If you’ve always wanted to go to the land of wine, cheese and baguettes, but haven’t had the means, we’ve got the next best thing for you right here in KL. What else could it be but Le French Festival, which makes a triumphant return in April, complete with a packed programme that will make you believe you’re on the banks of the Seine enjoying a café au lait.
“French culture is a pleasure that needs to be shared,” says H.E. Frederic Laplanche, French Ambassador to Malaysia; and that’s exactly what this well established event has been doing for the past 17 years. Just as a younger generation of leaders recently took hold of the reins in France, so has this year’s LFF been put together by a fresh team, resulting in the biggest festival to date.
No less than 40 artistes are being flown in from France to dish out French culture in spades – performing arts, visual art, music, gastronomy and of course film are all on the table. There’s something happening every day of the festival which begins its run on 12 April and extends through to 6 May in the capital.
A cornerstone of Le French Festival has always been the film component with screenings happening all throughout the festival. Cinephiles can feast their eyes on a total of 16 motion pictures that showcase the sophistication of French filmography.
From side-splitting comedies and hard-hitting dramas to animated features, this year’s range is Oscar worthy. Notable flicks include Le Sens De La Fete, a comedy centring on the head of a catering company whose plans to stage the perfect wedding at a 17th-century chateau fall apart by the minute, and Django, a biopic which follows the life of brilliant French Romani jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt in Nazi-occupied Paris.
The stage comes alive with theatre productions for the first time this year, one of which is an adaption from Austrian novelist Stefan Zweig’s novella Amok, and stars French actor Alexis Moncorgé. Ingrained with psychoanalytical elements, the story centres on a young doctor that flees Indonesia because of a dark secret eating away at him – a fascinating study into madness and obsession.
If you prefer something on the lighter side, check out thespian crew Kopi Theatre which presents a whimsical play that turns a tragic event into a comical experience.Art
Photography enthusiasts will want to check out two exhibitions. Rendez-Vous with French Cinema by Jean-Baptiste Le Mercier shows us some of France’s most famous onscreen faces in a different light. His portraits contain a certain je ne sais quoi that captures individuals in a unique style.
Another camera pro making his mark is Chris Morin Eitner, who lets his imagination run wild in shots that displace famous landmarks to fantastical environments. His Once Upon A Time Tomorrow exhibition will also feature iconic KL locations.
Representing the Tricolour to the fullest this year is the Bagad de Lann-Bihoué, the traditional pipe band of the French Navy founded 60 years ago. It’s all bagpipes, bombardes (a conical woodwind instrument) and drums as they play time-honoured music from the region of Brittany.
More contemporary sounds can be heard from electro-pop DJ Romea at Pisco Bar, post-rock band Lysistrata at The Bee and piano twosome Duo Jatekok at No Black Tie – the last performing classical-jazz numbers off their just-dropped album Les Boys.
There’s plenty happening on the food front with cognac and wine tastings, mixology workshops, and cooking classes. Join Chef Lioneil DG of the Alliance Française or Chef Nathalie Arbefeuille at Nathalie Gourmet Studio for master classes, and if you want to learn how to craft some captivating cocktails, Martell brand ambassador Pierre Boyer will show you how.
Meanwhile, a vertical wine tasting session gives you the chance to taste eight different vintages from the same winery, in this case Château de Lafont. Owners Nicolas and Olivier Di Tullio will be on hand to explain how factors like weather impact the wine from one year to the next.
As you can see, Le French Festival 2018 offers a potpourri of events that bring out the best in French culture for everyone to explore. Here you can discover the joie de vivre, or ‘enjoyment for life’, the French are famous for. Meanwhile, the Festival will also be heading to Georgetown, Johor Bahru and Kota Kinabalu, where you’ll be able to catch some of the films being shown this year as well.
Le French Festival
WHERE Various locations in Malaysia
WHEN 12 April-20 May, 2018 (check website for full programme, including times, dates and locations for each event)
TEL 03 2694 7880