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French cultural life - February 2019

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

1. Baby love

Receiving glowing critical acclaim is Pupille (English title In Safe Hands), a devastatingly tender and touching drama by Jeanne Henry about the administrative mosaic and emotional turmoil for all concerned in the adoption process of a baby, Theo, given up at birth by his young mother in Brest, Brittany.

Acting heavyweights excel: Gilles Lellouche as the temporary new ‘Dad’; Sandrine Kiberlain as the child protection officer; and Elodie Bouchez (above, with Lellouche) in a compelling turn as the childless woman ready and waiting to transform the child’s life for the better.

StudioCanal will release the film in English at a date to be confirmed.


2. Kings and Queen of the charts

2018 was the year that Nantes singer Héloïse Letissier, known professionally as Christine and the Queens (and latterly Chris), made big waves in the UK. Her second album reached the top 10 in September and then end-of year round-ups in the NME and The Independent chose it among their year-end ‘best ofs’.

She is an example of the ‘international export’ success of French electro acts, including when they sing in French rather than English.

Topping streaming platforms Spotify and Deezer in France were two rappers, the Belgian Damso and Jul.


3. Fair figures make for good reading

Young literature fans turned out in large numbers to attend the latest Montreuil Children’s Book and Young Press Fair in Paris.

A record 179,000 attended the six-day celebration, with a significant increase in family audience numbers (there was free admission for under 18s.

Among the attendees were 28,000 local schoolchildren who enjoyed workshops, readings and meeting 126 authors.

The fair also provides illustrators with a shop window to publishers, and also gives out awards, such as the La Pépite d’Or awarded by the jury of literary critics to Raphaële Frier and Julien Martinière for their graphic book Le Tracas de Blaise about a man who turns into a bear. (see illustration, left).


4. Soulages exposed

Musée Soulages, the Rodez (Aveyron) museum featuring the work of the town’s most famous artistic son Pierre Soulages, is displaying 118 career-spanning paper works, some for the first time.

Made using walnut stain, charcoal, Chinese ink or gouache, the pieces will be preserved thanks to a €40,000 donation from the BNP Paribas Foundation. 

“Some of these papers have never been taken out of Pierre Soulages’ drawers,” said Benoît Decron, museum curator.

The Ruthenois artist is best known for his Outrenoir (‘Beyond Black’) paintings.


5. Kings of Lyon

France’s biggest animated miniature world park in Lyon has opened the latest phase of its intricately crafted tiny replica of city’s best loved areas – scaled at 1:87.

In April, Mini World presented the first part of its exhibition, a replica of the Lyon Peninsula from Place Bellecour to Terreaux. Next it unveiled Old Lyon, Fourvière and Saint-Jean and just before Christmas it revealed the Part-Dieu district, the Parc de la Tête d’Or and the quays of the Rhône river.

Especially tricky to get right, say organisers, was reproducing the thousands of windows of the Tower of Part-Dieu skyscraper, while Notre-Dame de Fourvière, with its stained glass windows, took four months of work.

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