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French cultural life - December 2018

A round-up of news, and those creating ‘le buzz’ in French cultural life

1. A family affair

The directorial debut by actress Romane Bohringer is a contender for best ‘Life imitates art’ film of the year, with a subject matter exceedingly ‘close to home’.

Amour Flou (Fuzzy Love), co-written and co-starring Bohringer’s real-life ex-husband Philippe Rebbot, tells the story of a couple, no longer ‘in love’ but who still love each other, who decide to separate, but carry on living in conjoining apartments. Only their childrens’ rooms separate them – the ‘air lock’ they call it – and even the kids and the family dog play ‘versions’ of themselves.

This family comedy is inspired by the amusing experiences the couple encountered during their own separation, and makes for an off-beat modern comedy, with the kids’ interests to the fore.

2. It’s a rap!

The maxim ‘there’s no such thing as bad publicity’ certainly rings true for one of France’s most popular rappers, Booba.

Along with his entourage, this summer he was involved in a very public bust-up at Orly airport with rival rapper Kaaris. Footage of the unsavoury scenes, which saw fists and duty-frees flying, was widely shared on social media and resulted in the pair appearing before a judge. Both received 18-month suspended sentences and fines of €50,000.

Booba’s fans, however, were less outraged – 32,000 of them were in raptures as the rapper, who has enjoyed a 20-year career, played a sell-out show at Paris La Défense Arena in October.

His latest single ‘BB’ topped streaming platform charts in France.

3. Art on the walls, not just canvases

A new trend among museums and art galleries in France is to project artworks onto walls so that visitors can better appreciate the brushwork detail and skills of the artists.

The idea is that the grandeur and funky layouts of spectacular displays lure those who do not normally visit galleries.

Among the pioneers is Paris’ first digital art museum, the Atelier des Lumières, housed in a former warehouse. Its Gustav Klimt show has proven so popular it has been extended until January 6.

The paintings are projected up to 10 metres high and enhanced by a bespoke soundtrack featuring Beethoven and Chopin, piped in through loud speakers.

“I am convinced that the marriage of art and digital technology is the future of the dissemination of art among future generations,” said the museum’s director Michael Couzigou.

4. Fashion life’s a beach

Fashion house Chanel’s seasonal shows at the Grand Palais in Paris are not only eagerly awaited for their clothing trends – every spectacular transformation of the building itself is also much-anticipated.

In the past, Karl Lagerfeld and his team have turned the vast space into a supermarket and a rocket ship.

October’s Paris Fashion Week show, however, trumped the lot – it became an indoor ‘Paris Plage’ complete with tonnes of sand and even real waves lapping at models’ bare feet. Lagerfeld waved from a beach hut at the end of the show.

5. Hallyday’s record of love and rock

The first (but not the last, can we presume?) posthumous album by Johnny Hallyday, who died in December 2017, broke the singer’s first-day sales record when it was released on October 19. Mon pays, c’est l’amour (Love is my country) sold 300,000 copies in one day. 100,000 copies had been ordered pre-release.

200 devoted fans of the rocker waited until midnight at the Fnac store on the Champs-Elysees, which was specially opened for the occasion.

His previous biggest launch day seller was 1999’s Sang pour Sang, an album written by his son David which went on to be Hallyday’s career biggest seller.

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