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French connection forged through art

Sixteen cities, 150 shows, 300 artistes. After two winters, the Festival of France is back with the greeting, Bonjour (good day) India. The event, organised by the Institut Français and the French Embassy in India, in association with Alliance Française India and the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), is a kaleidoscopic representation of French culture.

“This time, the biggest difference from the inaugural edition is the stress on collaborations with Indian artistes,” said Thierry Robert, the deputy head of the Institut Francais in India, on Monday.

The next Calcutta event is Ganga, a Franco-Indian choreographic piece uniting poetry, music and dance, at ICCR on January 31.

At Monday’s press meet at the Floatel, Brigitte Chataigner performed impromptu in the backdrop of the river. “Ganga explores the feminine intensity of the water and of women through the flow of the river depicted through the flow of dance,” said the dancer trained in Mohiniyattam and the contemporary style.

The biggest event to take place here would be Gates to India Song, appropriately set in 1930s Calcutta, to be staged on February 26, 27 and 28 at Jorasanko Thakurbari. The stage adaptation, produced for Bonjour India by director Eric Vigner, journeys through India Song and The Vice-Consul by Marguerite Duras, the great French author. Indian actors will embody French characters with Nandita Das essaying the role of Anne-Marie Stretter, the wife of the French ambassador in India, caught in passion play with a disgraced French diplomat.

A lavish dinner, designed by chef Stephane Mathonneau, will be hosted on February 16 at Hyatt Regency with the proceeds going to NGOs working for victims of trafficking. “We are expecting to raise Rs 3-6 lakh,” said consul-general Fabrice Etienne. The next day one can sample French market-style lunch at the same venue.

Students eager to study in France can meet representatives of higher education institutes on February 7 at The Park. “We already have 400 online registrations,” said Etienne.

A crop of 2012 French releases will be screened at Nandan from March 8 to 10.

The final event on Bonjour India’s city calendar is an evening of baroque music by the orchestra Amarillis at Tollygunge Club on March 24.