The The richness of French arts and culture will be enjoyed in Cuba from late April and much of the month of May, during “French Culture Month”, an event that will honor the bonds of friendship that exist between the two nations.
An initiative of the President of the European nation, François Hollande, during his visit to Havana in May 2015, the month will include concerts, visual art exhibitions, theater, dance, architecture and other contemporary art forms.
The core feature of the event will be the 19th French Film Festival, eagerly awaited by lovers of the country’s film productions, known for their strong storylines and an exquisite sense of humor.
The festival opened on April 29 at Havana’s Charles Chaplin cinema, with the world premiere of L’Outsider, by French filmmaker Christophe Barratier, who personally presented the film to the Cuban audience.
Another feature of the festival which will run through May 21, is the premier screening of the documentary Ouragan.
Directed by Cyril Barbançan, Andy Byatt and Jacqueline Farmer, the film approaches the destructive force of hurricanes and their role in the balance of life on planet Earth.
Thrillers, detective movies, biographies, comedies and dramas make up the wide range of film genres, with a total of 28 films to be screened.
One of the main attractions of the festival is the presence of actors and filmmakers who will come to Havana to share details of the films to be presented in the city’s cinemas.
Some of the feature films to be screened during the 19th French Film Festival have won international awards.
Such is the case of the film La loi du marché(The Measure of a Man), awarded the 2015 Audience Award at the European Film Festival in Brussels, Belgium.
Films inspired by real events such as The Connection, by Cédric Jimenez and Les Heritiers (Once in a Lifetime) by Marie-Castille Mention-Schaar, stand out among the rest of the program for their emotive content and strong stories.
Meanwhile, the classics Capitaine Conan andLife and Nothing But by Bertrand Tavernier, and The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, directed by Jacques Demy, among others, will return to the big screen with their alluring and romantic storylines.
The Havana cinemas Charles Chaplin, La Rampa, Yara and Multicine Infanta, will host the range of interesting proposals from the European nation.
Organized by the French Embassy and the Alliance Francaise in Havana, the Cinemateca de Cuba and the Cuban Institute of Cinematographic Art and Industry, the film festival will allow Cuban audiences to appreciate the rich culture of the French nation.
A SPACE FOR FRENCH MUSIC
While the 19th French Film Festival stands out as the key event of Cuba’s French Culture Month, music offerings from the European nation will also take to the stage with two large concerts scheduled in Havana.
For the first time Cuban audiences will have the opportunity to enjoy a performance by French countertenor Philippe Jaroussky (April 30) alongside pianist Jérôme Ducros in the Federico García Lorca Hall of the Alicia Alonso Grand Theater of Havana.
Entitled Green, the concert will include French songs based on poems by Paul Verlaine and music by Gabriel Fauré, Claude Debussy and Poldowski, among others.
Jaroussky’s debut in Cuba is also part of the World Countertenors Series, the final stage of which will be the festival of the same name, September 30 through October 9, in the Cuban capital.
Considered a true champion of French music, U.S. soprano Barbara Hendricks will perform on May 12 in the Basilica Menor del Convento de San Francisco de Asís, located in the Old Havana historic district.
During the concert, the singer will share the stage with saxophonist Magnus Lindgren, guitarist Ulf Englund and Cuba’s all-female Camerata Romeu string orchestra, conducted by the Cuban maestra Zenaida Romeu.
For this occasion, Hendricks will perform excerpts from Carmen, by French composer Georges Bizet, and Les nuits d’été, as well as various Cuban pieces.
The soprano, awarded the Prince of Asturias Award for the Arts in 2000, not only defends classic works but also explores, and makes her own, contemporary jazz and blues pieces.
Since her debut in 1974, Hendricks has performed at the most important theaters of the world, including the Paris Opera, the Metropolitan Opera in New York, London’s Royal Opera House and La Scala in Milan.
A FESTIVAL OF FRENCH ARTS IN HAVANA
Music, theater, dance and architecture, among other art forms will all color the French Culture Month in Cuba, which began on April 27 with three exhibitions at the Alliance Francaise, in the former Palacio Gómez in Havana.
The ambitious program, which will introduce Cuban audiences to the diversity and dynamism of French arts, will be divided between the Cuban capital and the southeastern city of Santiago de Cuba.
Various art forms will also feature during other planned cultural events for the month of May, including the International Poetry Festival and Musicabana, the Theatrical May event of the Casa de las Americas and the Design Biennial, in which students from the Duperré and Boulle arts schools of Paris will participate.
Undoubtedly, an event of this type will demonstrate elements of French artistic creation, a country which, like Cuba, has always defended the importance of culture in the development of society.
Parallel to the event, Paris will host the Cuban Culture Month beginning May 2, in order to offer French audiences the opportunity to enjoy the cultural richness and artistic diversity of the island. (PL)