LE French Festival 2016, an expanded celebration of French culture, is back to delight the crowds at Gurney Plaza, Penang.
The event, which runs until Sunday, includes the screening of French movies, a photography exhibition and outdoor music performances.
Formerly known as the French Art and Film Festival, it is now in its 15th year and was launched with a ceremony featuring soprano Maja Pavlovska.
The acclaimed classical singer serenaded guests with a quintet of beguiling numbers against an opera theatre backdrop.
She was joined by Pulau Tikus assemblyman Yap Soo Huey, Gurney Plaza marketing communications manager Wong Shu Ying and new Alliance Francaise de Penang director Clotilde Vento for an officiating toast.
Yap said events like this added to Penang’s cultural diversity whilst enriching the lifestyle of locals.
Pavlovska delighting the crowd with a powerful number during the launch.
“Many expatriates are drawn to live here because of the global environment we can offer,” she said at the recent ceremony.
The event’s main draw is the French Film Festival at Golden Screen Cinemas Gurney Plaza which features 14 recent and acclaimed releases.
It kicked off with a preview screening of the comedy Caprice later that night which were attended by French ambassador Christophe Penot and Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng.
Penot believes his country has much to offer the Malaysian public, saying that the festival embodies the quality and diversity of French attractions.
“Besides building bridges between our countries, the festival a fast and good way to discover France and its creativity,” he said in his speech.
Lim opined that any city worth its salt would champion the development of the arts and allow artists and performers the freedom to do what they like and be the best they can be without offending sensibilities.
Visitors viewing images from the Climate, State of Emergency photography exhibition that is part of the Le French Festival 2016 at Gurney Plaza.
Other films featured are comedies OSS 117: Lost in Rio, Not My Type, Memories, The Belier Family, In The Courtyard and Hippocrates: Diary of a French Doctor.
There are also dramas like The Princess of Montpensier, In The Name of My Daughter and 3 Hearts as well as the thriller Next Time I’ll Aim For The Heart.
The lineup is completed by the adventure flick Wolf Totem, an animated version of The Little Prince and the musical Eden, Lost in Music.
Also featured in the festival is a photography exhibition titled Climate, State of Emergency at the mall’s ground floor extension wing.
They are the standout images from an international competition involving 105 Alliances Francaises from 43 countries held in conjunction with the 21st Conference on Climate Change in Paris last year.
A screening of Home, a documentary showing the diversity of life on Earth, will be held at the mall’s outdoor amphitheatre on Saturday at 7.30pm.
The same venue will host the Fete de la Musique on Sunday from 5pm, headlined by professional and amateur musicians.
Admission to the exhibition, documentary and Fete de la Musique is free.
For more information on the festival, visit www.lefrenchfestival.com.my or facebook.com/lefrenchfestivalmy.
Also present for the preview screening were French co-operation, scientific and cultural counselor Jean-Pierre Galland and Alliance Francaise de Penang president Toh Lee Hong.
As Lim was making his exit after the screening, he was confronted by Chinese national Sophia Zhou who voiced her frustrations with the worsening traffic conditions and rapid development of high-rises on the island.
Lim calmly spent several minutes explaining to her that progress entailed development and the need to build proper transport infrastructure for future needs.