As 2015 comes to a close and the promise of 2016 lies ahead, this winter season is a time for reflection and renewal.
When we look back on a year punctuated by two large-scale tragedies in France, we must equally consider our resilience and unity in the face these challenges, as well as the persevering spirit of culture. We are endlessly grateful to the many Americans who sent us messages of love and support during the dark times, and the solidarity has left us more committed than ever to our projects in the United States. We hope to expand our mission to share culture with our American friends, as well as to facilitate discussions of pertinent international topics, student exchanges, and bilingual schools.
This year was filled with more opportunities than ever to spread art and literature. In April, our all-night Nuit de la Philosophie attracted thousands of visitors, eager to enjoy lectures, film and performance art. The second annual Festival Albertine in November brought together thinkers and arts enthusiasts from all over the globe, with riveting discussion on everything from graphic novels to feminism. Culture expanded to the digital sphere in November during the inaugural session of French-American Digital Lab // Connecting Cultures, co-produced with Business France. Over the course of 10 days, burgeoning startups in the cultural sector attended talks and visited sites featuring world-renowned leaders in the cultural and tech industries including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New Inc., and YouTube.
For 2016, I’m pleased to announce a new round of programming with the same dynamic ethos. Following the incredible feedback from the first Digital Lab, two additional sessions will be held in the coming year: in New York, for French startups, and in Paris, for American startups.
Our strong literary emphasis also resumes with French authors touring in the United States, including Jean-Pierre Filliu, a renowned Arabist and Islam expert, who will visit Albertine Books in January, with other engagements in Washington DC and Boston. Muriel Barbery, author of international bestseller The Elegance of the Hedgehog, will also visit Albertine in February. The conversation continues in San Francisco, where two eminent French scholars on gender and sexuality, Elisabeth Lebovici and Colin Giraud, will participate in the “Gender in Translation” forum, held at the California College of the Arts.
Against the backdrop of the Association of Performing Arts Presenters (APAP) conference in New York in January, dance holds a prominent place this season. Four of the most daring dance companies in France will perform to the public in the U.S.: Compagnie Oktobre (New York), Jonathan Capdevielle (New York), L’amicale de Production (New York, Minneapolis), and Dorothée Munyaneza (New York, Los Angeles).
In Chicago, Paris-based curators Aliocha Imhoff and Kantuta Quiros will join the Méthode Room residency program, the second installation of the exciting partnership between Guillaume Désanges and Theaster Gates’ Rebuild Foundation. Founders of the curatorial platform, a people is missing – le peuple qui manque, Imhoff and Quiros will produce a three-part project that includes an exhibition, a film and a symposium performance at the newly opened Stony Island Arts Bank.
Film programming is a much-loved part of Cultural Services, and this season does not disappoint with the highly-anticipated Jane and Charlotte Forever series, held at the Film Society of Lincoln Center from January 29th to February 7th. Celebrating the adventurous film roles of Jane Birkin and her daughter Charlotte Gainsbourg, the series includes many introductions, Q&As and post-screening discussions with the actresses themselves.
Another year of French musical tours in the U.S. kicks off on New Years Eve, with electro shows in New York featuring Gesaffelstein and Justice in Brooklyn, and Klingande and Tchami at Webster Hall. Techno DJs Brodinski and Louisahhh!!! will spin at Holy Ship in Florida from January 3 – 6, and the French Quarter Jazz Festival returns to New York in mid-January at various venues. We’re particularly looking forward to the U.S. tour of the Orchestre National de France, which will take to Boston, New York, New Jersey, and Washington D.C. and the end of January.
Our 2015 l’Ecole des Loisirs celebration ushered in a new emphasis on children’s programming, which we continue in 2016 with Tilt Kids Festival, co-produced with French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF). Spanning over two months, Tilt connects children with sophisticated art forms in fun and accessible ways. Hands-on workshops will feature world-renowned circus performers, musicians, choreographers, and even restauranters, as kids congregate in iconic locations such as Invisible Dog Art Center and BAM.
French and francophone culture is thriving on U.S. university campuses thanks to the inaugural France on Campus award, launched with Kickstarter and OrgSync with the support of director Wes Anderson. The grand prize of $3000 was presented to students at Queens College of the City University of New York, who are launching a French-English guidebook on francophone places in all five boroughs of New York City. Overall we were amazed by the creativity and the diversity of the 10 total awarded projects, which include a dance performance inspired by francophone authors from the Caribbean and the Antilles, an app for French wine, a series of writing workshops and live events centered on French Slam poetry, and a program of events on the French press. With the support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Partner University Fund is opening the 2016 Call for Projects in the Humanities. French and American universities are welcome to submit joint innovative collaborations of excellence in research and education by March 13, 2016.
Finally, our bilingual education program is breaking new ground. With a fundraising initiative in place for the School for International Studies in Boerhum Hill, Brooklyn, we are anticipating the very first dual language International Baccalaureate curriculum in a U.S. public school. With the new French-English high school program in place, a New York City child can now complete their public education from kindergarten through 12th grade in a French dual language setting—great news for our communities!
I’m looking forward to another arts and culture-filled year with all of you. I wish you safe and happy holidays and a wonderful winter.
Deputy Cultural Counselor
Sunset Park, 274 36th Street, Brooklyn, NY 11232