Beyond Words Live French Literature Festival

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Institut français has announced the line-up of author events and films screenings for the 2018  Beyond Words Live French Literature Festival. The line-up features French writers joined by British and European authors.

Atiq Rahimi, Marie Darrieussecq, Laurent Gaudé, Eimear McBride, Claire-Louise Bennett, and Esther Kinsky are among the 40 writers, translators, actors, musicians and journalists taking part in 30 events ranging from talks and panel discussions to performances and films.

Opening the festival on 14 May, a series of events with writers and journalists Eric Hazan, Lauren Elkin, Mitch Abidor and Paul Mason will commemorate the May ‘68 Paris uprisings.

Hugely popular in France, prize-winning writers Marie Darrieussecq (Medicis Prize), Laurent Gaudé (Goncourt Prize), Atiq Rahimi (Goncourt Prize and English PEN award), Miguel Bonnefoy (Prix du Jeune Ecrivain) will be making exceptional London appearances to talk about their recently translated novels (Being Here is Everything, Hell’s Gate, The Patience Stone, Black Sugar).

Throughout the festival, Women Writers and Rebel Ladies will be strongly represented: graphic novelists Pénélope Bagieu, Bryan and Mary Talbot will take part in a live drawing event around their books, Brazen and The Red Virgin on 15 May. On 21 May, singerFishbach will read extracts from Vernon Subutex, shortlisted for the2018 Man Booker International Prize, and perform songs inspired by Despentes’ world.

Special tributes will be paid to Gaston Leroux, on the occasion of his 150 birthday, and to the late Paul Otchakovsky-Laurens who published the likes of Georges Perec, Emmanuel Carrère and Marguerite Duras. The works of Marcel Proust and Roland Bartheswill also be celebrated.

There will be book signing sessions throughout the festival as well as a staged reading of Ian Soliane’s Bamako-Paris on 18 May and film adaptations including screenings of See You Up There (Pierre Lemaître), The Red Collar (Jean-Christophe Rufin) and Based on a True Story (Delphine de Vigan).

Further events with festival guests will take place in 6 other locations across the country: Edinburgh, Manchester, Bristol, Bath, Oxford and Liverpool.

The Institut français is pleased to announce the second edition of Beyond Words: a week-long Festival of French Literature, featuring a great line-up of French writers joined by British and European authors.

Atiq Rahimi, Marie Darrieussecq, Laurent Gaudé, Eimear McBride, Claire-Louise Bennett, and Esther Kinsky are among the 40 writers, translators, actors, musicians and journalists taking part in 30 events ranging from talks and panel discussions to performances and films.

Opening the festival on 14 May, a series of events with writers and journalists Eric Hazan, Lauren Elkin, Mitch Abidor and Paul Mason will commemorate the May ‘68 Paris uprisings.

Hugely popular in France, prize-winning writers Marie Darrieussecq (Medicis Prize), Laurent Gaudé (Goncourt Prize), Atiq Rahimi (Goncourt Prize and English PEN award), Miguel Bonnefoy (Prix du Jeune Ecrivain) will be making exceptional London appearances to talk about their recently translated novels (Being Here is Everything, Hell’s Gate, The Patience Stone, Black Sugar).

Throughout the festival, Women Writers and Rebel Ladies will be strongly represented: graphic novelists Pénélope Bagieu, Bryan and Mary Talbot will take part in a live drawing event around their books, Brazen and The Red Virgin on 15 May. On 21 May, singer Fishbach will read extracts from Vernon Subutex, shortlisted for the2018 Man Booker International Prize, and perform songs inspired by Despentes’ world.

Special tributes will be paid to Gaston Leroux, on the occasion of his 150 birthday, and to the late Paul Otchakovsky-Laurens who published the likes of Georges Perec, Emmanuel Carrère and Marguerite Duras. The works of Marcel Proust and Roland Bartheswill also be celebrated.

There will be book signing sessions throughout the festival as well as a staged reading of Ian Soliane’s Bamako-Paris on 18 May and film adaptations including screenings of See You Up There (Pierre Lemaître), The Red Collar (Jean-Christophe Rufin) and Based on a True Story (Delphine de Vigan).

Further events with festival guests will take place in 6 other locations across the country: Edinburgh, Manchester, Bristol, Bath, Oxford and Liverpool.

Venue: Institut français, 17 Queensberry Place, London SW7 2DT – Info & bookings: www.beyondwordslitfest.co.uk

Programme

In May 1968, Parisian students marched down the street in protests that quickly spread throughout France. The country came to a near standstill. This exhibition of works by late French photographer Philippe Gras tells the story of May ’68, fifty years after the event. Juliette Desplat from the National Archives will give an introduction to the exhibition on 14 May.

Free access to the exhibition during La Médiathèque opening hours until 19 May

MAY MADE ME: MITCHELL ABIDOR & PAUL MASON

Talk

The mass protests that shook France in May 1968 were exciting, dangerous, creative and influential, changing European politics to this day. Mitchell Abidor, author of May Made Me(Pluto), will be discussing their legacy with Guardian journalist Paul Mason, author of Postcapitalism. A Guide to Our Future (Allen Lane).

6.15pm, in English £7, conc. £5

Related / Latest Publication:

Mitchell Abidor, May Made Me (Pluto, May 2018)
Paul Mason, Postcapitalism. A Guide to Our Future (Allen Lane, June 2016)

A WALK THROUGH PARIS: ERIC HAZAN & LAUREN ELKIN

Talk

In A Walk Through Paris (Verso) essayist and publisher Eric Hazan takes us through the radical history of Paris, city of the May 1968 uprising, but also of Robespierre, the Commune and Jean-Paul Sartre. Drawing on his own life story and experiences during the Sixties, Eric Hazan will be in conversation with Lauren Elkin, author of Flâneuse. Women Walk the City.

7.15pm, in English and French £7, conc. £5

Related / Latest Publication:

Eric Hazan, A Walk Through Paris, translated by David Fernbach (Verso, March 2018) Lauren Elkin, Flâneuse. Women Walk the City (Vintage, July 2017)

REDOUBTABLE

Film

dir. Michel Hazanavicius, 2017, 107 mins

Paris 1967. Jean-Luc Godard, the most renowned filmmaker of his generation, is shooting La Chinoise with the woman he loves, Anne Wiazemsky. Happy, in love, magnetic, they marry. But the film’s reception unleashes in Jean-Luc a profound self-examination amplified by the events of May ’68.

8.30pm, in French with English subtitles £7

TUESDAY 15 MAY
TRANSLATING FRENCH AND FRANCOPHONE WRITING

Talk

Journalist and critic Boyd Tonkin, whose 100 Best Novels in Translation is forthcoming in June (Galileo), will kick off this inaugural event for the translation strand of the festival with a conversation with Lucie Campos (head of the Book Office at the Institut français) about French and Francophone titles old and new. Followed by a selection of pitches by emerging translators about the French language books they are most excited about this year, discussed by translator Ros Schwartz and editor Ellie Steel.

5pm, in English £5

REBEL LADIES WHO ROCKED THE WORLD: PÉNÉLOPE BAGIEU, BRYAN & MARY TALBOT, IKO CHÉRIE
Talk and Live Drawing

Pénélope Bagieu’s graphic novel Brazen (Penguin) presents a series of portraits of 30 incredible women such as Josephine Baker, Peggy Guggenheim or Tove Jansson. Penelope will be discussing these rebel ladies with Mary and Bryan Talbot, who revisit the life of anarchist and Communarde Louise Michel in the graphic novel The Red Virgin and the Vision of Utopia (Jonathan Cape).
They will be joined by DJ and singer Iko Chérie for some Little Trouble Girls sets.

6.15pm, in English and French £7, conc. £5

Related / Latest Publication:

Pénélope Bagieu, Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked The World, translated by Montana Kane (Ebury, March 2018)
Mary & Bryan Talbot, Sally Heathcote, Suffragette (Jonathan Cape, May 2014)
Mary & Bryan Talbot, The Red Virgin and the Vision of Utopia (Jonathan Cape, May 2016)

EUROPEAN LITERARY SALON: CLAIRE-LOUISE BENNETT, ESTHER KINSKY & JAKUTA ALIKA V AZOVIC
Talk

French writer Jakuta Alikavazovic (L’Olivier), British writer Claire-Louise Bennett(Fitzcarraldo), German writer Esther Kinsky (Fitzcarraldo) and Music & Literature editor (and former Man Booker International judge) Daniel Medin will be discussing non-narrative fiction in European writing today and the importance of translation in a salon style event including readings and conversations.

6.45pm, in English, French and German £7, conc. £5

 

Related / Latest Publication:

Claire-Louise Bennett, Pond (Fitzcarraldo, October 2015)
Jakuta Alikavazovic, L’Avancée de la nuit (Editions de l’Olivier, August 2017) Esther Kinksy, River, translated by Iain Galbraith (Fitzcarraldo, January 2018) —

LAURENT GAUDÉ

Talk

Laurent Gaudé won the Goncourt prize in 2004 for The House of Scorta. His latest novel Hell’s Gate (Gallic, tr. Emily Boyce) is a thrilling story of love, loss, revenge and redemption in Naples and beyond, in which Gaudé questions the power of origins, death and family ties. In the presence of translator Adriana Hunter.

7.30pm, in English and French £7, conc. £5

Related / Latest Publication:

Laurent Gaudé, Death of an Ancient King, translated by Adriana Hunter (4th Estate, 2004) Laurent Gaudé, Hell’s Gate, translated by Emily Boyce and Jane Aitken (Gallic, April 2017)

THE PHANTOM ON FILM

Talk

Celebrating Gaston Leroux’s 150th birthday, Dr Cormac Newark (Guildhall School of Music &
Drama), Dr Annette Davison (University of Edinburgh) and Dr John Snelson (Royal Opera House) will explore the very many ways opera’s most famous off-shoot, The Phantom of the Opera, has inspired and infiltrated cultures around the world, offering a rich subject for re-interpretation in media ranging from ballet to musical theatre.

8pm, in English
£7, conc. £5
Double bill Talk + Screening of The Phantom of Paradise: £15, £13 conc. & members

Related / Latest Publication: Gaston Leroux, The Phantom of the Opera, translated by Mireille Ribière (Penguin Classics, April 2012)

PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE

Film

dir. Brian de Palma, 1974, 92 mins

Composer Winslow Leach hides his wounded face beneath a sinister silver mask and writes his music for the woman he loves. Betrayed by evil producer Swan, he decides to haunt his rock palace, the Paradise. Brian de Palma’s rock opera is a flamboyant horror comedy loosely adapted from Gaston Leroux’s The Phantom of the Opera.

The screening will be preceded by an introduction by Dr Annette Davison (University of Edinburgh)

8.50pm, in English
£9, conc. £7
Double bill: talk + screening The Phantom on Film: £15, £13 conc. & members

 

Related / Latest Publication: Gaston Leroux, The Phantom of the Opera, translated by Mireille Ribière (Penguin Classics, April 2012)

WEDNESDAY 16 MAY
MIGUEL BONNEFOY & DANIEL HAHN

Talk

A new voice in literary fiction, Franco-Venezuelan author Miguel Bonnefoy made a breakthrough with his debut Octavio’s Journey. Compared to Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude, his second novel Black Sugar (Gallic) tells the tale of a family’s changing fortunes in Venezuela over the course of the 20th century. Chaired by Daniel Hahn.

6pm, in English and French £7, conc. £5

Related / Latest Publication: Miguel Bonnefoy, Black Sugar, translated by Emily Boyce (Gallic, March 2018)

WRITING FOR FREEDOM: PEN WRITER ATIQ RAHIMI

Talk

Writer and filmmaker Atiq Rahimi left Afghanistan for France in the 1980s, where he spent 18 years in exile. He won the 2008 Goncourt Prize for The Patience Stone (Penguin), his first book to be written directly in French, as a way to escape the “involuntary self-censorship” he feels when writing in Persian. The novel portrays a young woman’s attempt to keep her husband alive as she rages against men, war, culture, God. Atiq Rahimi has since continued to write about language, political violence, historical belonging and migration. In partnership with English PEN who have supported the English editions of Patience Stoneand A Curse on Dostoevsky.

6pm, in English £7, conc. £5

Related / Latest Publication: Atiq Rahimi, The Patience Stone, translated by Polly McLean (Vintage, January 2011)

ROLAND BARTHES: TELEVISION DEGREE ZERO

Film

dir. Terry Braun, 1992, 120 mins

Television Degree Zero was a special edition of BBC’s The Late Show (1990): a pithy deconstruction of the legacy of one of France’s most influential intellectuals, Roland Barthes, whose essay The Death of the Author first appeared in France in 1968. The screening is preceded by a selection of interview clips with Jacques Derrida and Hélène Cixous, as part of Radical Broadcasters Theory On TV.

The screening will be preceded by an introduction by Film Critic Brian Dillon

6.30pm, in English and French with English subtitles £7, conc. £5

Related / Latest Publication: Tiphaine Samoyault, Barthes. A Biography, translated by Andrew Brown (Polity Press, January 2017)

MARIE DARRIEUSSECQ

Talk

In Being Here Is Everything (Semiotext(e)) Marie Darrieussecq traces the short, obscure, and prolific life of the German expressionist painter Paula Modersohn-Becker (1876–1907), who despite being a woman became one of her generation’s preeminent artists. In this exceptional London appearance, Marie Darrieussecq will also be talking about her other books, including Pig Tales (Faber).

Chaired by Lisa Allardice.

7pm, in English and French £7, conc. £5

Related / Latest Publication:

Marie Darrieussecq, Pig Tales, translated by Linda Coverdale (Faber&Faber, June 2003)
Marie Darrieussecq, Being Here is Everything, translated by Penny Hueston (Semiotext(e), April 2018)

PUBLISHING À LA FRANÇAISE: FRÉDÉRIC BOYER, ATIQ RAHIMI & MARIE DARRIEUSSECQ
Talk and Screening

Talented French publisher and film director Paul Otchakovsky-Laurens, founder of POL, died in January 2018. In a series of pop-up readings introduced by writer and translator Frédéric Boyer, two of Paul’s authors, Goncourt prize winner Atiq Rahimi and Medicis prize winner Marie Darrieussecq, will be joined by guests Catriona Seth, Adrian Rifkin, Christopher MacLehose, Dominic Glynn and Stefan Tobler will read from some of the best books he published: Georges Perec, Marguerite Duras, Jean-Louis Schefer, Olivier Cadiot, Emmanuelle Pagano, Emmanuel Carrère… Followed by an exceptional screening, in French, of Paul Otchakovsky-Laurens’ film Editeur.

8pm, in English and French £7, conc. £5

Related / Latest Publication:

Marie Darrieussecq, Pig Tales, translated by Linda Coverdale (Faber&Faber, June 2003)
Marie Darrieussecq, Being Here is Everything, translated by Penny Hueston (Semiotext(e), April 2018) Atiq Rahimi, The Patience Stone, translated by Polly McLean (Vintage, January 2011)

THE RED COLLAR

Film

dir. Jean Becker, 2018, 83 mins

Adapted from The Red Collar by Prix Goncourt winner Jean-Christophe Rufin, Jean Becker’s WW1 drama tells the story of a war hero, held prisoner in an abandoned barracks under the crushing heat of summer, and awaiting his interrogation by a corrupt judge to the sound of his mangy dog barking night and day.

8.40pm, in French with English subtitles £11, conc. £9

Related / Latest Publication:

Jean-Christophe Rufin, The Red Collar, translated by Adriana Hunter (Europa Editions, July 2015)

Jean-Christophe Rufin, The Santiago Pilgrimage: Walking the Immortal Way, translated by Malcolm Imrie (MacLehose Press, April 2017)

THURSDAY 17 MAY
NOÉMI LEFEBVRE, EIMEAR MCBRIDE & FRESH FRENCH VOICES

Talk

Noémi Lefebvre’s Blue Self-Portrait (Les Fugitives) is a novel of angst and high farce, caught between contrary impulses to remember and to ignore. She will be in conversation with Baileys Prize for Women’s fiction winner Eimear McBride, whose latest novel is The Lesser Bohemians (Faber). Chaired by translator Sophie Lewis.

Following this dialogue, Noemi will be joined by two up and coming writers from Editions
Verticales: Pierre Senges, known for his radio adaptation of Gustave Flaubert’s Bouvard et Pécuchet, as well as for his quirky, poetic Lichtenberg Fragments (Dalkey Archive), and Quebec-born Hélène Frédérick. Conversations with the writers will be accompanied by a series of readings on realism, literary debt and new forms of writing, introduced by Emmanuel Bouju (IUF) and Jeanne Guyon (Verticales).

6.30pm, in English and French £7, conc. £5

Related / Latest Publication:

Noémi Lefebvre, Blue Self-Portrait, translated by Sophie Lewis (Les Fugitives, June 2017)
Eimear McBride, The Lesser Bohemians (Faber&Faber, September 2016)
Hélène Frédérick, Forêt Contraire (Verticales, February 2014)
Pierre Senges, Antonio de Guevara, The Major Refutation, translated by Jacob Siefring (Contra Mundum Press, December 2016)

Pierre Senges, Fragments of Lichtenberg, translated by Gregory Flanders (Dalkey Archive Press, January 2017)

SEE YOU UP THERE

Film

dir. Albert Dupontel, 2017, 115 mins

Winner of 5 Cesar Awards, Albert Dupontel’s crime epic is an adaptation from Pierre Lemaître’s Goncourt winning novel, Au revoir là-haut. In November 1918, Edouard Pericourt, a gifted artist, saves the life of Albert Maillard, a humble bookkeeper. The two men have nothing in common apart from their experience of war and their hatred for Lieutenant Pradelle. Introduced by translator Frank Wynne.

8.40pm, in French with English subtitles £11, conc. £9

Related / Latest Publication: Pierre Lemaître, The Great Swindle, translated by Frank Wynne (MacLehose Press, November 2016)

FRIDAY 18 MAY

BAMAKO-PARIS

Staged Reading

 

Ibou, a Malian stowaway hanging on to the landing gear of an Airbus A320 heading for Paris, is talking to us about his future, his hopes, the mad idea that germinated in his mind. The idea of hanging on to a landing gear. The monologue is intersected by the post-mortem of his own body, sixteen hours later, the corpse lying on the autopsy table in a room of the Paris Forensic Medical Institute. A burning topic of our time, handled with a solemnity that doesn’t dismiss humour.

Staged reading of Ian Soliane’s play Bamako-Paris (translated by Felicity Davidson) as part of the Institut français’ Cross-Channel Theatre programme, directed by Kimberley Sykes, with Clifford Samuel as Ibou.

2pm, in English £7, conc. £5

PROUST IN JUST ONE HOUR

Performance

In a special live performance, Véronique Aubouy heroically attempts to sum up the whole story of Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time for her audience in just an hour. Fascinated by this extraordinary novel, one of France’s favourite books of all time, Véronique is able to bring to stage the complex world and characters’s of this intricate plot: whether you have read the book or not, prepare to spend an hour exploring its world. Introduced by Christopher Prendergast (King’s College Cambridge).

7.30pm, in English and French £7, conc. £5

Related / Latest Publication:

Véronique Aubouy, Mathieu Riboulet, A la lecture (Grasset, September 2014)
Marcel Proust, In Search of Lost Time. Volume 1: The Way by Swann’s, translated by Lydia Davis, edited by Christopher Prendergast (Penguin, October 2003)

BEAUTY AND THE DOGS

Film

dir. Kaouther Ben Hania, 2017, 100 mins

During a student party, Mariam, a young Tunisian woman, meets the mysterious Youssef and leaves with him. A long night begins, during which she’ll have to fight for her rights and her dignity in the hands of a gang of dirty cops. Tunisian author and director Kaouther Ben Hania depicts an edifying portrait of her country poisoned by corruption and male chauvinism.

8.30pm, in Arabic with English subtitles £12, conc. £10

Related / Latest Publication: Meriem Ben Mohamed, La Belle et la Meute (Michel Lafon, October 2017) –
SATURDAY 19 MAY
CAFÉ PHILO

Talk

Led by Christian Michel, this special edition of the Café Philo will be the occasion to discuss the legacy of May 68 and its commemorations today, starting with the question: “Was the May 68 movement elitist, anti- populist and anti-democratic?”

 

10.30pm, in English £2

BASED ON A TRUE STORY

Film

dir. Roman Polanski, 2017, 110 mins

Adapted from Delphine de Vigan’s award-winning novel by Roman Polanski and Olivier Assayas, Based on a True Story blurs the line between reality and fiction. Overwhelmed by the success of her latest novel, Delphine can’t find the strength to write. She gradually realises that the smart and intuitive Elle is not exactly the good friend she claims to be.

8.30pm, in French with English subtitles £12, conc. £10

Related / Latest Publication: Delphine de Vigan, Based on a True Story, translated by George Miller (Bloomsbury, September 2017)

SUNDAY 20 MAY

LES DEUX ANGLAISES ET LE CONTINENT

Film

dir. François Truffaut, 1971, 132 mins

Ten years after Jules et Jim, Truffaut turned his attention back to the love triangle and another novel by Henri-Pierre Roché. This time the setting is a Welsh coastal resort, and the protagonists a young French writer and two English sisters. One of Truffaut’s most personal and romantic films.

2pm, in French with English subtitles £9, conc. £7

Related / Latest Publication: Henri-Pierre Roché, Les Deux Anglaises et le Continent (Gallimard, April 1956)

MONDAY 21 MAY 2018
CLOSING EVENT: FISHBACH AND VERNON SUBUTEX

Music and Readings

An exceptional Music Rendez-Vous with singer Fishbach, combining literary and musical variations around Vernon Subutex by Virginie Despentes (MacLehose). Awarded a Victoire de la musique in 2017, Fishbach will be on the cast of the new TV adaptation of the book. She will read extracts from Vernon Subutex and will perform songs inspired by Despentes’ world.

7pm, in English and French £7, conc. £5

Related / Latest Publication: Virginie Despentes, Vernon Subutex 1, translated by Frank Wynne (MacLehose Press, June 2017)

 

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Interview with Giedrė Žickytė

Director of documentary on the life of one of the most important photographers of the Soviet era talks about the film ahead of its screening at Ciné Lumière.

I wanted to ask you about working with archival footage: your previous film, “How We Played the Revolution”, and “Master and Tatyana” are both related by you working with material that was sourced from archives.

The footage was radically different in both instances – I do not want to repeat myself, I am interested in constantly finding something new. I am simply telling stories that were happening then, but are also connected to the now. And when one tells stories of the past, one cannot do without the archive.

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In one interview, you went as far as to call the film “Tanya and the Archive”.

That’s what seemed alive to me in this film – its main character Tanya with her archive, the archive of Vitas Luckus that she has kept safe for all these years. This film opened a door into a stunning, touching story that happened more than 30 years ago and was kept completely silent. This was a massive challenge – how do you create a film about someone who is no longer here with material that is not, so to say, live, and about photography, which is not a live medium? Cinema is a living thing. That was one of the toughest tasks – how to make a touching film out of all of this. I decided to tell this film through a love story – love was and is something that is alive, that is still alive with Tanya. Her love manifested through the preservation of this archive.

How did Vitas Luckus become your character, how did he come to you?

I feel as though this story is becoming quite well known. Skirmantas Valiulis told me of Vitas Luckus while I was still at university. A journalist from the Netherlands who had published an album of Luckus visited Vilnius and Skirmantas Valiulis invited me to a meeting with him – to talk about a Lithuanian photographer about whom no one was talking about in Lithuania… We met at the “Neringa” and I had no idea that this story would turn my life upside down years later – I was only 19 years old, after all. The story touched me.

Seven years later I found the photocopied pages of the photo album. I read them and I could not sleep for several nights. I started looking for information online and I was astounded at the lack of it – and started having an idea about making a film… Everything fell into place. I wrote a letter to Tatyana since I had to start somewhere and I could not start without her. It was an immensely long letter – you are not going to say, “hi, Tanya, I want to make a film!”. I told her about myself: who I am, how I found Vitas, what I felt, the questions that I have and why this story is important to me. So many questions that I cannot ask of him. Perhaps I could talk to him through her? The last sentence of the letter was: “will you take me back to Vitas’s life and time?”.

She did not answer me for two months – I kept checking every single day and cannot remember ever waiting for something so intensely. It was Christmas in 2008 and she wrote to me on Christmas Day, as if sending the best Christmas gift. The response was this: “yes, Giedre, I will take you back to Vitas’s life and time”. The following year we communicated intensively on the phone – Tanya did not use “Skype” back then, I installed it for her after going to the USA. We talked so much – she would call me, it would be daytime in the USA, night time in Lithuania… And when I visited her, it seemed to me as if I had known her for a hundred years. This is how we started our journey.

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It seems like there was a conversation between the three of you – Vitas, Tanya and you. In the beginning, perhaps, she was a mediator, but the conversations and the bond between you two changed that.

Tanya could never be just a mediator. Everyone had an individual relationship with Vitas – Tanya, his friends, others. I knew I could not speak about Vitas objectively since it’s simply impossible. I do not believe in an objective reality in cinema – what is real in cinema is the feeling, something we all feel. Everything else is simply interpretation. If I had attempted an objective portrayal of Vitas, it would have been an encyclopaedia, a collection of every single version of events. Cinema is something else. Like “How We Played the Revolution” – there were many historical events, but the film is their interpretation. Its essence lies in human emotions, their feelings, the fact they could stand before tanks without being armed. That is true and undeniable. Tanya is alive – she has changed, but her love is alive and it served as a basis for my film and helped me orient myself in that great flood of material.

Interview by Paulina Drėgvaitė

Master and Tatyana screening Wednesday plus Q&A with director Giedre Žickyte – 14th June at 6:30 PM at CINÉ LUMIÈRE – Institut Français du Royaume-Uni.

Beyond Words – Live French Literature Festival

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Institut français has announced it will host a Beyond Words, brand new festival celebrating French literature. A six-day programme of events packed with guest appearances of French-language writers recently translated into English, and English-language writers who have a special love affair with France, including Delphine de Vigan, Alexis Jenni, Lydie Salvayre, Laurent Binet, Hisham Matar and Michael Rosen.

The festival opens on Thursday 11 May with a staged reading of Edouard Louis’ The End of Eddy with Henry Pettigrew in the title role. Star speakers Michael Rosen and David Bellos will talk about Emile Zola and Victor Hugo and their relevance to our times. Meanwhile, Goncourt Prize-winning Alexis Jenni, just published in English (The French Art of War), and PEN award and Pulitzer prize winner Hisham Matar, just published in French (The Return), will meet to discuss the Re-writing of History, accompanied by their translators Frank Wynne and Agnès Desarthe.

Hugely popular in France, prize-winning writers Lydie Salvayre, Delphine de Vigan, and Laurent Binet will be making exceptional London appearances to talk about their recently translated novels (Cry, Mother Spain, Based on a True Story, The Seventh Function of Language), both at the Institut français and at the British Library where a special evening on contemporary French fiction takes place on 15 May. To celebrate the 2017 Man Booker International Prize, a performance of staged and musical readings of Mathias Enard and Alain Mabanckou’s longlisted books (Compass, Black Moses) will take place at the Institut français on 13 May. Dulwich Books will also be hosting an afternoon session with festival guests on 14 May.

French poetry will not be forgotten, with an original collective live reading experience led by Erica Jarnes in partnership with the Southbank Poetry Library. Nor will philosophy, with a special session on truth and fiction. Other highlights include talks with Dionysos lead singer Mathias Malzieu who will be launching his Diary of a Vampire in Pyjamas, Emmanuelle Pagano and Ananda Devi, both recently translated into English this year (Trysting, Eve Out of Her Ruins).

There will be on-site booksellers and book signing sessions throughout the festival, as well as a special selection of film adaptations including Corniche Kennedy (Maylis de Kerangal), A Woman’s Life (Maupassant) and Hiroshima mon Amour (Duras).

Venue: Institut français, 17 Queensberry Place, London SW7 2DT – Info & bookings: www.beyondwordslitfest.co.uk

Totally Serialized – Interview with Caroline Proust

caroline-proust

Caroline Proust, star of Spiral, visited Institut Francais and revealed behind-the-scenes secrets of France’s most successful police series to more than 200 fans.

Frequently compared to The Wire, Spiral’s hard-edged view of French policing introduced British audiences to Gallic Noir. Now in its fifth season, a sixth will be produced later this year, this gritty drama tackles issues facing contemporary France through the eyes of its justice system.

The latest series has been the most successful to date in the UK. Critics have responded with levels of fervour not seen since The Bridge and ratings have topped the million mark.

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Making her début at a British event, a visibly delighted Proust admitted to being surprised at Spiral’s popularity in Britain.

‘We just knew that there’s been a million viewers for this season,’ she says. ‘Gregory (Fitoussi – Pierre Clément) told me. He worked here on Mr Selfridge and he told me that it was a big success here.’

Fresh from delivering a masterclass on how the show is made and her approach to playing Laure. Proust posed for photographs and signed autographs for over 200 fans.

She recently joined Facebook and has connected with over 3,000 enthusiasts.

‘I opened a Facebook account because I wanted to know what was happening in other countries,’ she explains. ‘This is very interesting for me to hear from Italian, Greek, American, and English fans. There are many English fans.’

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A classically trained actor, Proust was primarily known for her work on the stage when she joined the series. In between seasons she returns to the theatre. Would she be interested in appearing in the West End?

‘I would really like to do that. Maybe I can come with a French play. I came years ago with the play Game of Love and Chance.’

Spiral’s popularity is on the rise. Might now be the time to capitalise on its success and make a feature film?

‘We were wondering. The producer asked us if we want to do a cinema movie. First time we said yes, yes we want to do that and we said I don’t know if it’s a good idea,’ she says. ‘The thing which is very interesting is that you can show how complex human beings are. In the movie you only have one and a half hours.’

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Institut Francais have posted a podcast containing extracts from Caroline Proust and Anne Landois’ panels:

For information about future events please contact:

Institut Français, 17 Queensberry Place, London SW7 2DT

Info & booking: 020 7871 3515

http://www.institut-francais.org.uk/

Spiral – Series 5 can be ordered from Amazon:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Spiral-5-DVD-Gr%C3%A9gory-Fitoussi/dp/B00SBA4LRY/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1424559750&sr=8-1&keywords=spiral+series+5

Event Review: Totally Serialized – Decrypting Spiral

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Shining a light onto the finest TV currently being produced on both sides of the English Channel, Totally Serialized returned to Institute Francais for a fourth season of discussions and exclusive premières.

Launching three days of festivities, Spiral’s showrunner Anne Landois spoke to James Rampton from The Independent about her career, how the series is made, and its popularity in France and the UK.

Now in its tenth year of production, Spiral is seen in 75 countries. Created by Alexandra Clert and Guy-Patrick Sainderichin for French cable network Canal+, it’s the station’s longest running drama series. Transforming the network’s fortunes, it re-positioned the station into a French equivalent of HBO. Seen in 75 countries, Spiral is the most widely sold series in the history of French television.

Canal+  is committed to ensuring the programme has a long-term future. A sixth season has been commissioned and is due to go into production later this year.

Writing professionally since 1996, Anne Landois joined Spiral’s scripting team for the third season. The series currently airing on BBC Four is her first as head writer.

With a track record for writing series and TV movies grounded in realism alongside a long-term interest in policing and judicial process, Landois was a perfect choice to become the new creative force behind Spiral.

As showrunner Landois oversees the series’ artistic vision. In conjunction with a co-writer she crafts a detailed document that encapsulates the season’s main story, subplots, and character developments. This blueprint is then distributed to writers of individual episodes.

The production team uses a core group of advisers comprising police officers, lawyers, and judges throughout the scripting to guarantee the series is rooted in reality. Anne acknowledged the importance of consultants and emphasised the need to have good writers on board to create gripping drama.

Asked how writing has changed this season Landois replied that over the last decade viewers had become close to the main characters and now was the time to concentrate on their personal stories.

She compared the officers interrelationship to a blended family with Laure Berthaud as a surrogate matriarch of the household.

French television drama is currently experiencing a creative renaissance. In addition to Spiral, Braquo, Hard, JO, Maison Close, and The Returned have enjoyed success and acclaim outside of France. Anne said that French drama had been asleep but is now wide awake. The industry has studied shows coming out of English speaking territories, learning techniques in production and applying the lessons to home-grown series.

Explaining how a series is scripted and produced, Landois provided an accessible account of a showrunner’s working methods and differences between French and British television cultures. Fans of Spiral left Institute Francais with an enhanced appreciation of the writer’s craft and an increased understanding of the many production decisions that are made to bring their favourite French crime show to the screen.

For information about future events please contact:

Institut Français, 17 Queensberry Place, London SW7 2DT

Info & booking: 020 7871 3515 – http://www.institut-francais.org.uk/

ENGRENAGES Saison 5 PHOTO PRESSE

Event Review: William Boyd & Marc Dugain – The Great War, Memory & Fiction

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Commemorating the centenary of the First World War Institute Francais invited a pair of acclaimed writers to talk about the conflict and it’s enduring literary legacy.

Inspired by his great grandfather’s experiences during World War One Marc Dugain wrote The Officer’s Ward in fifteen days. An instant critical and commercial success, it won several literary awards including the Prix des Deux Magots.

Wounded early on in the conflict, Dugain’s grandfather suffered extensive facial injuries and spent the remainder of the war convalescing in a hospital. He had to undergo nineteen surgical procedures in an attempt to repair his face. For the rest of his life he had trouble speaking, was only able to eat liquidised food and developed an ability to pull his tongue through the reconstructed nose.

Dugain’s moving account of a soldier spending several years in the Val-de-Grâce hospital rebuilding his life whilst beyond the institution’s walls millions were losing their lives in a bloody conflict waged across the continent is now studied in French schools.

A feature film adaptation was released in 2001. Nominated for nine César awards, it was submitted as the official entry at the Cannes Film Festival.

Dugain acknowledged that the First World War has greater resonance in contemporary French culture than the second due to the nation not yet having come to terms with atrocities committed and allegations that some citizens may have collaborated with invading Nazi forces.

Offering an alternative to conventional historical narratives, Dugain expressed his belief that events between 1914 and 1945 was a single war with a lengthy interlude. He suggested a complex series of events including the Treaty of Versailles made a resumption of hostilities inevitable.

Discussing the writing process Dugain stated that it’s his duty to create a fiction firmly grounded in reality.

A future project will be a script about the role played by Chinese Labour Corps in the conflict. With China not officially involved in hostilities until the decoration of war against Germany in 1917 battalions were restricted to non combatant duties. Under-represented in film and literature, the experiences of those who dug trenches and carried bodies is a story, he feels, has to be told.

Members of fellow panellist William Boyd’s family were also injured in the line of duty. His grandfather was wounded in the back at the Battle of Somme and kept the shrapnel as a souvenir. A great uncle was wounded at Paschendale.

One of Britain’s most successful novelists. Boyd’s work has been translated into more than thirty languages. In a career lasting more than three decades he has written the screenplay for Chaplin, authored a biography of fictitious artist Nat Tate and enlisted the aid of David Bowie in a playful hoax that fooled New York’s art critic community.

Boyd made his debut as director in 1999 with the feature film The Trench. Starring a pre-Bond Daniel Craig, the movie focused on a platoon in the hours leading up to the Battle of the Somme.

Currently living in France, Boyd spoke with passion about how the conflict has influenced his writing, differences between French and British commemorations, and the creation of historical myths.

Boyd suggested that in trying to understand events of one hundred years ago we may be distorting key political moments by trying to see them through a twenty-first century perspective. The creation of a historical narrative may have prioritised specific steps in the road to war and devalued instances which were regarded as significant at the time.

In common with many school children, Boyd was taught the War Poets at school. The horrors described in Sassoon’s verse were too much for a fellow pupil who fled from the classroom.

Boyd noted a tendency in war literature to make combat noble and heroic. He expressed a belief that writers and filmmakers have a duty to demythologise the conflict and show the true extent of horror experienced by those fighting in the front line.

When writing about the past he strives to strip away false glamour and heroism. His historical novels are written to challenge false assumptions about the eras and give the readers a greater understanding of the events without exaggeration or sensationalism.

An enlightening and engaging debate offering an insight into the workings of two highly successful novelists, how family experiences in the First World War continues to influence their work and the role they are playing in making sure the fallen will never be forgotten.

For information about future events being staged by Institut Français please contact:

Institut Français, 17 Queensberry Place, London SW7 2DT

Info & booking: 020 7871 3515 – http://www.institut-francais.org.uk/

Event Review: Noir is the Colour – Crafting Crime Fiction

Fielding a team of crime writing talent comprised of players from either side of the channel the third event of Institut FrancaisNoir is the Colour festival put together a package of talent proving that Europe is an unbeatable world champion in the Noir stakes. Alongside Barry Forshaw’s recently published Euro Noir, this celebration of the potent contemporary scene offers up a melange of the familiar and unknown. Authors new to UK readers sit alongside more established names discussing common ground and differences in stylistic approaches, influences, and working methods. For those who prefer the allure of the printed page to a soccer tournament the opportunity to sit in an enchanting reading room and see four of Europe’s most vital current writers talk about their craft and careers before that all important first publication was a fruitful experience. Akin to a camp fire conversation, an informal and inviting commemoration that embraced newcomers and rewarded long term enthusiasts.

Current co-director of Books by the Beach festival and former crime critic for The Observer, Peter Guttridge is the author of the well received Brighton mystery series and a remarkable account of The Great Train Robbery. His latest novel Those Who Feel Nothing has been published by Severn House, a review will be posted on this blog at a later date. A visible passion for the genre, familiarity with the European scene paired with an informal style of questioning that set the tone for an evening in which the panellists were made to feel completely relaxed and the audience were stimulated proved Institut Francais had picked the right person to referee the opening match between the World Cup and literature.

Playing for team Europe were Nicci French and Bernard Minier, unlocking the secrets of writing and confirming that within a crime book are moments every bit as dramatic as the action on a Brazilian soccer pitch.

Published in 2011 Bernard Minier’s print début The Frozen Dead was met with a warm reception, this tale of murder in a snowbound valley became an instant best-seller. The UK edition was issued in 2013 to widespread critical acclaim. Growing up at the foot of the Pyrenees Minier knew that the landscape was an incredible environment which would make the perfect backdrop for a Noir crime novel.

A lifelong love of literature was formed during primary school after hearing a teacher read Robinson Crusoe to the class. Entranced by the written word’s power he spontaneously decided that his life would be dedicated to crafting narratives. Cutting his literary teeth writing short fiction, he submitted stories to contests. This confidence building exercise replayed over many years sharpened his talent to the point that after completing a six hundred page draft of his première novel he was able to submit it to publishing houses with accompanying evidence of a clear vision for exciting future literary projects.

Describing himself as a “young, old writer” he worked as a civil servant whilst composing his first book. The product of two and a half years creating the cinematic vistas so elegantly described in The Frozen Dead was a lonely experience. With nobody to bounce ideas off he toiled away in relative isolation and wouldn’t allow anybody to see the product of his work before a publisher had given its verdict.

The sequel novel is currently being translated into English, a third has been released in France and a TV series is in the early stages of pre-production.

 

Former journalists Nicci Gerrard and Sean French write together under the pseudonym Nicci French. Masters of the genre, this husband and wife team, best known for a series of novels featuring psychotherapist Frieda Klein, have authored eighteen books. Thursday’s Child their most recent publication sees the analyst turned investigator confronting some painful demons as she returns to her home town.

Revealing a few tricks of the trade, Sean French admitted that sometimes the ideas which light the blue touch paper of the creative process are comparatively simple. The work begins when along with his writing partner he evaluates this creative seed to ascertain if it has potential to grow into something which will excite them over the many months of sculpting a narrative they hope will enthral their readers. Armed with that initial plot point they discuss why it needs to be written and once both are animated the hard work of translating it into compelling prose begins.

As Nicci Gerrard explained, the evaluation process doesn’t stop with the writing of a first draft, sometimes only after they have a finished manuscript in their hands is it possible to appraise the core concept’s worth. She once scrapped an entire novel after falling out of love with it but instantly got back in the saddle after becoming excited by a new story concept.

Currently working on the fifth Frieda Klein book, Nicci offered an insight into an author’s mind when she revealed that for most writers reaching the end of a book is a terrifying experience because of the fear that never again will be they be able to recreate the alchemy of transforming an idea into a dramatic book that readers are unable to put down. With acute perception Sean French noted that Stephen King’s two most terrifying novels concern writers; Misery and The Shining.

As London settled down to watch the première match of the soccer tournament Institut Francais provided an arena for some of the most distinct writers in Europe’s contemporary crime fiction scene to reveal details about their working methods, personal backgrounds, and approaches to genre. A relaxed and informative evening that gave those who were fortunate to attend an increased awareness of the precise disciplines required to create a book length manuscript.

The latest titles from all the authors appearing at Noir is the Colour can be ordered from Amazon:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Those-Who-Feel-Nothing-Brighton-based/dp/0727883607/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1403567624&sr=8-1&keywords=Those+Who+Feel+Nothing

http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Frozen-Dead-Bernard-Minier/dp/1444732269/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1403567685&sr=8-1&keywords=the+frozen+dead

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Thursdays-Children-Frieda-Klein-Novel/dp/0718156994/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1403545727&sr=8-1&keywords=Nicci+French

For more information about Noir is the Colour contact:

Institut français, 17 Queensberry Place, London SW7 2DT

Info & booking: 020 7871 3515 – http://www.institut-francais.org.uk/