January 3, 2017

'FRENCHLATION' SHOWS WAY TO FATHOM FRENCH FILMS

For movie fans who don’t speak French, going to the cinema in Paris can be a limiting experience. Do you stick to films made in English, with French subtitles, or do you brave the screening of a French film, with no English subtitles – hoping you’ll at least get some of the dialogue?

Happily, there’s another choice: you can go to the special events of Lost in Frenchlation – a company that presents recently released French films with English subtitles, and which now has a partnership with WICE.

Matthew Bryan and Manon Kerjean,
the co-founders of Lost in Frenchlation.
At these screenings, spectators not only get to watch the films, but they also have the opportunity to meet other movie-goers in a convivial atmosphere. That’s because Lost in Frenchlation provides an added social component, enabling ex-pats living in Paris to meet over cocktails after the movie.

Started in 2015 by French and Australian friends, Manon Kerjean and Matthew Bryan, the initiative was born from the wish to be able to see the same films together.

“Manon is passionate about film, but we could never go together to see a French film because there were no subtitles in English,” Matt recalls. “The idea really came when we couldn’t find a cinema showing a subtitled version of a movie that we really wanted to see. And besides, we believe that French cinema is a part of France’s culture, so it’s important to have access to this.”

The two met as Erasmus (year-abroad) students in Berlin, Germany, in 2014 and developed the idea for Lost in Frenchlation on Manon’s return to Paris, where Matt also lived for several months -- he now shares his time between the French capital and London. They said they decided to focus mostly on independent, art-house films.

Poster for Demain Tout Commence.
If such movies have been shown in international festivals, there’s usually a subtitled version, and it is this that they work to obtain for the screenings. “We try to show movies close to the national screening date, so that English-speakers see it nearly at the same time as other cinema-goers,” Manon says.

Their team provides two screening per month, in Montmartre and in the 10th arrondissement, with shows in Paris’s oldest cinema, Studio 28. They’ve shown films such as Mon Roi, the highly rated Divines – set in a Parisian suburb – and the moving Réparer les vivants (Heal the Living), all of which had packed houses.

On Jan. 6, they will screen Demain Tout Commence, starring popular French actor Omar Sy. The film, about a playboy character who suddenly finds himself with a baby that he might have fathered, is a comedy as well as a tear-jerker, and it raises relevant issues about the notion of family in contemporary society. Those who have already seen the film in its original version might also gain added insight from the English subtitles.

“We’re opening up the world of French cinema to the international community in Paris,” Manon says. “This is a part of French culture, and you can also make friends while having a great night out.”

For more information and to book tickets for screenings, see:  http://lostinfrenchlation.com.

November 29, 2016

A BRIEF AUTUMN TALE OF WICE AND GOOD WINE, IN PARIS

It was a brisk, dark evening in the 5th arrondissement of Paris, but from inside a shop with wooden floors and beams on the ceiling, lights beckoned.

The lights … were in the shape of wine bottles. And so began the introduction to Thierry Givone’s “Wine Tasting in Paris”, a company that partners with WICE to offer courses in appreciating and recognizing different kinds of wine.

Thierry Givone pours a Beaujolais.
On this particular night, Nov. 18, Givone focused on the Beaujolais region for a course that comprised tasting seven very different wines, including two types of Beaujolais Nouveau. This is of course the most known wine from the area located just south of Burgundy, and the course took place a day after its official release and national fete, with people filling cafés for a glass or two.

In fact, much of the Gamay wine that Beaujolais produces is sold and drunk before the harvest year is over. But what can be confusing to new drinkers is the disconnect between Beaujolais’ image and the taste of its top wines – whose producers aren’t too enamoured of the stereotypical representation, Givone hinted. 

So, along with the “nouveau”, WICE members got to sample a Julienas and two surperb Morgons, among others. They additionally learned about the producing region, its history, and the kind of grape involved (gamay).

Givone describes the region.
“For me, it’s an interest and a passion,” Givone said of the initiative he launched two-and-a-half years ago, after working for 20 years in marketing. “I hope those who participate in the course will develop this passion too, and remember everything that I explain to them.”

His wine-tasting “school” consists of a shop-cum-office decorated with neatly stacked bottles of wine and publications about the beverage. Light-hued wooden floors and dark beams on the ceiling add to the cosy atmosphere in the room reserved for tasting, where course participants sit on high stools at a long wooden table. Buckets are there for those who wish to spit out the wine after tasting.

“I never spit out good wine,” commented one course participant, and indeed some of the wines presented were excellent, totally "unspittable". Most members agreed that only one – a Beaujolais Nouveau – was not up to scratch. With its candy-sweet taste and artificial aroma, it was “not at all recommended”, Givone said frankly.

WICE member Tracey samples the wine.
In contrast, participants were soon raving about an organic Beaujolais cru (superior wine) from the small region of Regnié, and about a Morgon that was produced at one of the best vineyards in the area, located 350 meters above sea level. Givone said the latter could be kept for up to 10 years.

“It’s a spicy, peppery, full-bodied wine with great aging potential,” he told participants, teaching them the vocabulary as well for describing the wine. He also offered saucisson (sausage) and bread as accompaniment to the wines, apparently a perfect combination for Beaujolais.

The nibbles were a welcome idea, because after tasting, and swallowing, sips from seven bottles of wine on an empty stomach, the average person could become quite light-headed, not to mention light-hearted. In fact, at least one participant had to resist the temptation to giggle all the way home (via public transportation, naturally).

Givone is one of two instructors that partner with WICE for a wide range of wine-tasting sessions, and each has different approaches to the world of wine, according to Andrew Hunt, the director of WICE’s Living in France section.

“We hope participants will benefit from the knowledge that the instructors impart and from the joy of tasting different wines each month,” Hunt said. "Cheers!"

The next wine-tasting courses take place on Dec. 1 and 16, focusing on champagne – how to pair it with foie gras and how to appreciate the full “bubbly” experience. For registration information: http://www.wice-paris.org/event-2267862 and http://www.wice-paris.org/event-2267878

Thierry Givone with WICE members after the wine-tasting course.