French cultural life - May 2019

A round up of the arts and culture stories creating a buzz in France: Eurovision, Magoo and Dalí too

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1. Magoo return far from short-sighted

Much-loved US cartoon character Mr Magoo has made a comeback to TV screens – thanks to the Xilam production company in France’s cartoon capital Angoulême (Charente), which worked in partnership with Dreamworks.

Created in 1949, Mr Quincy Magoo was a wealthy, myopic, accidental hero created by Millard Kaufman and John Hubley, who were victims of the McCarthy anti-Communist witch hunt. His misanthropic rants were meant to serve as a barely-concealed protest.

A 1997 film version starred Airplane! star Leslie Nielsen as Mr Magoo, while the 78 new cartoon episodes – aimed at 6-11 year olds – began airing on France 4 this spring.

2. Friends reunited

Box office success in France is measured by number of tickets sold as opposed to receipts, and Guillaume Canet’s 2010 film Petits Mouchoirs – about a bunch of friends who decide to go ahead with a stay at a holiday home at Cap Ferret despite a tragedy prior to their trip – did brisk business. 5.5million people saw it, so the follow-up, out now, was inevitable.

A glittering cast of French A-listers (Marion Cotillard, François Cluzet, Jean Dujardin, Gilles Lellouche, Laurent Lafitte and Benoît Magimel) have reunited for Nous Finirons Ensemble (We will end up together).

The most eagerly awaited film sequel of the year is set in the Bay of Arcachon...

3. Will France reign at Eurovision?

France will be represented at this year’s Eurovison Song Contest by Bilal Hassani, a Paris-born singer of Moroccan descent who gained popularity by posting his songs on YouTube.

In 2015, he took part in The Voice Kids, a TV talent show for youngsters. He won the right to represent France at Eurovision with his song Roi (King) following a public vote in January this year.

In the song he affirms his strong sense of self-worth. He is openly gay and has been the victim of homophobic and
racist abuse, especially online.

The final of the annual televised competition (France 2) will be held in Tel Aviv, Israel on Saturday May 18. Forty-one countries will be participating.

France is one of only seven countries to have participated since the first competition in 1956 and has won it five times.

4. Amazon brought to book

An independent bookseller at Epinal’s (Vosges) railway station has won the right to force Amazon to move its delivery locker from outside the building, following a complaint to the town’s mayor.

The station is located in a protected area and the town’s planning code contains a request for authorization from the town hall, along with the qualified opinion of an architect from Bâtiments de France.

“When I see people taking pictures of the covers of my books and then ordering them on the Internet, I see red!” said Isabelle Colin from Le Quai des mots.

Last year, SNCF signed a deal with the internet giant to install 1,000 of the yellow lockers around the country. They are used by online buyers, who use a code to collect purchases.

5. The art show of the summer

A major exhibition featuring the work of Spanish surrealist and lobster lover Salvador Dalí looks set to be a must-see for art lovers on the French Riviera.

To mark the 30th anniversary of the artist’s death, Grimaldi Forum’s Espace Ravel in Monaco will host Dalí, A history of painting from July 6 to September 8.

Curated by Montse Aguer, Director of the Dalí Museums, the show traces Dalí’s extraordinary creative journey via paintings, drawings and photographs dated from 1910 to 1983. The show concludes with a look at his legacy and influence.

Visitors arriving in the Principality for the day can gain entry to the exhibition for just €9 upon presentation of their train ticket.