco: a remix of art and music at the Kogod Courtyard of the National Portrait Gallery (April 13, general admission is $35 includes one drink ticket.) Presented in collaboration with l’Alliance Française, the Wallonie-Bruxelles Théâtre/Danse and Portraits After 5 at the National Portrait Gallery, the courtyard-turned-stage-slash-nightclub will host huge plastic bubbles as t.r.a.n.s.i.t.s.c.a.p.e, a creative dance group from Belgium, will conjure up a collage of city life on three continents in their installation-performance Distortions Urbaines and the sounds of French composer-performer Koudlam, whose mixes draw on everything from tribal beats to symphonic measures.
Other cultural events include:
- Movies, like a screening of Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne’s Le gamin Au Velo/the kid with the bike at the Letelier Theatre in Georgetown (Thursday March 8, $9 admission)
- Literary salons with francophone authors from the Republic of Congo (Alain Mabanckou, March 9 at 7PM), Lebanon (Alexandre Najjar, April 5 at 7PM), France (Sylvie Germain, March 20 at 7PM) and Haiti (Guy Regis, Jr. April 9 at 6:30PM.)
|Guy Régis Jr. will also read from his play “Moi, fardeau inhérent”
on April 10th, 7:30PM at La Maison Française
- A series of events celebrating the 300 birthday of the age of Enlightenment philosopher jean-Jacques Rousseau, including an exhibit at the Library of Congress (Occupy Rousseau: Inequality and Social Justice, Tuesday March 13, 5:30PM followed by a 6:30PM seminar, free, no reservations required) and a screening of La Faute à Rousseau!/Blame it on Rousseau! at the Embassy of Switzerland (Monday March 12th, 7PM free with reservation)
- Cuisine Seminars – Raise a Glass to Belgium’s Art de Bien Manger on Wednesday, March 7 and Le Maroc Sur la Route des Epices/Morocco on the spice road on Thursday March 15 (free with reservation)
- Concerts: as I mentioned before, it’s hard to beat last year’s appearance by Les Nubians, but the festival is trying with 3 great performances by Maria de Barros of Cape Verde (Thursday March 22, 7:30PM, La Maison Francaise, $25), Genticorum, a crowd pleasing traditional Quebec group (March 31, 7:30PM, Baird Auditorium – National History Museum, $25) and Cheikh Lô of Senegal (April 12th, 8PM at the Lisner Auditorium, contact them at 202-397-SEAT for tickets.)
|Domnica Radulescu, Professor of Romance Languages at Washington and Lee University,
will direct a group of French majors in La Cantatrice Chauve
- Theater with a free performance at La Maison Française of scenes from Eugène Ionesco’s absurdist play La Cantatrice Chauve, by a group of passionate French students from Washington & Lee University. I’ve taken maybe visitors with rudimentary knowledge of French to see this play at the Theatre de la Huchette in Paris, where it’s been played since 1957 so you should be able to get by on just a little French… (Saturday March 21st, 5PM)