South Africa and France officially launched the South African leg of their first joint cultural season on 12 July 2012.
Ms. Helene Conway-Mouret, Minister for French nationals abroad, Mr. Paul Mashatile, Minister of Arts and Culture of the Republic of South Africa, and Xavier Darcos, President of the French Institute, launched the French Season in South Africa at the opening of the exhibition "Masters of the Twentieth Century: the Human Figure" at the prestigious Standard Bank Gallery in Johannesburg, which brings masterpieces by artists such as Renoir, Degas, Leger, Braque and Matisse to South Africa for the first time.
This Season will offer more than 80 projects – mainly cultural and artistic, but also economic, sport or scientific – selected by French and South African Commissioners Bongani Tembe and Laurent Clavel between the months of July and November 2012. These projects will allow the South African public a broad overview of contemporary France. Highlighting the richness of ties between France and South Africa, the French Season promises to be of high quality and an exceptional brilliance (www.france-southafrica.com) and will be echoed by a South African Season in France during 2013.
The rich programme includes cultural and collaborative events in various fields – theatre, dance, art, music, photography, cinema, street art, literature, performing arts, innovation, science and technology, education, business, tourism, sport, art de vivre, and more.
The French Season in South Africa 2012 will also highlight trade and economic links between the two countries, featuring events in trade, industry and tourism.
Highlights of the French Season in South Africa 2012 include:
Rendez-vous 12 – exhibition (12 July-14 Oct)
World Conference of Teachers of French(23-27 July)
Social Landscape – photography (July-Nov)
The French Film Festival in South Africa (1-26 August)
Standard Bank Joy of Jazz (23-25 August)
French Daysat eight South African universities (16 Aug-25 Sept)
The Home Movie Factoryworkshop (30 Aug-25 Oct)
Dansel’AfriqueDanse! – biennial of contemporary dance (28 Sept-7 Oct)
Plaisirs de France -tourism and business promotion (15 Oct-15 Nov)
Kunjani’mation #2 – animation film festival(17-21 Oct).
Alluding to President Nelson Mandela’s A Long Walk to Freedom which was supported by Laurent Fabius who was then France’s Prime Minister, Mrs Hélène Conway, Deputy-Minister, recalls the strong links based on common values and ideals, that the Struggle has created between our two countries.
“What do we mean by “Season”? We mean a period of time during which two countries decide to develop concrete projects together, in the cultural field, since it is one of the most creative and easy to share, but also in the educational, research, business, sports, health, youth sectors, etc.”
Minister of Arts and Culture in South Africa, Paul Mashatile said a huge amount of work has gone into the preparation and planning for the South African lag of this multifaceted bilateral collaboration between France and South Africa.
“We are honoured to be the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to host a Season with France. We are doubly excited because this important launch takes place at a time when people in France, and across the world, use the National Day to enjoy and celebrate France’s rich art, culture and cuisine.
“The ultimate goal, through the France-South Africa Seasons 2012 & 2013, is to ensure a better understanding and appreciation of the rich and diverse cultures of the people of France and the people of South Africa.”
French Ambassador to South Africa, Jacques Lapouge added that the Season was not only made up of many kinds of arts and culture initiatives, but extended into business, education, science and technology and agriculture events as well.
“Even during the build-up to the formal start of the French Season in South Africa, we have seen unprecedented levels of cooperation and sharing between French and South African people,” he said.
Laurent Clavel, Commissioner-General of the France-South Africa Seasons 2012 & 2013 on the French side, says while the collaboration was forged at presidential levels in both countries last year, the real cooperation, sharing and exchange is being realised in the 100-odd programmes that make up the French Season.
“Contemporary France is dynamic and diverse and the areas of commonality with South Africa are seeing unique levels of innovation unfold in the different projects,” says Clavel.
Bongani Tembe, Commissioner-General of the Seasons on the South African side, says South African and French artists, film makers, musicians, academics, business people, educators, scientists, farmers and many more have joined forces in their respective fields.
“This has resulted in the richest and deepest level of exchange ever to take place between the people of our two countries,” he added.
“The France-South Africa Seasons 2012 & 2013 invites all South Africans to join in the projects, exhibitions, concerts, performances, colloquiums and interactive sessions taking place across South Africa during the six-month French Season,” says Tembe.
In the second part of 2013 (May – December), the collaboration between the two countries will move to France.
For more information, and to register to be kept up-to-date with the latest news on the French Season in South Africa 2012, visit www.france-southafrica.com.