Say Hola or G’Day to Amaru Pumac Kuntur

I was a little surprised to find out that a band from Peru called Amaru Pumac Kuntur will be playing at The Factory Theatre in Sydney tomorrow night. The venue is just down the road from my apartment, but I won’t be able to see the Peruvians because I have a date with Scottish rockers Big Country at the same venue on the same night.


Still, they will be playing in Australia and Indonesia up until the Byron Spirit Fest in Byron Bay on April 21.

So, who are Amaru Pumac Kuntur? A folk-rock combo from Cusco who won Peru’s Got Talent in 2013, that’s who! Since then they have added a female Australian vocalist by the name of Fire Mane to their line-up.

Over to YouTube now for more on the “messengers of the mountains”, as they have been described. Here’s a live performance in Cusco (Cuzco in Spanish)

And here band members Chakira Miranda and the Aussie Fire Mane herself explain what the Rainbow Snake Tour of Australia is all about.

Good luck to them on their Australian tour. Who knows, you or I may even get to see them live in Cusco one day.

Here’s one more video for luck. The scenery is certainly stunning.



Rollicking start to French Film Festival


Australia’s biggest foreign language cinematic celebration, the Alliance Française French Film Festival, is under way in Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra and Brisbane, and will start soon in Perth, Adelaide and Hobart. There will also be screenings next month in Parramatta and Casula, in western parts of Sydney. All up, there are 50 films to choose from.

I was lucky enough to go to the opening night party in Sydney, at the National Art School, and as always there is a wonderful selection of French food and drink to go with it. I made a beeline for le fromage, purely for photographic purposes, you’ll understand.


The opening night film, C’est La Vie, was fantastic, one of those films in which even the extras have wonderful roles to play, and you get totally absorbed in the quirks and lives of all the major and minor characters. Originally titled Le Sens de la Fête, it was a wedding party film with a difference (the focus was on the caterers) and there were many moments when the audience was laughing out loud. It’s funny and witty, and I highly recommend it – see it if you can. Here is the trailer.

The film scored 10 nominations for the 2018 César Awards, including for best film, best director (Eric Tolédano and Olivier Nakache, who were also nominated for best original screenplay), best actor (Jean-Pierre Bacri), best supporting actors (Gilles Lellouche and Vincent Macaigne), best female newcomer (Eye Haïdara, who was superb in her role), best male newcomer (Benjamin Lavernhe) as well as best editing and best sound. However, it did not win in any category, which just goes to show how strong the competition must have been. C’est la vie, eh?

My favourite character in the film, though, was the lazy, hopeless philandering photographer Guy (played by Jean-Paul Rouve), who kept scoffing all the food instead of working. He reminded me of me! (We underpaid journalists and photographers need all the nourishment we can get.) Here’s another revealing photo I took from the opening night party.


Later his nerdy photographic apprentice taught him how to download dating apps on his phone, with hilarious consequences.

Don’t Miss BPM

The festival is in its 29th year, and last year had a record attendance of 174,500. The good news is that film that dominated the César Awards this year BPM (120 Battements Par  Minute) is included in it, as are other best film nominees Au revoir là-haut (See You Up There), Barbara and Petit Paysan (listed as Bloody Milk in the festival program. These films also scored notable César Awards – details here.


Throw a canary on the barbecue? Surely not!

After my close encounters with Uma Thurman, I have had another awkward moment with my phone’s predictive text. I was using Portuguese to describe a typical Australian Christmas meal …

Nós comemos muitos camarões (“we eat lots of prawns“) was what I wanted to say.

Sydney Xmas 2017 edited (19 of 94)

Exotic prawns spotted by Bernardo at the fishmarket. Photo: Bernard O’Shea

What my phone came up with: Nós comemos muitos canaries


How would you like to munch on these? Image: Pixabay

Now that I have whetted your appetite, why don’t you join me for a seafood extravaganza?


  • French: manger (to eat), un canari (a canary), une crevette (a prawn)
  • Italian: mangiare (to eat), un canarino (a canary), un gambero, un gamberetto (a prawn)
  • Portuguese: comer (to eat),  um canário (a canary), um camarão, (a prawn)
  • Romanian: a mânca (to eat), un canar (a canary), un crevete (a prawn)
  • Spanish: comer(to eat), un canario (a canary), un camarónuna gamba (a prawn)

Note: For simplicity’s sake, I’m treating shrimps and prawns as the same. Portuguese also has the word gamba, but it may be more used in Portugal than Brazil.


All ye Romancers, shake your bon bons

Sydney Xmas 2017 edited (5 of 94)

Feliz Natal, Feliz Navidad, Buon Natale, Joyeux Noel, Crăciun Fericit.

In other words, happy Christmas in (from left) Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, French and Romanian.

To wish you all the joys of the festive season, I thought I would share some of the Christmas imagery that caught my eye in my home city, Sydney. All that is lacking is some snow and sleighs.

The picture at top was taken in a shopping centre (’tis the season to be shopping, after all). The big red dangling thing is what I as an Anglo-Irish child growing up in Africa would call a Christmas cracker, but here in Australia they seem to call them bon bons. Then I always think of Ricky Martin wanting people to shake their bon bons.

Sydney Xmas 2017 edited (60 of 94)

The tree at Circular Quay.

Above is a decoration in front of the beautiful old Customs House, behind Circular Quay, the main terminal for the Sydney Harbour ferries. The restaurant at the top of the building has great views. (Just saying, should any of you want to treat me to lunch.)

Sydney Xmas 2017 edited (80 of 94)

Wrapped so you’ll be enrapt in George Street.

A nice touch in George Street is these gift-wrapped concrete cubes. George Street has been undergoing renovations as a new tram line is put in. I guess the concrete cubes are to prevent vehicular traffic. People could sit on them, I suppose, but a tree for shade would be nice.

Talking of trees, you have to admire this enormous one in the dome of the Queen Victoria Building, one of the most beautiful buildings in Sydney.

Sydney Xmas 2017 edited (67 of 94)

Hitting the heights in the QVB.

That shot was taken on the top level of the building, and there are two levels below. Alas, it’s plastic.

Best wishes to you, 




My close encounters with Uma Thurman

cinema-1293881_640Bernardo (c’est moi) is a socialite. He struts the red carpets. He mingles with the stars. Or at least his smartphone seems to think he does.

When you dabble with a number of languages on your phone – I frequently use English, Portuguese, Spanish, Romanian and sometimes French on WhatsApp –  it can play havoc with your auto-fill predictive text. My phone often hasn’t a clue what I am talking about. If I am not careful it will spew out nonsense.

For example, when I was on holiday in England a couple of months ago, I would try to tell my Brazilian friends….

Estou ficando na casa de uma tia  (I am staying at the house of an aunt)

…. which the phone embellished as ….

Estou ficando na casa de Uma Thurman

They were most impressed.

Sorry, I’ve got to rush – Uma’s calling me to breakfast. Chat later!


Three of the best from La Oreja de Van Gogh

La Oreja de Van Gogh are a Spanish band who have been around for two decades and have been highly successful in their home land and in South America. I have skimmed through some of their music while on flights – I always browse the Romance language film and music selections on a plane whenever they are available – but have never really studied La Oreja much at home. Their name in English would be Van Gogh’s ear.

This weekend I heard a friend doing karaoke to Rosas (a No.1 hit in Spain and many South American countries in 2003). So, out of curiosity, I had to look up to see what was it supposed to have sounded like. Here is a live performance of the song, featuring the current lead singer, Leire Martínez.

If you want to sing along yourself, you will need the “letras”. Here they are!

The original lead singer was Amaia Montero, who had quite a different style. Here she is in another chartbuster, Puedes Contar Comigo (You Can Count On Me), also from 2003.

Let’s move on a few years to 2013 when the single,  El Primer Día Del Resto De Mi Vida (“The first day of the rest of my life“) was released. It’s a cheerful one.

I hope you liked this selection. They are definitely a band worth investigating if you want to improve your Spanish.


Salvador Sobral tipped to do wonders for Portugal at Eurovision 2017

Portugal’s entry in the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest is Amar Pelos Dois (Love For Two) by Salvador Sobral, and according to the various betting websites that I have seen, it is regarded as a strong contender and possible winner – some rank it second behind the Italian entry.

The song is entirely in Portuguese (applause, applause) and was written by Salvador’s sister, Luisa. It is a charmingly old-fashioned song, and sounds very Brazilian in a musical sense (though his accent is definitely not Brazilian).

It is a sad song (a man pining for his lover to come back) – and there is a sad real-life story about Salvador that has emerged in recent days – he is in very poor health and in urgent need of a heart donor (details here). For this reason, his sister sang the song at the early rehearsals. Salvador is saving his strength for the finals.

The lyrics of the song have been translated into more than 15 languages here, among them my four other Romances – French, Italian, Spanish and Romanian – as well as English. You can more about Salvador, the song, and some critical reactions to it, here. The following clip will also fill you in.

Good luck to him. The song has grown on me, and I really hope Portugal gets to win the competition for the first time in its history. I fancy going to Eurovision 2018 in Lisbon!


Goodbye to a loved one: The Alan Parsons Project ‘Time’ (com tradução)

I have been streaming the music of The Alan Parsons Project this week. I say this trying to sound modern, but in truth I have been listening in my old-fashioned way – with an old CD plucked out from my collection and inserted into my humble ghetto blaster – which even has a cassette deck in it.

Anyway, I came across a YouTube listing of one of my favourite tracks, Time, which had the lyrics translated into Portuguese, so I thought I would share it.

It’s a poignant, beautiful song. Enjoy.


France’s Eurovision winner this year is … Isabelle Huppert. Ooops! Sorry, wrong envelope, the real winner is …

Eiffel on flagThe Eurovision Song Contest is just around the corner, and there is a great French film doing the rounds that will put you in the mood for it. What’s more, it stars the superb French actress Isabelle Huppert.

The film in question is Souvenir. In it, Isabelle plays a woman who was once a child star but her world came crashing down after she was beaten at a Eurovision Song Contest by ABBA. Oh, the indignity!

Now she lives a humdrum life and makes pâtés for a living at a suburban factory, where a young spunky co-worker cum amateur boxer (Kévin Azaïs oozing great charm and innocence) recognises her. He buys her flowers and chocolates, puts some spark in her life and soon they are in cavorting together in the bathtub. In the midst of this he urges her to make a comeback. He even gives up his, ahem, promising amateur boxing career to become her manager. And yes, she enters the contest to be France’s next representative at Eurovision. What a comeback it would be if she won – the French music industry story of the year!

I wish I could find a video clip of Isabelle singing the song that may or may not cast her into the international limelight, but unfortunately there does not seem to be one around. Nor can I find a trailer with subtitles. But here is the French language trailer, which will give you some idea of the tensions involved in showbiz.


So, who is going to represent France at Eurovision this year? That honour falls to an as yet little known singer, Alma, whose debut album is to be released shortly. (You can read more about her here). Her song is Requiem which, under the terms of the French selection process, has to have at least 80 per cent French language content.

The contest takes place in Kiev, Ukraine, from May 9 to 13. Bonne chance, Alma!


Des amours meurent, des amours naissent
Les siècles passent et disparaissent
Ce que tu crois être la mort
C’est une saison et rien de plus
Un jour lassé de cette errance
Tu t’en iras, quelle importance
Car la terre tournera encore
Même quand nous ne tournerons plus
Embrasse-moi, dis-moi que tu m’aimes
Fais-moi sourire au beau milieu d’un requiem
Embrasse-moi, dis-moi que tu m’aimes
Fais-moi danser jusqu’à ce que le temps nous reprenne
Ce qu’il a donné
Will you take me to paradise?
With you nothing ever dies
You take my smile and make it bright
Before the night erase the light
I won’t go below silver skies
The only dark is in your eyes
On pleure mais on survit quand même
C’est la beauté du requiem
Les étincelles deviennent des flammes
Les petites filles deviennent des femmes
Ce que tu crois être l’amour
C’est un brasier et rien de plus
Nos déchirures, nos déchéances
On pense qu’elles ont de l’importance
Mais demain renaîtra le jour
Comme si nous n’avions pas vécu
Embrasse-moi, dis-moi que tu m’aimes
Fais-moi sourire au beau milieu d’un requiem
Embrasse-moi, dis-moi que tu m’aimes
Fais-moi danser jusqu’à ce que le temps nous reprenne
Ce qu’il a donné
Will you take me to paradise?
With you nothing ever dies
You take my smile and make it bright
Before the night erase the light
I won’t go below silver skies
The only dark is in your eyes
On pleure mais on survit quand même
C’est la beauté du requiem
Des amours naissent, des amours meurent
Ce soir enfin je n’ai plus peur
Je sais que je t’aimerai encore
Quand la terre ne tournera plus
Des amours naissent, des amours meurent
Ce soir enfin je n’ai plus peur
Je sais que je t’aimerai encore
Quand la terre ne tournera plus
Embrasse-moi, dis-moi que tu m’aimes
Fais-moi sourire au beau milieu d’un requiem
Embrasse-moi, dis-moi que tu m’aimes
Fais-moi danser jusqu’à ce que le temps nous reprenne
Ce qu’il a donné
Embrasse-moi, tell me that you love me
Embrasse-moi, tell me that you love me



Screen queens, stubborn soldiers and shots in a bar: Spanish Film Festival fare

The Bar copy

Eight people walk into a bar and then … a scene from El Bar (The Bar)

As one film festival closes (I’m talking about Australia’s French Film Festival), so another one begins. And this time, amigos, the featured language is Spanish. And it’s a landmark for the Spanish Film Festival – this will be its 20th edition, with some 34 films to show for it. Here is the schedule.

  • Sydney (April 18 to May 7)
  • Canberra (April 19 to May 7)
  • Melbourne (April 20 to May 7)
  • Adelaide (April 26 to May 14)
  • Perth (April 27 to May 17)
  • Brisbane (April 27 to May 14)
  • Hobart (May 11-18)

Some of my favourite Spanish actresses are featured, and I’m looking forward to seeing these in films in particular:

Penélope Cruz in La Reina De España (The Queen of Spain) 

The Queen of Spain

The film is set in the 1950s and Penélope plays an actress who returns from Hollywood to play Queen Isabella. It looks lavish.

Maribel Verdú in La Punta Del Iceberg (The Tip Of The Iceberg)

The tip of the iceberg

This film takes a look at corporate culture. When three employees of a multinational corporation commit suicide, Maribel plays an executive who is chosen by the company to investigate (and to do a good PR job for it), but the more she sees, the more aghast she becomes. She doesn’t look happy, does she?


For those who like war films or historical epics, 1898, Los Últimos De Filipinas (1898, Our Last Men In The Philippines) should do the trick.


1898 our last men of philippines

It certainly looks like movie making in a grand style.


Another one that looks interesting is El Bar, (The Bar, pictured at the top of this post). In it, people in a bar find themselves caught up in a terrifying episode.

Photographs courtesy of Palace Films.