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.

AND NOW FOR A DOSE OF REALITY

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!

THE LYRICS TO ‘REQUIEM’ 

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
Embrasse-moi, tell me that you love me
Embrasse-moi

 

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. 

It’s Mine Awareness Day; and 10 poor victims will be caught unawares

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In Land of Mine, the second world war has just ended but young German prisoners are kept on to clear Denmark’s beaches of 1.4 million landmines. The fatalities were horrendous.

Today, April 4, is International Mine Awareness Day, as designated by the United Nations. I mention this for two reasons. First, there is a fantastic new film on the topic, Land of Mine (a finalist in the Oscars this year), and I was telling my friends in Romance-language speaking countries about it – the related vocabulary is further down this post. Second, the film brought back memories of my own experience in this regard – in my youth in Africa I was once on the back of a truck that detonated a landmine. Fortunately it was a reinforced vehicle and the injuries were minimal. It’s far worse if you tread on one.

Landmines may seem like a thing of the past but here are some facts that will shock you.

  • In 64 countries around the world, there are an estimated 110 million undetonated
    landmines still lodged in the ground.
  • Since 1975, landmines have killed or maimed more than one million people.
  • On average, 10 people die every day due to landmine blasts.
  • Even with training, mine disposal experts expect that for every 5000 mines cleared,
    one worker will be killed and two workers will be injured by accidental explosions.

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These details came from the press kit for Land Of Mine, which has just opened in Australia. The Danish mine-clearing campaign was shocking for a number of reasons.

  • It was a violation of the 1929 Convention relating to the Treatment of Prisoners of War.
  • An estimated 2600 POWS were forced to do it. Some were as young as 13.
  • Half of them were killed or injured.

So much for the grim statistics. The film is marvellous and uplifting for the way it shows how, even in the tensest of times, it is possible to break down enmities, to see a friend instead of a a foe – something that I wish political fanatics and bigots all over the world could do today. Do see the movie if you can.

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VOCABULARY

How do you say “landmine” and “to explode” in my five Romance languages?

  • In French, mine terrestre; exploser
  • In Italian, mina terrestreesplodere
  • In Portuguese, mina terrestre; explodir
  • In Romanian, mină terestră or mină de uscat. (When I asked a Romanian friend he said “something like teren minat” but that’s his story.) a exploda, a detona
  • In Spanish, mina de tierra, hacer volar/estaliar/explotar

Photographs supplied courtesy of Palace Films.