Franch festival better than ever

Updated: 2015-03-03 06:56

By Wang Kaihao(China Daily)

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China's top French cultural festival is planning to broaden it's reach in the hope it will reach a wider section of the Chinese public.

The recently revealed program of the 10th Croisements Festival boasts more than 100 events, covering 10 disciplines, including visual art, theater, and new media. It is to be staged in more than 20 cities across the Chinese mainland from April 10 to July 10. It is the largest French cultural festival outside of France and the largest foreign cultural festival in China.

The festival was founded in 2006, following the Franco-Chinese cultural exchange at the initiative of state leaders from both countries. Originally only held in a handful of major cities, today it is held across the country. Statics from the French embassy in Beijing show that more than 8 million people have participated in the festival.

The festival's curators say demand from Chinese audiences is strong.

"A few years ago, we decided to focus more on innovative programs, because we really need to give the festival added value," Anthony Chaumuzeau, counselor of cultural cooperation and activity at French embassy in Beijing, says.

"Chinese people know France for its history and cultural heritage, but France is not just the country of Louis XIV, Claude Monet, or 1960s New Wave cinema. We really want to surprise people. We have a shopping cart to select the artists and companies, and we do matchmaking with Chinese partners."

Last year, the ninth Croisements Festival, which celebrated the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the People's Republic of China and France, witnessed a series of top-level events, such as Ten Masterpieces of French Painting that exhibited in the National Museum of China in Beijing. These events have left the organizers with some high expectations to present something equally as impressive this year.

Some new disciplines have been added to the program. Installation art exhibition, Telofossils, takes a philisophical look at what the technological age will leave for future generations. Telofossils is part of the new media category of the festival and it will be held in Beijing and Wuhan, capital of Hubei province.

At the multimedia music concert SmartFaust, Chinese audiences in Beijing, Wuhan, and Sichuan provincial capital Chengdu will have a chance to use their smartphones to interact with the performance.

A culinary design section, which is probably still a new term for most Chinese people, will gather artists from both countries to display their aesthetic creativity with food in Beijing, Shanghai, and Wuhan.

"Culinary design has become an independent discipline in some French colleges. Although China may not have any college courses in the art, Chinese people's rich culinary culture will give the two country's artists a basis for cooperation to show their common respect for food," says Berenice Angremy, one of the festival curators, and the cultural attache from the embassy.

Chaumuzeau admits it may take Chinese audiences some time to understand modern French art at first, but he is optimistic that the presence of such exhibitions and shows in China will gradually nurture background knowledge among the public.

The cultural counselor also reveals that in the future the festival is planning to include more fields designed to appeal to the Chinese public, such as architecture and fashion.

"It's important to develop links between art and the creative industries. Some designers are not that well-known by the general public, but they've already had a lot of wonderful projects in China."

Chaumuzeau says China's mushrooming cultural infrastructure and the public's rising interest in modern foreign culture are also good for the festival.

"When the festival first began, people probably didn't expect so many big projects within ten years. It's equally difficult to imagine what we can do in another 10 years," he says, smiling.

(China Daily 03/03/2015 page22)