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

 

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French film festival update: here comes the extended version

ETERNITY_14Great news for Francophiles in Sydney and Melbourne: the 2017 Alliance Française French Film Festival has been extended in both cities until April 5. And if Sydneysiders still can’t get enough, don’t forget there are screenings in the suburbs of Parramatta and Casula from April 6-9 and 8-9 respectively.

Here is the amended schedule. I have included all starting dates, so you can roughly plan ahead for next year too.

  • Sydney (March 7-April 5)
  • Melbourne (March 8-April 5)
  • Canberra (March 9-April 4)
  • Perth (March 15-April 5)
  • Brisbane (March 16-April 9)
  • Adelaide (March 30-April 23)
  • Hobart (March 30-April 8)
  • Parramatta (April 6-9)
  • Casula (April 8-9)

Go here for films and session times: the 2017 Alliance Française French Film Festival.

The image is from Éternité (Eternity), the first film in the French language from Vietnamese-born director Tran Anh Hung of The Scent of Green Papaya fame. It examines the lives of three generations of an aristocratic family, and stars what Variety calls “an embarrassment of great actresses” (as does the whole festival itself), including Audrey Tautou (above), Bérénice Bejo, Mélanie Laurent and Irène Jacob.

Highlights from the French Film festival – and a Danish gem

In Australia the 2017 Alliance Française French Film Festival is in full swing, and I have been trying to immerse myself in it as much as I can in my spare time. By coincidence or not, I have mostly been cast back in time to the Second World War. I guess it is a period in history that still fascinates, and still nags at our conscience. It produced so many dramatic stories showing the best and the worst of humanity – heroism, cruelty, hate, bravery, love and compassion –  that we can now get to see in the comfort of a cinema, unlike the poor souls who had to live (if they were lucky) through such ordeals.

Here is what I have enjoyed so far.

Planetarium

Planetarium 1

Lily-Rose Depp and Natalie Portman share a sisterly smoke in Planetarium

Planetarium is set in prewar Paris. Lily-Rose Depp and Natalie Portman star as two broke American sisters who hold seances with the dead.  Initially you suspect they are charlatans. But when they conduct a seance for a wealthy movie producer (played by Emmanuel Salinger) it seems someone from the dead wants to strangle him, and nearly succeeds. And he seems to find this erotic, and becomes fascinated with the whole process! And so we venture into the strange world of the dead and the decadent world of the 1930s European elite, until the war looms and things get sinister. Visually, it’s an enthralling spectacle.

The film starts off as a mix of English and French, but as the two sisters (newly arrived from Berlin) get more fluent in the local language, the English fades away.

A Bag Of Marbles

Tournage Un sac de Billes

A lighter moment by the seaside for the young heroes of A Bag of Marbles.

This is a great new film based on Un Sac De Billes, the memoirs of Joseph Joffo – a film of the same name was made in 1975, two years after the book was published. It tells the hair-raising and harrowing story of two brothers Joseph, 12, (played superbly by Dorian Le Clech), and Maurice, 17 (Batyste Fleurial). Being Jewish, they have to flee Nazi-occupied Paris for the demilitarised zone in the south, getting separated from their family in the process, but as the war progresses, so do the perils.

When we came out of the cinema, I heard a mother ask her teenage son what he thought of the film. “It was fantastic, really fantastic,” was the reply. I couldn’t agree more.

Land of Mine

LOM_Still_061

Not so fun times on the beach in Land of Mine.

Still on the Second World War two theme, at the cinema there was also a preview screening of the Danish film Land of Mine, which was a finalist in the Best Foreign Film category at the Oscars this year. It too is fantastic, really gripping. Young German prisoners have to stay on in Denmark in the immediate aftermath of the war, clearing all the landmines on the beaches. Explosive stuff. It opens in Australia on March 30.

Don’t miss out

The French Film Festival is Australia’s largest foreign language film festival, and this year is the 28th in its history.

  • Sydney (March 7-30)
  • Melbourne (March 8-30)
  • Canberra (March 9-April 4)
  • Perth (March 15-April 5)
  • Brisbane (March 16-April 9)
  • Adelaide (March 30-April 23)
  • Hobart (March 30-April 8)
  • Parramatta (April 6-9)
  • Casula (April 8-9)

Photographs supplied courtesy of the 2017 Alliance Française French Film Festival and Palace Films.

 

Say cheese, say French Film Festival, see Audrey, Juliette and Marion

The media launch of the 2017 Alliance Française French Film Festival took place in Sydney during the week, and I was eager to attend, spurred on by the thought that there might be some free food and wine to go with it. Journalists are easily persuaded.

img_0735And my instincts were right. Look what I found.

That’s a plate of cheese (fromage in French).

Or it was. In my hands it soon became a plate of discarded toothpicks, albeit fancy toothpicks with the French flag draped on them. And very tasty cheese it was too.

I even kept some of the toothpicks as souvenirs. Journalists are shameless scroungers!

The French Film Festival is Australia’s largest foreign language film festival, attracting some 160,000 patrons. This year, the 28th year in its history,  the festival will be screening in:

  • Sydney (March 7-30)
  • Melbourne (March 8-30)
  • Canberra (March 9-April 4)
  • Perth (March 15-April 50
  • Brisbane (March 16-April 9)
  • Adelaide (March 30-April 23)
  • Hobart (March 30-April 8)
  • Parramatta (April 6-9)
  • Casula (April 8-9)

Here is the official festival trailer, plus trailers of some films that will be featured. Looks good!

Here’s one for those who like snorkelling, scuba diving and Audrey Tautou.

Here’s one for those who like period dramas, loopy families and Juliette Binoche.

Here’s one for those who like Mr Wrongs, Mr Rights and Marion Cottilard.

Another award for Elle at the Goyas; The Distinguished Citizen is distinguished

The French rape-revenge film Elle, for which Isabelle Huppert won a Golden Globe and is in the running for the best actress Oscar, picked up Spain’s Goya Award for Best European Film, beating films from the UK and the Hungarian film Son of Saul, which won the Oscar for Best Foreign Film last year. Despite Huppert’s performance, Elle did not make the Oscar nominations for Best Foreign film this year.

Having been to South America recently, I was curious to see which film would win the Goya for Best Spanish Language Foreign Film – the four films in contention were from Argentina, Colombia, Mexico and Venezuela.

The winner was El Ciudadano Ilustre (The Distinguished Citizen), a comedy from Argentina.

One to look out for should it ever come your way.

The Venezuelan film, Desde Allá (From Afar) was a strong contender, having won the Golden Lion at the 2015 Venice Film Festival. Its topic is confronting.

 

Alexandra Stan wants you to listen, Indila wants you to wait a bit more

Recently I heard a song that’s a mix of French and English by Romanian singer Alexandra Stan. It reminded me in parts of one of the most popular French singers of late, Indila, so I thought it worth sharing. It’s called Écoute, which means “listen”.

In truth there is not much French in the song, but hey, we have to be grateful for what we get, which in this case is the chorus.

Écoute, écoute, écoute-moi
Et suis la route après ma voie
Tu sais bien que je suis là pour toi
Écoute, écoute, écoute-moi

Alexandra is best known for her hit Mr Saxobeat, which was massive – and I mean MASSIVE – in some parts of the world in 2011. For me it was one of those songs that can irritate and yet prove infectious (like Macarena, for example)

In the meantime I (and I am sure many other fans) are waiting for something new from Indila – it’s been three years since her remarkable debut album Mini World and singles such as S.O.S and Dernière Danse made their mark. Still, she has been promising on her Twitter account for a while now that her second album is due out soon. Just to refresh your memories of her, here is one of the other singles from that album.

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More sultry songs from Coeur de Pirate

pirateHello, me hearties, it’s time we caught up with Coeur de Pirate. So read on otherwise you will have to walk the plank!

Coeur de Pirate (“Heart of a Pirate”) is the nom de plume of French-Canadian singer Béatrice Martin, who has had album and single chart success in Europe as well as Canada. The last time she featured her was in mid-2014 in the post The sultry songs of Coeur de Pirate. Those songs are well worth revisiting.

Since then, in late August 2015, she has released another album, Roses, which went to number two on the Canadian charts, and made the top 10 in both France and Belgium and the top 20 in Switzerland. This time, though, more than half the tracks are in English. Here are some songs from Roses, and you can get translations of her lyrics into various languages from this page on the Lyrics Translate website.

The first single from the album was Oublie Moi, (“Forget me“). It’s jaunty.

Coeur de Pirate did an English version of the song, using the title Carry On.

A good review of the album and interview with Coeur de Pirate discussing the inspiration behind it can be found here.

I really like Crier tout bas, which was the third single from the album. The title’s meaning is contradictory (in the same way that “more haste, less speed” would appear to be) – Crier tout bas means shout in a very low voice, or scream softly. The French lyrics are at bottom.

Crier tout bas

Je t’ai vu tracer le long du paysage
Une ligne des aimés qui détruisent ton langage
Et quand tu chantais plus fort dans ton silence
Je voyais les larmes couler toujours à contresens

Mais quand les saisons attendront ton retour
Ce sera le vent qui portera secours

Et si la terre est sombre, et si la pluie te noie
Raconte-moi qu’on puisse trembler ensemble
Et si le jour ne vient pas dans la nuit des perdus
Raconte-moi qu’on puisse crier tout bas

J’ai voulu calmer ton souffle qui s’étouffait
Des courses vers le vide, ton rire qui soupirait
Si tu mets le cap vers des eaux restant troubles
Je serai le phare qui te guidera toujours

Mais quand les saisons attendront ton retour
Ce sera le vent qui portera secours

Et si la terre est sombre, et si la pluie te noie
Raconte-moi qu’on puisse trembler ensemble
Et si le jour ne vient pas dans la nuit des perdus
Raconte-moi qu’on puisse crier tout bas

Je t’ai vu tracer le long du paysage
Une ligne des aimés qui détruisent ton langage
Et quand tu chantais plus fort dans ton silence
Je voyais les larmes couler toujours à contresens

Et si la terre est sombre, et si la pluie te noie
Raconte-moi qu’on puisse trembler ensemble
Et si le jour ne vient pas dans la nuit des perdus
Raconte-moi qu’on puisse crier tout bas

 

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The foreigners at the BAFTAs

After the recent excitement of the Golden Globes, attention turned today to the BAFTA nominations. The British Academy of Film And Television Arts released its list of 2017 award nominees and, as expected the Hollywood musical La La Land dominated, scoring 11 nominations.

The foreign language film contenders did not include the Golden Globe-winning French film Elle, because it has not yet opened in England, so it will probably be a contender in the 2018 BAFTAs.

But there were French connections. One of the nominees was Dheepan, which looks at the lives of Tamils fleeing Sri Lanka to settle in France. Cheerful stuff!

Spanish is another Romance language that gets a role at the BAFTAs, in the form of Pedro Almodóvar’s Julieta.

I am a great fan of Pedro Almodóvar and will always go to see his films at the cinema, but I must confess  Julieta left me a little cold. That said, I have friends who have raved about it.

Turkish-born French director  Deniz Gamze Ergüven’s Mustang (in Turkish), which was an Oscar contender last year and also won four César awards in 2016, is also a BAFTA contender, as is the 2016 best foreign film Oscar winner Son of Saul (in Hungarian). Completing the list is the German comedy Toni Erdmann, which I will talk about in a later post.

The BAFTA awards will take place in London on February 12.

French triumph at Golden Globes

As well as La La Land (which is an excellent film in many ways), the Golden Globes were a notable success for the French film industry. Isabelle Huppert beat the other (English-speaking) nominees to win the award for best actress in a drama for her role in Elle, which was lauded as best foreign film.

Elle was released in Australia in late October, but it is still showing on some screens in Sydney at least, and no doubt it get more screenings in various parts of the world as a result of its success today. It’s a gritty nail-biter of a movie.

Her win was a surprise, and her heart was pumping as much at the Globes awards ceremony as it might have been when she was first confronted by her attacker in Elle.

Another French film, Divines, was among the five nominations for best foreign film, but it focuses on the dubious deeds of a much younger generation.

For those interested in Romance languages, a Spanish film Neruda, was also nominated, as were films from Iran and Germany. Having recently been in Chile, and being a big fan of Gael García Bernal, I am looking forward to seeing Nerudawhich will get a commercial screening in Australia later this year.

Finally, it wasn’t nominated for a Golden Globe, but if you get the chance to see the French film Rosalie Blum (which opened in Australia on Boxing Day) I do recommend it. It’s got everything I love about the French film industry – it turns real people leading ordinary human lives into the extraordinary, with great wit and warmth, sadness and poignancy.

 

 

 

 

Frenchmania – A French night in Bucharest

If you have ever wondered how French sounds when spoken or sung by a Romanian (yes, you have thought about this a lot, haven’t you) well here is your chance to find out.

The Institut Française Roumanie in Bucharest recently held a musical gala to promote the French language, and les meilleurs artistes roumains sont venus chanter (top Romanian artists came along to sing). For some, it was quite a challenge, as Dorian Popa explains in a mix of French and Romanian before doing a cover of Maître Gims’ Bella.

If you are not familiar with Maître Gims, you should be! Read about him on my post Sounds of France via Africa. Here is the original version of Bella.

Dorian Popa is a popular pop-rap singer in Romania  who is also well known for his rippling muscles, bulging pecs and formidable six-pack. I’ve selected this clip of this duet with Ruby because it has a lot of footage in Paris and I prefer it to his solo efforts.

So, who else took part in the French soirée? One singer I really like, Keo (I will do a post  on him shortly) does a great cover of Le Vent Nous Portera (The wind will take/carry us), which was a big hit in Europe for the group Noir Désir in 2001.

Adrian (Adi) Despot, who is a member of the band Vița de Vi, did a cover of one of my favourite songs by the band Indochine, Tes Yeux Noirs (Your black eyes).

Here’s Indochine doing the much loved song at one of their tremendous gigs.

I also really like this version, recorded with an orchestra in Hanoi.

A French concert wouldn’t be a French concert without a really romantic ballad. Cornel Ilie, the lead singer of Vunk, steps up for a rendition of Je Te Le Dis Quand Même (I’ll tell you anyway).

Here is the version released in by Patrick Bruel, a prolific French actor and singer.

This upbeat live version shows how well the song has stood the test of time.

Alexandra Ungureanu came on stage to do I Need You More which has verses in French.

Here is the single version that she did with Crush and Leslie. It’s chirpy!

To finish, here’s Keo again, to say he loved you, he loves you and will love you.

That song was originally a single released in 1994 by Francis Cabral. Here is a clip from YouTube which has Romanian subtitles.

 

C’est fini, bonne nuit!