My dear francophiles, francovorous and francophageous friends, this one is coming directly from the hot zone. I’m writing this chronicle from, if you listen to the news, a very dangerous place : Place Bellecour in Lyon (on a news network, they would add an ominous “Tam Dam Dam” to the soundtrack).
I’m in France covering the lovely Festival Lumiere, a week of classic films from all around the world in superb restored print. It’s a beautiful week where filmmakers, actors and movie lovers meet each other around classic movies.
The problem is that Lyon has become a Covid hot zone in the last week. It kind of dampened this atmosphere. We have to be very careful here, mask, social distancing, hand sanitizer. The central place of the festival, a kind of ephemeral village built just for the week of the festival, has been closed. No bars, very restrictive rules in restaurants, no parties… It’s something really different.
You see, in the word “festival,” there is “festive.” This festival is not festive. It’s still a festival, but the festivities are gone. Thankfully, the movies are still here, the theaters have been sold out (to the limit of the new legal capacity, which is 50% in France), and, most importantly, people are still enjoying the movies. But that’s about it this year.
And I wonder: is this the future of all our cultural events? Is this the way we will all attend festivals in the years to come? And if yes, is it really worth it?
I was asking myself this question until I went to a screening of a French classic, probably one of the most famous French comedy: “Les Tontons Flingueurs”.
The theater was full of teenagers and young adults, lots of students in Lyon, and they were laughing like crazy to the jokes of Lino Ventura, Francis Blanche, Maurice Biraud, to the perfect dialogs written by Michel Audiard, to the slapstick comedies so well directed by George Lautner. The kids were happy, they were laughing to the same thing that made us laugh for years. It was a form of transmission of culture. The festival had succeeded.
That is the most important. We can pause the parties, the festivities for a while, even if it’s for a longer time than we hoped, but we should never stop sharing the culture. It’s essential. Festivals are here for that. The fun, we can wait a little, it will come back. Culture, we can’t, it has to be a part of our life every day. We have to share it every day.
Even in a hot zone like Place Bellecour in Lyon.
To learn more about cultural events during this unprecedented time, including drive-in movies at the Camden International Film Festival, and the release of 16 Printemps Suzanne Lindon, daughter of Sandrine Kiberlain and Vincent Lindon, tune in to Rendez-vous d’Amérique on TV5MONDE USA. Click here for more information.
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