A second rendezvous

9 11 2012

Having been treated to a host of some wonderful French films at a first rendezvous with French Cinema last December, including the opening movie, the fabulous Michel Hazanavicius silent movie The Artist, which made waves at the Oscars, more treats await French cinema fans this year at a second rendezvous. The festival is back as the Societe Generale Private Banking 2nd Rendezvous With French Cinema which will run from 5 to 9 December 2012. A total of 12 films will be screened at two venues – The Cathay as well as the Alliance Française de Singapour.

Ms Linda Black opening the Societe Generale Private Banking 2nd Rendezvous with French Cinema’s press conference yesterday.

This year’s festival hopes to reach to a wider audience with something for people of all ages including a hand-drawn animated film aimed at younger audiences, Day of the Crows (Le jour des corneilles). The film, based on a novel, tells a tale of a boy who lives in the the forest, raised by a tyrannical giant of a father who prevents the son from exploring beyond limited boundaries. The film also features the voice of Jean Reno of Nikita (1990) fame. Other films that will be screened include the opening film, Happiness Never Comes Alone (Un bonheur n’arrive jamais seul), which makes a Southeast Asian debut. Directed by James Huth, Happiness Never Comes Alone stars the gorgeous Sophie Marceau in a love story between two people who as the trailer that was shown and the synopsis does suggest are made for each other because they have nothing in common. Sophie plays Charlotte, a twice divorced mother of three with a professional career who meets Sacha, played by Gad Elmaleh, a happy-go-lucky jazz pianist.

Sacha (Gad Elmaleh) meets Charlotte (Sophie Marceau) in Happiness Never Comes Alone.

Sophie who is well known for her roles in the movie Braveheart (1995) and the James Bond movie, The World Is Not Enough (1999), will make her appearance in Singapore as part of this year’s cast of celebrities who will grace the event. The cinematic delegation which will be here to promote French cinema to local and regional audiences will include actors Christopher Lambert (of Highlander fame), Sophie’s better half; as well as Charles Berling, Fleur-Lise Heuet, Anne le Ny, Dimitri Storoge; directors Lorraine Lévy, Carine Tardieu and Jean-Christophe Dessaint; and producers Jérôme Seydoux and Marc-Antoine Robert. The delegation will also be accompanied by Unifrance Chairman, Antoine de Clermont-Tonnerre as well as Sophie Seydoux of Fondation Pathé-Jérôme Seydoux.

Ms Black; His Excellency Olivier Caron, the French Ambassador to Singapore; Mr Olivier Gougeon, Regional Chief Executive Officer – Asia Pacific; and Ms Michelle Lim, Managing Director of Reed Exhibitions at the press conference.

Other films of note that will be screened are Untouchable (Intouchables) which does seem like one that should not be missed. France’s official selection for the foreign language film category at next year’s Oscars, Untouchable examines a friendship that develops between Philippe (François Cluzet), a wealthy quadraplegic and Driss (Omar Sy), a poor man hired as his live-in caregiver. The film which has been a hit grossing $355 million worldwide so far is directed by Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano. Another one that does seem to be worth watching is The Other Son (Le Fils de l’Autre), which has recently won an award at the Tokyo Sakura Grand Prix at the 25th Tokyo Film Festival. The Other Son, directed by Lorraine Lévy, looks at two families, one Israeli and the other Palestinian, who find out that the sons they have raised had been exchanged at birth.

In Intouchables, Philippe played by François Cluzet, a wealthy quadraplegic develops a friendship with his caregiver Driss, played by Omar Sy.

The movie poster for Le Fils de L’Autre (The Other Son).

Other films that will be shown during the festival include Armed Hands (Mains Armées) directed by Pierre Jolivet; My Lucky Star (Ma bonne étoile) which stars Christopher Lambert and Fleur-Lise Heuet; Rust and Bone (De rouille et d’os), directed by Jacques Audiard and starring Marion Cotillard; and What’s In A Name (Le Prénom), directed by Matthieu Delaporte and starring Charles Berling. In addition to the 12 films, a special screening of The Children of Paradise (Les enfants du paradis) will also take place at the National Museum of Singapore Cinematheque. The Children of Paradise is a French film classic from 1945, which has been preserved and digitally remastered by the Pathé-Jérôme Seydoux Foundation.

Christopher Lambert in My Lucky Star (Ma bonne étoile).

For a second year, the visiting delegation will also participate in Asia TV Forum & Market, Asia’s largest content market and a partner trade event of the festival. A feature this year will be a schools’ outreach programme during which masterclasses will be conducted for students from Ngee Ann Polytechnic School of Film & Media Studies and Tisch School of the Arts Asia. The masterclasses will be conducted by directors Lorraine Lévy, Carine Tardieu and Jean-Christophe Dessaint and will facilitate an exchange of knowledge and skills specific to French cinema. The festival will also offer members of the public hoping for a chance to meet some of the actors and directors that opportunity. Post screening sessions at the festival venues will be held which will allow audiences to interact with the actors and directors.

About Societe Generale Private Banking 2nd Rendezvous With French Cinema:

Societe Generale Private Banking 2nd Rendezvous With French Cinema is organised by Institut Français, Unifrance and Alliance Française de Singapour and sponsored by Societe Generale Private Banking. Societe Generale Private Banking 2nd Rendezvous With French Cinema also has the strong support of several other French businesses including luxury champagne house Perrier-Jouet as the Official Champagne, Air France as Official Airline, Angénieux as Official Film Industry Support, and Renault as Official Festival Car. Other sponsors include Raffles Hotel as Official Hotel and The Wall Street Journal as Official International Newspaper. The festival is organised with the support of the Embassy of France and the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI), together with partners Asia TV Forum & Market, ScreenSingapore, MDA, TV5Monde and France 24. Societe Generale Private Banking 2nd Rendezvous With French Cinema is a part of Encore the European Season and Voilah! 2012.

Societe Generale Private Banking 2nd Rendezvous With French Cinema will run from 5 to 9 December 2012. Tickets will be priced at $12 and $11 for members of the Alliance Française de Singapour. The festival’s film schedule and advance online booking will be made available to the public from 14 November 2012. More ticketing and film programme details can be found at the festival’s website (which will go live on 14 November 2012).

Chairs and nudity at the Traffic Police HQ

28 05 2012

For many in my generation, mention the Traffic Police HQ, and Maxwell Road immediately comes to mind. That was of course a long time ago and traffic cops that have long been be associated with what must certainly be a wonderful work of architecture along Maxwell Road have since moved away. The building which housed the HQ now sees a second life as the Red Dot Design Museum and on Wednesday evening, it played host to an event that featured 35 chairs – specially designed Louis Arm Chairs. And where, one may wonder, does nudity come into all this? We didn’t have to look far – that came in the form of Linda Black, who co-hosted the event with her husband Oli Pettigrew. It wasn’t that she hosted the event unclothed (she did remark that the guests of the event would probably have been disappointed to see she had her clothes on) – she appeared in the buff to portray the Venus of Botticelli’s famous masterpiece for one of a series of publicity posters for the cause for which the event was held. The posters also included those of several well-known celebrities, including US actor and DJ Bobby Tonelli, who also appeared in the nude to portray Rodin’s The Thinker.

Linda Black’s depiction of Venus.

And Bobby Tonelli as The Thinker.

The nudity was all in good taste of course – and all for a good cause – CHAIRITY Arts & Design Against Cancer. A collaborative platform for artists and designers to express their interpretation of Cancer onto a piece of classical European furniture – the Louis Arm Chair, CHAIRITY, which is supported by the Singapore Cancer Society, aims to raise funds through its artworks to support cancer patients as well as to increase the level of awareness of cancer. This, along with the artistic effort in the form of the chairs created, were unveiled at the event, which was graced by several distinguished guests including former President of Singapore, S R Nathan. Also at the event was CHAIRITY’s founder, Imis Iskandar, who made an emotional speech during which he revealed that it was his father’s fight against cancer that motivated him to start the cause together with his partner in BACK REST, Gary Ng.

Former President S R Nathan was at the event to lend his support to the launch of CHAIRITY.

In his speech, Imis paid a glowing tribute to his father, who despite being very ill, was able to make the event. Imis also explained how he came to the idea of using a chair as an art piece for the cause. Having been very much connected with furniture making – Imis’ father was a furniture maker and BACK REST is very much involved in the trade, he thought of using something that he well knew that – a commonly used item of furniture that most don’t take much notice of – unless of course the item has very distinguishing characteristics. Imis felt that the chair, as such, was very representative of cancer as a disease. Cancer which although is all around us – a number one killer in many parts of the world and can affect anyone and bring pain and suffering to them as well as their families, is a disease most of us do not realise is there until it strikes someone close to us – very much like how the chair is seen by Imis.

One of the eye-catching chairs – “Heart Mosaic” by Wong Renzhi of St. Andrew’s School.

Some 30 Singaporean based artists were involved in the effort in which they transformed a Louis Arm Chair to provide their interpretation of the disease. The artists behind includes a number of personalities including Linda Black herself who designed a chair in a homage to her grandmother, Margaret Pearl Vogt Webster, who passed away from cancer some 20 years back. There were several eye-catching designs – including one by Tan Haur called “This is not a chair” which had some hearts that replaced stars on the back rest that resembled the Singapore flag – stars inspired by the stars that were stuck on to reward good work in school which the artist felt could be turned into love and care in education.

Linda Black with S R Nathan next to the chair she designed in homage to her grandmother who was a cancer victim.

Tan Haur’s “This is not a chair”.

There was also time at the event for two surprises to be sprung – one came in the form of surrealist Rosihan painting a chair live to open the event, the other came in the form of the beautiful voice of an 11 year-old naturalised Singaporean, Miguel Antonio, who has been described as having the “Voice of an Angel”.

Rosihan painting a chair live …

“Voice of an angel” – 11 year old Miguel Antonio.

Miguel Antonio with former President, S R Nathan.

More information for CHAIRITY can be found at the CHAIRITY Facebook Page and also at the blog site of photographer Maryann Koh of The Studio Loft, who did the shoot for the publicity material and whom I had the pleasure of meeting at the event. The 35 chairs, many of which have already received pledges for, will be back at the Red Dot Design Museum for a Public Exhibition on Friday 1 June 2012 (one day only) at the Market of Artists and Designers (MAAD). The exhibition will be open from 5 pm to midnight.

The artists posing for a photograph with S R Nathan and the good people behind CHARITY.

Didier Ng’s “I miss grandma’.