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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: La « francofffonie » fait son festival - Victor Hache

by By Victor Hache

«La francofffonie» Celebrates

Translated by Françoise Herrmann

Translated Monday 23 January 2006, by Françoise

« La francofffonie » gets a festival.
French language. For seven months, France will celebrate the wealth and diversity of cultures arising from la francophonie, the French speaking community worldwide.

France has decided to honor la francophonie, the French speaking community worldwide. Or more precisely, it has decided to celebrate “les francoffonies”, spelt with three “f”s, to send out the message of French cultures fortissimo to the world. And now Jacques Chirac, energized with the concept of la francophonie, “the pioneer of cultural diversity which is one of the great battles of our time”, is also celebrating. “La francophonie is sizzling (...). It is re-inventing the concept of modern » the President reminded us yesterday, who, in 2002, at the Francophonie Summit in Beirut, had launched the idea of a festival linked to the plurality of French speaking cultures. The Minister of Culture, Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres, also had much cause to rejoice, when he introduced, on Thursday, next to the former President of Senegal, Abdou Diouf, Secretary General of the International Organization of Francophonie (IOF), the Festival of Francophonie in France (FFF), running from March to October, and designed to highlight the plurality of cultures of the 63 countries with a membership to the IOF.

La Francophonie thus hopes that its voice will ring louder in concert with nations that are often dominated by Anglo-Saxon modes of thinking. Even if only 5% of web pages are francophone, French still remains, in conjunction with English, one of two languages spoken on every continent. There are 175 million French speakers in the world, with the majority registered on the African continent. This is more than in Europe, in the amount of 11 % compared to the global population. As for the total population count of the member states of the IOF, there are 710 million people. This is to highlight the number of people worldwide who are concerned with “sharing French”. And for the least chauvinistic among us, this is quite satisfying.

Wealth and vitality

The Francophone Festival in France will mirror the creative forces it represents - artists, filmmakers, intellectuals, and scientists - gathered from all around the world. They will uncover the vitality and wealth of the cultural universe of francophone space, rejecting the uniformity that comes with globalization: “The mission of this festival is to highlight the realities of Francophonie worldwide, the vitality and wealth of the people who sustain this reality. It is also designed to illustrate the battle for equal dignity of cultures” emphasized Monique Veaute, General Commissioner for Francofffonies. Literature, music, films, theatre, dance, visual arts, design, architecture and photography, all domains of the arts will be covered by the numerous artists who participate in the event. A multidisciplinary approach is designed to foster better understanding of the world today, while allowing the players of francophonie to share their cultural roots.

Opening in March

Francofffonies festivities will be launched during the next book convention Le salon du livre, where 40 writers from every corner of the francophone universe have received special invitations. Spring for Poets will feature francophone poems including those of Léopold Sedar Senghor, who will be honored. The week dedicated to French language in the schools will display as ever all of the francophone colors while promoting dialog and exchanges.

Music will also be a part of the festivities. The 25th anniversary of the Music Festival, on June 25, will offer an opportunity to express vibrant francophone trends. The applies to the ethnic music festival held in Angoulème in May. In July, the Parc de la Villette will dedicate a weekend to francophonie with music, storytelling and films. In La Rochelle, the Francofolies, an event that has gained recognition as one of the most important festivals dedicated to French song, will welcome a show of artists from abroad called “DOM TOM Folies”. It is really impossible to list all of the events, but there are promises within this context for a “surprise event” at the next Cannes Film Festival, which has always strived to bring recognition to talent, film forms and genres from elsewhere. Finally, in September, one month following the conclusion of the Francophone Festival in France, the Quebec Show will open at the Châtelet theatre, a big evening event dedicated to a meeting of Quebec artists. This is quite an adventure for contemporary francophonie. And one month following UNESCO’s ratification of the Convention for the Protection and Support of Diversity in Cultural Expressions, this is certainly not the end of the story.
For information about the Francophone Festival in France visit: www.francofffonies.fr.

Victor Hache

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