French Film Sneak Preview: “Paris Can Wait” Monday, Apr 24 2017 

Bonjour France friends,

We have a fun event to propose coming up next week. French Affaires has been invited by Sony Pictures Classics to attend the free advance screening of PARIS CAN WAIT in Dallas, Texas, on Monday, May 1. ”Paris Can Wait” is a new romantic comedy starring Diane Lane on her food, wine and love adventures throughout France. The screening will take place at the Dallas Angelika Film Center at 7 PM. Again, this event is free and it’s open to all our readers so if you are anywhere near Dallas next Monday, please join us!

FILM SYNOPSIS: Anne (Diane Lane) is at a crossroads in her life. Married to a successful but inattentive movie producer (Alec Baldwin), she unexpectedly finds herself taking a car trip from Cannes to Paris with her husband’s business associate (Arnaud Viard). What should be a seven-hour drive turns into a carefree two-day adventure replete with diversions involving picturesque sights, fine food and wine, humor, wisdom and romance, reawakening Anne’s senses and giving her a new lust for life.

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Cast: Diane Lane, Alec Baldwin; Director: Eleanor Coppola (wife of director Francis Ford Coppola); Screenplay: Eleanor Coppola.

You can CLICK HERE to see a short trailer of the film.

To RSVP, please click the special link below that will add you to a reserve list for the screening. Under ‘organization,’ please note “French Affaires” so you will be included with our group. The studio organizers will send you a reminder the day of the screening, but please know your email address will not be kept for any future use. When you arrive at the screening, simply provide the studio representative your name so you can be checked in. Be sure and arrive early for a good seat.

Merci beaucoup – we hope you can come out to enjoy this light-hearted ’evening in France!’

 

RSVP HERE

 Screening Details

Monday, May 1, 2017

7:00 PM

Angelika Film Center and Café Dallas

5321 E Mockingbird Ln, Dallas, TX 75206

For questions, please contact us at French.culture (at) frenchaffaires.com

 

 

Deep France Wednesday, Oct 15 2014 

To my mind, one of the best things about France is the French countryside. These are just some of the images that come to mind: Driving down a rural lane past centuries-old farms in Normandy or Burgundy. Taking a long walk in the once-royal forest of Fontainebleau. Picking my way through moss-laden trees in the Dordogne woods. Smelling the pines and sea air in the hinterlands of the Médoc or in the hills behind the Côte d’Azur. Getting stopped by a rowdy herd of goats on a remote road in Corsica or Provence. Biking around the scenic Ile de Ré. Tracing the outline of bare trees against open fields in winter. Seeing thousands of yellow sunflowers swaying in the wind. Watching the sun slowly set over rolling green vineyards. The possibilities of French landscapes are almost endless – and so easily obtainable. All you have to do is get out of the city and voilà, the French countryside is there.

Thinking about the non-city experience in France reminds me of the wonderful French expression ‘la France profonde’ – deep France. As one of my French friends puts it, ”la France profonde signifie la France des campagnes. Sans urbanisation et progrès, et ancrée dans les traditions.” In other words, deep France is the French countryside untouched by urbanization or development and anchored in tradition. In this view, French rural life is simple and idyllic in a positive sense. To another French friend, however, la France profonde is rather pejorative. It reminds her of a remote backwater, its inhabitants out of touch with modern life. Perhaps the American expression the ‘deep South’ is similar, both positive and negative depending on whom you talk to.

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Recently, I had a very deep France encounter in its best sense. You know when you’re really in the mood for something and then it happens that the more than the perfect thing comes along to satisfy that wish? For me, it was just that with the extraordinary French documentary film “Le Cousin Jules.” Originally released in 1973 and despite receiving critical acclaim, Cousin Jules languished in relative film obscurity until it was digitized and re-released this past year.  

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Watching Le Cousin Jules is to step back in time to real, deep France – and I was totally mesmerized. Filming over a five-year period starting in the late 60’s, director Dominique Benicheti records the rhythms and rituals of the lives of his cousin Jules Guiteaux and his wife Félicie on their farm in Burgundy. Each day, Jules dons wooden clogs and leather apron to begin work in his shop, while Félicie tends the vegetable garden and prepares their meals.

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From the music of Jules’ hammer hitting the anvil to the sweetness of Félicie’s gnarled hands peeling potatoes to their simple lunch taken together in near silence, every scene is rich in the details of daily life. My favorite scene is when Félicie joins her husband in his blacksmith shop after lunch and carefully prepares their coffee on the wood-burning stove. You can tell it’s something that she’s done hundreds of times throughout their lives but somehow the action manages to be fresh and alive in that moment.

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Before sitting down to watch this jewel of French cinema, however, you have to know that the film really is a documentary. There is no storyline and almost no dialogue. The drama is simply everyday life in the French countryside. (There is a big shift midway through the film, however. I won’t give it away here, and try not to read about it on the internet before seeing the movie!) To enjoy the film is to completely slow down and take in the details, the sounds and the rhythms of a time that no longer exists in France or elsewhere for that matter. But Benicheti makes the watching very worthwhile – he filmed Le Cousin Jules in lush CinemaScope and recorded it in stereo for a ravishing visual and auditory experience.

So if you’re game for a completely different type of film, pick up the Cousin Jules DVD at your local art flick rental store or buy a copy for your French film library. Then sit back with a nice glass of French wine and let yourself be immersed in la France profonde. Warmly poetic but unsentimental, Le Cousin Jules palpably captures the beauty of rural France, the simplicity of daily peasant life, and the nearly wordless intimacy of a lifelong relationship.  

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French Take-Out ~ La France  à emporter

To enjoy more French film viewing in the U.S., be sure and check out the swell website frenchflicks.com. Every week, French Flicks lists all the French movies being shown in America including special film festivals and events. For an added bonus, it also cross-references French film offerings on Netflix and TV5 Monde.

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The French Remember ~ Commemorating WWI and II in 2014 Friday, Apr 25 2014 

Historically speaking, 2014 is a big year in France. June 6th marks the 70th – hard to believe – anniversary of D-Day and the beginning of the liberation of Europe by the Allies in World War II. And this year also observes the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I. A propos, the French are making a point to remember both the events and those who lost their lives in these conflicts with a host of special activities and commemorations.

World War I: If you’re in Paris between now and August 4th, you’ll want to check out the moving photo exhibition commemorating the ‘Grande Guerre’ at the Luxembourg Gardens on the Left Bank. British photo-journalist Michael St Maur Sheil spent six years capturing the battlefields of the Great War from the North Sea all the way to Gallipoli. His efforts have culminated in an open-air gallery show entitled “Fields of Battle – Terres de Paix 14 – 18″ which is being shown on the fences on the eastern side of the Luxembourg Gardens.

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Exhibition poster courtesy of the French Senate

The large-scale photos poignantly capture the haunting remains of the devastation and violence that occurred along the front lines as well as the interminable rows of tombs of those who fell during the war. These landscapes also reveal the healing powers of time and nature as the trees, woods, mountains and rivers resumed their peaceful existence in the aftermath of World War I.

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© 2014 westernfrontphotography.com / Mary Evans Collection

Also included in the exhibition is a massive memorial map created by the top cartographers at Michelin. Laid out on the east side of the Luxembourg Palace – home of the French Senate who sponsored the exhibition, the  giant map recalls the battlefields and front lines of France, Europe and the world, highlighting the global scale of the conflict. Included are the 50 most important battlefields, nearly 700 kilometres of front lines during the four years of war, and 80 commemorative sites that can be visited today as well as the frontier demarcated by the Armistice signed on November 11, 1918 at 11am.

And when it comes to commemorations, no detail is too small for the French. The wooden railings installed around the giant map are made of 100 year old beechwood from the forests around Epinal. The French National Forest Service helped log the wood and a local workshop created them specifically for the exhibition. It turns out that these forests supplied the wood used to build the infamous trenches of the war. Be sure to click here for a short French video (with English-subtitles) of the installation of the exhibition map and photographs at the Luxembourg Gardens.

After its run in Paris, “Fields of Battle – Terres de Paix 14 – 18″ will travel to London where it will be shown in St. James’s park. The exhibition will then move to Nottingham as part of the city’s ‘Trent to Trenches’ commemorative program. The tour will continue, visiting major cities and towns throughout the UK, until its conclusion on Armistice Day on November 11, 2018.

“Fields of Battle – Terres de Paix 14 – 18″ will be on view in Paris until August, 4, 2014. Admission is free. The Luxembourg Garden fences have been used to host a wide variety of photography exhibitions in recent years, reaching a large urgan audience that might not otherwise visit a museum or gallery. To locate the Luxembourg Gardens outdoor photo exhibition, please see the map below:

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A large number of WWI commemorative events are being held all over northern France this year. Please see the Chemins de Mémoire 14 – 18 website for activities in the Nord-Pas de Calais region. Also of note is the Musée de la Grande Guerre located in Meaux in the Ile de France. Opening there on June 28 and running through December 29, 2014 is the temporary exhibition: “Join Now! L’entrée en guerre de l’Empire britannique” (’Join now! The Entry into the War by the British Empire’). And the war memorial and museum at Belleau Wood is always worth a visit.

World War II: The inhabitants of Normandy, France are pulling out all the stops this year to observe the 70th anniversary of the Allied landings on D-Day. From June 5th to August 21st, 2014, re-enactments, memorial ceremonies, exhibitions and more will be taking place in observance of June 6th, 1944. Adding to the emotion is the fact that this will be the last decennial D-Day celebration in which actors and witnesses to the actual D-Day event will be able to take part given their age.

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Event poster courtesy of the Comité Régional de Tourisme de Normandie

A comprehensive calendar in either French or English can be found on the event’s site. If you are traveling to Normandy soon, please click here to see what’s in store. A couple of things that caught my eye were the concert for peace in the town of Sainte Mère Eglise  on June 6th in the evening and also the grand picnic on Omaha Beach the following day to honor all those who fell there. What a place to be on June 7th, 2014!

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If your WWII D-Day history is a little rusty, you can see a terrific recap of the key military events of the Normandy landings on the 70th anniversary website by clicking here. And if you’ve never seen the American film “The Longest Day,” I recommend rushing out to rent or buy a copy. Also not to be missed is the recent documentary by film maker Doug Stebleton on the “Mother of Normandy.” Stebleton stumbled across this riveting untold story while making another documentary in France. He dropped everything and then spent three years in both Normandy and the U.S. tracking down the impact Simone Renaud made on France, American and the world.

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 Book cover courtesy of Doug Stebleton

Simone Renaud, the wife of the mayor of the Norman town of Sainte Mère Eglise, was there the night that American paratroopers landed as part of the Allied offensive in June, 1944. She, her husband and three sons witnessed the violent battle between the occupying Germans and American soldiers and the deaths of some 60 of their fellow townspeople. In the weeks that followed, makeshift cementeries around the town filled up with graves of the fallen GIs. Rain or shine, Simone Renaud took it upon herself to tend to the graves. When American families heard where their sons, husbands and fathers had died, they sent letters addressed simply to the “Maire” (mayor) of Sainte Mère Eglise to inquire about their graves. Alexandre Renaud passed the letters on to his wife who began to answer them individually, often including a photo of the graveside cross, a bit of dirt or even a pressed flower from the burial service.

After a photograph of Simone Renaud laying flowers on Brig. Gen. Theodore Roosevelt Jr.’s grave was published in Life magazine in August, 1944, even more letters came. From then on until her death in 1988 at the age of 89, Simone Renaud made it her mission to care for these soldiers who had died fighting for liberty and who were buried far from home. She wrote hundreds and hundreds of letters to American families and hosted some of them when they came to visit their loved one’s grave. As part of her efforts to make sure these heros were never forgotten and to express gratitude for the freedom they brought, she began to organize yearly D-Day memorial celebrations and re-enactments. Long story short, her immense legacy earned her the title “Mother of Normandy” and Stebleton’s compelling documentary ensures that her memory will never be forgotten.

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 Simone Renaud tending to GI graves – photo courtesy of Doug Stebleton

The “Mother of Normandy” is a must for those who love France and French history as well as WWII history buffs. To purchase the DVD version of the documentary, you can order it directly through the producer. The DVDs are $20 each, plus $4.00 for shipping, or $24.00 per DVD. Checks can be made out to Doug Stebleton and sent to:

Doug Stebleton
5506 Aurelia St
Simi Valley, CA 93063

Upon receipt of the check, the DVD(s) will be sent to the address provided. To order the accompanying book, please click here for more info.

French News Friday, Apr 27 2012 

This week’s posting includes a potpourri of French-related topics, from the French presidential election to May Day in France to cultural French happenings in the U.S. Take a peek at this week’s French news and then skip American reality TV in favor of a real French cultural event or two!

French May Day – Each year, the French celebrate May 1 and the full-on arrival of spring by offering lily of the valley bouquets to their loved ones. According to many sources, this charming tradition dates back to the 16th century when King Charles IX of France received some lily of the valley as a token of luck. He went on to present the lovely flower each year to the ladies of the court. At the beginning of the twentieth century, the French decided to continue this custom into modern times on the first of May. If you are in France on May 1, be sure and pick up some lily of the valley for your traveling companions – and yourself. You’ll see vendors on street corners selling these ‘bunches of happiness.’ You can also send a May Day card wishing friends or family a “Joyeux 1er mai” (Happy May 1st) or “Bonne fête du 1er mai – Beaucoup de bonheur” (Happy May 1 Holiday – Much happiness to you)!

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French Gourmet Events at Central Market in Texas – The food experts at Central Market are transforming their stores across Texas into French gourmet destinations from May 9 to 22. Mark your calendars now to check out “Passport France” and the new French food products, pastries, artisanal breads, cheeses, wines and more, all brought in especially to celebrate the fabulous French approach to food and dining. A variety of cultural and culinary events will also be on offer – I am pleased to be collaborating with the Central Market Dallas Cooking School chefs on the following special culinary offerings:

“Pause Déjeuner – Lunch in Paris” – Friday, May 11, from 12 to 1pm. A visual tour of all things gourmet in Paris plus the French cooking demonstration and Parisian lunch. Cost is $25; advance registration is required.

“Shop the French Market – Hands-on Cooking Class and French Grocery Shopping Tour” – Tuesday, May 15, from 6:30 to 9pm. A visual and cultural tour of French food markets and shops plus the French grocery shopping tour, hands-on cooking class using seasonal ingredients and market-fresh dinner with wine. Cost is $75; advance registration is required.

“Pause Déjeuner – Lunch in Provence” – Thursday, May 17, from 12 to 1pm. A visual tour of Provence flavors and tastes plus the Provencal cooking demonstration and lunch. Cost is $25; advance registration is required.

Click here to sign up for these French culinary and cultural celebrations!

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French Concert in Dallas – Music lovers in Dallas are in for a treat this Saturday evening, April 28. Francis Vidil of the Versailles Music Conservatory in France will be giving a ‘Concert extraordinaire’ at 7pm in the chapel of the Episcopal School of Dallas. The school is located at 4100 Merrell Road at Midway Dallas, TX 75229. The concert is free.

French Movie Preview in Dallas – Coming up next week is a free sneak preview of Les Intouchables, the dramatic comedy that was the runaway French movie hit of 2011. Les Intouchables (The Untouchables) is the true story of two French men who should have never met – a quadriplegic aristocrat who was injured in a paragliding accident and a young man from the projects. The screening will be held Tuesday, May 1, at 7pm at the Angelika Film Center on Mockingbird Lane in central Dallas. For your free ticket, please click here. Film organizers recommend arriving at least an hour ahead to secure seats. If you don’t make it to the Dallas preview, be sure to check your local movie listings for upcoming showings of this film.

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French Presidential Election – This past Sunday, the French went to the polls in the first round of France’s presidential elections. It was close – the socialist candidate François Hollande edged out the incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy by about 2 percentage points. The two will face off in round two of the election on Sunday, May 6. According to the news media, the financial stability and future of the euro-zone will be greatly impacted by how the French vote. Stay tuned for the next eventful chapter in Europe’s economic story…