French festival coming to four cities

(From left) Cyrano’s playwright Henno, director Lim Kien Lee, Sharifah, French ambassador to Malaysia Frédéric Laplanche, Surzur and Bounin at the press conference for this year’s edition of Le French Festival 2019.

C’EST si bon (it is good) because the highly-anticipated annual French event is back with the 18th edition of Le French Festival (LFF).

From April 4 to May 12, LFF is set to whisk Malaysians on an immersive experience of captivating events including French cinema screenings, art exhibitions, music and theatre performances as well as gastronomy.

Since its inception in 2001, LFF has evolved into an indomitable bridge of cultural exchange between France and Malaysia while successfully establishing its roots in four major cities — Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Johor Baru and Kota Kinabalu.

For the first time in LFF history, organisers Alliance Française Kuala Lumpur together with the French Embassy in Malaysia will not only be curating a variety of programmes and artistes from France, but will also play the role of producer as they collaborate with the nationally acclaimed theatre company in Malaysia, KL Shakespeare Players (KLSP), to create a special performance for LFF 2019 – a re-interpretation of Cyrano de Bergerac (The Story of Cyrano de Bergerac), deemed to be the most famous play in French theatre.

Alliance Française director Jacques Bounin said with Malaysia being France’s second-largest economic partner in Asean, cultural exchange and appropriation is important in all segments of growth for both countries.

“A platform of exchange is inevitably in need for everyone to be able to express and interact with, without the existence of cultural boundaries.

“With LFF’s perennial history, we’re encouraged to see the affinity between Malaysia and France thrive as we are honoured to reach a pinnacle of our journey where this year, we have the privilege of working with local collaborators to create and present French content by Malaysians,” said Bounin during the press conference.

Shedding light on the festival’s expectations this year, Alliance Française cultural coordinator Fanny Surzur said this year’s LFF edition strives to make Malaysians more involved and immersed in the French experience, by working with and supporting the local arts to create content that resonates with both Malaysians and the French.

“Not only are we creating a special event with and for our fellow Malaysians, we also really ensure our programmes cater to Malaysians of all ages. 

“Take The Story of Cyrano de Bergerac for example, while it may be a heavy piece of classic literature, together with KL Shakespeare Players, we are able to translate and design two shows – a child-friendly version and a version for the adults because everyone should be able to enjoy French culture together,” Surzur said.

Festival enthusiasts can look forward to Le French Festival 2019 at the following cities and dates: Kuala Lumpur – April 4 to 28, Penang – April 25 to May 5, Johor Baru – May 2 to 5, Kota Kinabalu – May 9 to 12.

This edition will for the first time be sponsored by G. H. Mumm Champagne and Golden Screen Cinemas as a long-standing collaborator and partner of the French Film Festival.

Gracing the LFF 2019 press conference was special guest and esteemed Malaysian actress, director and comedian, Sharifah Amani, a supporter of diversity in cinema and an ardent enthusiast of French cinema.

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