The Washington Jewish Film Festival kicks off its 24th year this week. Between February 27 and March 9, 64 films from 18 countries will be shown in the District. While the festival is honouring legendary Israeli film maker Avi Nesher and showcasing Polish cinema, there are (as always) a number of great French films on the agenda.
A complete schedule of the festival can be found on at wjff.org. One of the films I’m personally curious about is The Jewish Cardinal, about former Archbishop of Paris Jean-Marie Lustiger. Known as the Jewish priest, he maintained his Jewish identity despite converting to Catholicism at a young age and rising through the ranks of the Church. I’m also looking forward to John Turturro’s Fading Gigolo featuring Woody Allen and Vanessa Paradis. Turturro, who directed and acts in the film, will be interviewed by WJLA-TV/ABC7 after the March 7th screening. I also think the closing night film “Cupcakes” sound adorable as does “Snuggle With the Stars,” a pajama-party at the Navy Memorial’s underground theater to watch the Oscars® broadcast on a giant 2-story HD screen, while sipping champagne and munching on snack food and pizza.
You can download the film on iTunes for a fee but if you’re in DC, you can also screen them for free at Malmaison and Napoleon Bistro and Lounge. Starting on February 3rd, Napoleon will screen Augustine and Le jour des Corneilles (2/3 at 7PM), Au galop and Comme un Lion (2/4 at 7PM) and J’enrage de son Absence and Mobile Home (2/5 at 7PM). After that the festival continues at Malmaison with La Vierge, les Coptes et Moi and Mariage à Mendoza (2/6 at 7PM) and all of the short films on the 8th.
I haven’t seen or heard much about any of the films (Augustine does screen on Netflix right now though) so I can’t really tell you much about them. Let me know if you see any of them and they are any good though!!
Towards the end of every week, there’s a few emails I can’t wait to see pop-up in my inbox. One of Frijolita‘s awesome Weekend Reads because a) she always shares the best links b) it means it’s FRIDAY! The other is Daily Candy‘s Apps and Distractions email. There’s always a couple of great finds in there. And this week, Daily Candy gave some love to Stromae, a Belgian singer that had the entire francophone world dancing to the gloomy beat-heavy hit Alors on Danse back in 2009. Four years later, he is back on top of the charts with his new album Racine Carrée. French music rarely makes it to American iTunes so it’s a testament to the success of this album that you can actually buy it in the U.S. store (I downloaded it a while back from the French iTunes store.) It’s also available to listen on Spotify if you’re not sure you want to commit $ to it 😉
Standouts from the album include the somber Formidable (<– watch the video, 42 million people already have!), which evokes another great Belgian artist, Jacques Brel, and is mentioned in the Daily Candy post as Shanon Cook’s favourite track on the album. It also includes the more upbeat Te Quiero and Papaoutai. That last one is actually not so upbeat once you listen to the lyrics — hint: papaoutai stands for Dad, where are you? heavy stuff when you know Stromae’s dad was mainly absent from his life and died in the Rwandan genocide! In Te Quiero Stromae also channels a little Jacques Brel when he cries “I love you until death” in between the dance beats of the chorus… Overall, the narrative on many songs is pretty bleak and part of popularity has been attributed to his ability to channel the malaise that is currently gripping the youths of Europe. Also, the songs are good! So give it a listen… let me know what you think!
So I may hate baseball, but it looks like some Frenchies are into the bat-and-ball game. There’s even a French Baseball (and Softball) Federation. Apparently, we even have a French national team. I guess you learn something new everyday 😉
So the French Baseball Federation wants to help baseball adverse expats like myself better understand America’s (second) favourite sport. Next Tuesday (June 25th), the FFBS is welcoming us to “French Baseball Appreciation Night.” The federation’s president, Didier Seminet, will be there to explain the rules of the game for those who still don’t get it while the Nationals take on the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Pour plus d’informations et pour achetez des places ($25) suivez le lien.
I love that the French Embassy here in D.C. is (slowly) embracing social media and I love this new project they’re doing: a twitter Q&A about France. The Internet is a great public diplomacy tool to connect with new audiences. Like any tool, it has limitations and its own set of challenges. For one, the language issue is tricky and diplomats have to strike the right balance between communicating in their own language for the audience back home and the expat community as well as the language of the country where they are posted to reach “the locals”. Immediacy is a huge challenge as well. Social media, twitter in particular, strives on the right now. Diplomacy, on the other hand, is more about carefully crafting an appropriate response. It can be hard to balance the two and a simple mistake or mispoken word, especially if you’re trying to write in a language that’s not your native language, can start a whole crisis. Finally, one of the biggest challenge of ediplomacy is to remember that social media tools are, well, just tools in the diplomatic arsenal. Twitter, facebook, pinterest etc. are great for cultural outreach, but as Robert O. Boorstin, Director of Public Policy at Google recently explained at a “Power to the Tweeple” panel on Digital Diplomacy during D.C.’s Social Media Week: “no amount of tweets can change the nuclear program in Iran.”
Picture courtesy of the Embassy of France in the United States
There’s no arguing with that 😉 Luckily, changing the nuclear program in Iran is not the goal of tomorrow’s Twitter Q&A with the French Embassy. The online chat, which will lead by Arnaud Guillois, press counselor and spokesperson of the Embassy of France in the United States, just wants to answer some of the questions that you might have about the Embassy (I’d like to know how I can get into the secret embassy store!!? I need good cheese…), France, France in the US and the relationship between the two countries. So if you have a question you’d like to ask to @franceintheus, use the hashtag (or should I say mot-dièse as it is officially supposed to be called in French?) #askfrance on twitter and ask away. You can also post your questions ahead of the chat on facebook on this thread. Then tune into the chat tomorrow, Thursday March 14 at 12:30PM EST to read Arnaud’s answers.
Ok… so the new Secretary of State actually speaks a lot of français 😉
When he was running for president back in 2003-2004, speaking French was probably one of the worst thing John Kerry could have done, so he avoided it very carefully. Actually, he even avoided speaking French at a press conference less than 3 weeks ago. But that was back in Washington… Once on an official visit to France as Secretary of State, it’s not so bad. I mean, everyone knows that with the French, flattery will pretty much get you everything you want… tell us our food is good, and that our language is beautiful (even better, speak it!) and we’ll love you forever. John Kerry’s a smart guy, he knows that… so he busted out some pretty impressive French (and called his lunch merveilleux) earlier today during a joint press conference with his French counterpart Laurent Fabius. Judge for yourself:
I mean, he’s no Bradley Cooper, but I’m definitely impressed! Even though John Kerry did end up switching back to English saying: “and now I’ll speak in English because otherwise they won’t let me return home.” I guess some things never change…