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French cultural digest: December

Frock and awe at YSL museum, Van Gogh brush stokes and Fip hits the right Twitter notes

1. Dressing to thrill

First, two major biopics of Yves Saint Laurent’s life came out in the same year, 2014, six years after his death aged 71. Now, just weeks after the passing of the revered designer’s former companion and business partner, Pierre Bergé, two more dedication projects have come to fruition. Musée Yves Saint Laurent Paris enjoyed a glittering opening at the former fashion house on Avenue Marceau, Paris, with Catherine Deneuve and Charlotte Gainsbourg in attendance – 35,000 objets (sketches, photos, dresses and so much more) will please fans. Meanwhile travelling fashionistas can enjoy other collected artefacts at the Marrakech spin-off – YSL first visited in 1966, had a home there and found lots of creative inspiration in Morocco.

2. Different strokes by different folks

Stare at a Van Gogh painting for too long and the brushstrokes can take on a psychedelic energy. Imagine, then, a whole feature film of 65,000 hand-painted Van Goghs animated over the top of live action footage into a swirling, dizzying explosion of colour. 120 oil painters (pictured) worked for seven years on Loving Vincent –released in France, where it was made with TF1 money, as La Passion Van Gogh – which imagines the painter’s last weeks in Auvers-sur-Oise. Beyond technique, the film reconsiders Van Gogh’s death from many angles, including the possibility that he was murdered.

3. Battle of the TV festivals set to begin
With some of France’s top politicians and TV executives installed in power positions, regional leaders dishing out huge grants, Hollywood A-listers being primed as potential guests and million-euro distribution deals at stake, two new television festivals will compete head to head just ten days apart in April 2018.

In one corner, Cannes Festival of Series with former French minister of culture and communication Fleur Pellerin in charge. In the other, former Canal+ second-in-command Rodolphe Belmer (who oversaw brilliant original series such as Engrenages and Les Revenants) will preside over the inaugural Séries Mania Lille-Hauts de France.

The latter has won both state and regional funding to the tune of €5million. The gloves may come off...

4. Artful lodgers
The idea that young, aspiring and perhaps broke artists might require a helping hand and a friendly place to stay for little or no money is common throughout art history. From the likes of Picasso and Léger leaving works of art as a thank-you or in lieu of rent to the Colombe d’Or in Saint-Paul de Vence, to Jean-François Millet and his Barizon School cohorts benefitting from generous room rates at the Canne Auberge, it is a scheme that suits both parties.

Now for the modern era, this unique trade-off has an organised, searchable online platform called Host An Artist. Art lovers with spare rooms or second homes advertise space and the painter or sculptor stays for free before leaving a work of art or lessons as payment (this is negotiated). France currently has 143 locations to choose from.

5. Fip hits all the right notes

Twitter founder Jack Dorsey gave the small French radio station FIP a major piece of (we presume) free publicity recently by tweeting “Best radio in the world. Always perfectly tuned in.” He added a link to the station’s website for the benefit of his 4.1 million followers. “Wow, thank you”, replied the FIP team before inviting Dorsey to visit the Maison de la Radio HQ. He replied that he would do so “the next time he is in Paris”.

FIP (France Inter Paris) was founded in 1971, and remains DJ-free with a selection of genres (Rock, Jazz and World among them) available to stream online and via the FM frequency in 10 French cities. These include Paris, Toulouse, Nantes, Bordeaux, Lyon and Lille.

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