16 décembre 2014

Matisse - a cut above the rest

The weather wasn't kind to the large group of art lovers who filled the Dark Horse Coffee House on Wednesday 10 December to be escorted by Aine MacParland through the colourful world of Henri Matisse.
Aine's enthusiasm for her subject was readily apparent as she flicked her way through her iPad presentation.  She began at Le Cateau-Cambresis in Northern France where Henri-Emile-Benoit Matisse was born on New Year's Eve, 1869. Aine explained that although his father was a grain merchant, the family background was one of weaving and the young Henri grew up surrounded by a variety of colurful fabrics.
He had graduated as a lawyer and had been destined for a careeer in that profession until he suffered a bout of appendicitis.  It was while recovering from this that his mother provided him with some art materials and he discovered what he called a kind of paradise, throwing hiimself into that new world as a beast plunges into something it loves.
Referring to several works, Aine took us on a style journey - stopping for a while to consider and explain how Matisse came to be associated with the movement of the Fauves, the wild beasts.
We were introduced to some key people in Matisse's life among them his wife Noellie from whom he would later separate and Russian art collector, Sergei Shchukin who considered the artist's work to be above the rest.
Aine went on to explain that Matisse received much unfavourable criticism of his work and that along with his wont of buying works of other artists and his own materials often meant that his young family found it difficult to make ends meet.
We learned that, in 1917, Matisse moved to Cimiez outside Nice on the French Riviera, Aine all the while pointing out the qualities of his art, bringing us through a series of paintings to 1939 and the aforementioned separation from Noellie. Shortly afterwards a further period of illness meant the artist had a colostomy with mobility only possible with the use of a wheelchair.
Matisse overcame the confinements of this situation through "painting with scissors", creating his famous gouaches découpés - cut outs - many of which Aine noted had been recently displayed in the Tate and were currently showing in the MoMA in New York.
Caring for Matisse in what would be the later stages of his life was his nurse, Monique Bourgeois. We learned that Monique in addition to being Matisse's nurse was also his student, sometimes model and artist who would later become a Dominican nun.  It was their association, that would provide Matisse with what he considered his masterwork - the decoration of La Chapelle de Vence on the hillside above Nice, completed in 1951.
The artist died in 1954 and was buried in the cemetery of Cimiez where four year's later his wife, Noellie would be enterred alongside him.

Finally, Aine took questions from the audience and as an artist herself confirmed that she would provide us with a iPad painting that we could present on our site as a record of a most memorable and colourful evening on the modern master Matisse.

13 décembre 2014

Matisse evening

Thanks to Louise Scott of French Vintage Vie for sharing this photo from Wednesday evening's talk by Aine MacParland on Matisse. A report on the evening, accompanied by Aine's promised ipad painting will be posted shortly.

Meantime, we'd like to see your comments or any pictures you would like to share.

À bientôt.



24 novembre 2014

Tour de France des Pâtisseries

Forty foodie francophiles found their way to the Dark Horse Coffee House for an evening in the company of Hélène Guillet and Philip McCrory who treated us to their Tour de France des Pâtisseries.

The now celebrated double act started with a good breakfast example in the form of a croissant, dipping between English and French, along the way discussing the merits of pur beurre de Normandie proving methods and whether the pastry was frozen or not. The discussion didn't last long because there were another ten treats to come.
The patisserie partnership provided a page of clues for participants to guess what might be next. Second on the list was a hit for cycling fans, not the Tour de France but the epic Paris-Brest endurance race, commemorated in the famous cycle-wheel bun.

Next up was a tantalising Tarte Tatin which some members recalled had featured in a dedicated talk of its own several years ago with Claudine reminding us that its birthplace was Lamotte-Beuvron in the Région Centre.
Attention shifted to a butter cake made in the fishing port of Douranenez in Brittany. No-one deduced that it was the Kouign-Amann. Et toi?
Fans of the Great British Bake-Off reported that the Gâteau St.Honoré, named after the patron of bakers and pastry makers had not only featured on that programme but also on James Martin's Saturday Kitchen. French pastries get around!
The Gâteau Basque was an interesting find and Hélène, who had sampled quite a few of the delicacies purely in the interests of research, pointed out that this cake can have two different fillings each designated by distinctive designs on the crust. Also interesting was the youngest of the recipes; a relative new-comer the Opéra cake was created by the Dalloyau Gastronomy House in the 1950s.
Members agreed that the Religieuse, so-called because of its ressemblance to a nun in habit, was aptly named.

Up to now participants had deciphered the clues fairly quickly but it took a bit of coaching on Hélène and Philip's part to get the next one.

The clue focussed on pictures of a couple of lengthy books and led us to A la recherche du temps perdu - Marcel Proust's masterwork. The connection?
This became apparent as Helene read an extract from the first volume, Du Côté du Chez Swann, in which the author visits his Aunt Léonie for Sunday morning tea and Madeleines. Proust recalls years later how the taste of a madeleine transports him back across time and place. It turns out that the madeleine was a firm favourite among those present with several helpfully suggesting that local supermarkets stock the Bon Maman fleur d'orange variety.
Tenth on the list was the Millefeuille whose clue Philip had decided to illustrate with a centipede. It may not have been the most obvious comparison but was immediately guessed. Hélène noted that the mille-feuille as we know it today was developed by Marie-Antoine Carême - the celebrity chef of his day - which prompted Claudine to point out that the surname Carême means Lent in French.
There was one more delicacy to comment.
At this point Helene and Philip graciously offered the floor and introduced Tracey Jeffrey, patronne of the locally based Eva Paris Macarons company, who to the delight of those present had brought along some samples of her products for a dégustation.

Tracey, a former teacher and trainer, explained how some years ago she returned to a French pâtisserie she had once worked in and had been taught the art of macaron making. It was not a skill to be acquired overnight or even a few weeks. She explained that it took some years to get the result she wanted, experimenting with natural flavours. Her efforts paid off, with both her macarons and her business winning awards.

Hélène, Philip and Tracey had provided a thoroughly enjoyable evening with macarons being the icing on the cake so to speak and where seeing the delight on the face of members was a treat in itself.lose

10 novembre 2014

Mojo Mickeybo by Owen McCafferty in French

We were delighted to hear that MOJO MICKYBO by Owen McCafferty, translated into French by Brigitte Bastiat and Frank Healy, will be performed at the BRIAN FRIEL THEATRE - 20 University Square - on Thursday 20th November at 7.30pm (till 9pm)

All tickets are £5 and to book email studentshows@qub.ac.uk

There is also a bi-lingual seminar with the author, director and translators at the same venue 2-4pm on Friday 21st.

09 novembre 2014

Bulletin mensuel - novembre 2014

Chers Amis,

Over the next few weeks there are a number of events with a French connection taking place in Belfast. They range from a walk in the Mournes to a special screening in the Strand Cinema and a play telling the story of Jacques Brel in the Lyric to name but a few. Let's start with our own event ….

The next meeting of the Cercle Français de Belfast will be on ….

mercredi 12 novembre 2014
à 19h.30
in Dark Horse Coffee House,
30-34, Hill Street Belfast BT1 2LB

Topic : Le tour de France des pâtisseries
Speakers : Hélène GUILLET et Philip McGRORY

They’re back! After last year’s very successful double-act, Hélène and Philip return to take us on a gastronomic tour of France’s most famous pâtisseries.

Une balade in the Mournes

On Saturday 8th November you are invited to join BreizhEire (the Breton- Irish music society) for a walk in the Mournes.

Randonnée  à  Slieve Donard dans les Mourne Mountains le Samedi 8 Novembre, rendez-vous à Donard Park (dans le parking, au drapeau breton), Newcastle, à 11h. Apportez votre pique-nique, de l'eau, des bonnes chaussures et un sac de couchage
Meet at 11 am (sharp) at Donard Park (look for the breton flag in the car park) in Newcastle, Co. Down. Bring a picnic, water, water proof clothing and some good walking boots/shoes.
Whatever the weather you will be assured of good exercise, good fun, good company, good craic and of course good music.

Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris

Thanks to Maude, Alison and Claire who have been in touch to tell me that the play
“Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris”
is running in the
Lyric Theatre, Belfast from 11th-15th November.

Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris’ is a unique piece that was last performed at the Lyric Theatre in Belfast in 1980.  It was an overwhelming success in its original off-Broadway production back in 1968 and in subsequent runs in Sydney, Paris, Amsterdam and Dublin. Time Out New York dubbed it “The best musical revue ever!”  Jacques Brel himself is not only considered a master of the modern chanson but Brel's much-translated songs have influenced generations of artists.

Claire from the play's production company (Blunt Fringe) also tells me that everyone who comes to the Opening Night (11th Nov) is invited to a Hennessy drinks reception + the chance to WIN a VIP stay at Ballygally Castle. Furthermore if you book as a large group of 11+  there is a reduction of 25% which would mean that tickets would be only £13.10 on Wed/Thur night and Sat matinee.

Joyeux Noel at the Strand.

Merci Sheila, who emailed to let me know that on
Tuesday 9th December
there will be a special screening of 'Joyeux Noel'
in the Strand Arts Centre, 156 Holywood Road, Belfast BT4.
Joyeux Noel, which is a 2005 French film about the World War I Christmas truce of December 1914, depicted through the eyes of French, Scottish and German soldiers. On Christmas Eve during world War I, the Germans, French, and Scottish fraternize and get to know the men who live on the opposite side of a brutal war, in what became a true lesson of humanity. Tickets £10 includes drinks reception before the movie. All money raised will be donated to help run Four Corners Festival 2015 (www.fourcornersfestival.com).
For more information and to book see ...

French films at QFT in November

Fri 14 – Mon 17 Nov


Dir: Jacques Tati
Cast: Jacques Tati, Barbara, Dennek, Rita Maiden
France/Italy 1967
2 hrs 4 mins

Newly restored and considered by many to be Jacques Tati’s masterpiece, PlayTime is
a perfectly orchestrated city symphony. Shot on 70mm on a huge constructed set of concrete, glass and steel, the film was the most ambitious project Tati ever took on.

Monsieur Hulot has a job interview - but before he can worry about impressing his
future employer, he’ll need to find them first. Landing in a reimagined modernist Paris,
he has to navigate endless corridors, slippery floors, sinking chairs, sliding doors and misleading reflections in a high-tech corporate labyrinth where organised chaos reigns and Hulot sticks out as
a misaligned cog in the machinery of modern life.

Sat 22 Nov, 1pm

False Movement
UK Premiere

Dir: Christophe Cousin
Cast: Aure Atika, Zacharie Chasseriaud, Antoine L’écuyer
France/Canada 2014
1 Hr 25 Mins
Age: 15+

Victor feels adrift. Uprooted by his mother from Paris to his new home in Quebec City, he’s still reeling from the recent death of his father. One day while skipping class, Victor stumbles upon a classmate’s suicide. A touching coming-of-age film, False Movement is a modern story of grief, connection and the stories we tell ourselves.

Sat 22 Nov, 3pm

The Good Life

Dir: Jean Denizot
Cast: Zacharie Chasseriaud, Nicolas Bouchaud, Jules Pélissier
France 2013
1 Hr 33 Mins
Age: 15+

This spin on the coming-of-age tale tells the story of 16-year-old Sylvain, growing up in the Loire Valley and living off the official grid with his father for reasons he is starting to realise are more pressing than philosophical. His doubts take form with his first budding love, but the film is rewardingly optimistic, seeing possibilities instead of just pitfalls.

Sat 6 Dec, 3.00pm

La Grande Illusion

Dir: Jean Renoir
Cast: Jean Gabin, Dita Parlo, Pierre Fresnay
France 1937
1 Hrs 54 Mins

Jean Renoir’s masterpiece is one of the greatest anti-war films ever made, with a message that rings as true today as it did almost 80 years ago. Rightly considered one of the greatest pacifist films of all time. La Grande Illusion has a humanitarian resonance that extends far beyond its anti-war message. Following the adventures of a group of prisoners of war and their heroic bid for freedom, their travails are depicted with compelling detail and a dark wit.

Sun 21 Dec, 3.30pm

Joyeux Noel
(MERRY Christmas)

Dir: Christian Carion
Cast: Diane Kruger, Benno Fürmann, Guillaume Canet
France/Germany/UK/Belgium/Romania/ Norway 2005
1 Hrs 56 Mins

One of the happier moments of the Great War is recounted in this warm-hearted film that tells the story of the 1914 Christmas truce on the Western Front. Rising above the horrors that surrounded them, on Christmas Eve 1914 Germans, British and French troops all laid down their arms, to exchange gifts, sing carols and play football.

For full details of QFT's Programme see...

A bientôt

La Marseillaise - 8 octobre 2014

The first talk of the new season was given by Chris Tracey and featured La Marseillaise. It was a talk that had been intended for quite some time and final planning coincided with controversy in the French media about the national anthem. Some of that polemic was included in the presentation.
The story started with Rouget de Lisle being asked by the mayor of Strasbourg to compose a stirring chant de guerre for the army of the Rhine. The year was 1792 which turned out to be a critical period of French history.
Chris explained how the battle song got its name and distributed copies of the lyrics for members. He explained how the song was at times in and out of favour as revolutionary fervour ebbed and flowed.
Directing members' attention to various YouTube sources - type in La Marseillaise and you will find hundreds of renditions - he explored the importance of the anthem to France in times of national crisis.
Next it was on to those polemiques beginning with Serge Gainsbourg's association with La Marseillaise.  In 1979 he had recorded a reggae version entitles Aux Armes et caetera which had provoked outrage. Later he would bid at auction for a copy of the song, in which Rouget de Lisle had abbreviated his chorus using that same wording. This YouTube link conveys some of the tension of that controversy.
Another controversy involved President Jacques Chirac who left the stand at a football match when some supporters whistled during the playing of the anthem. In lighter vein, there was some bemusement when at an entertainment for G8 leaders, Jules Holland performed the Beatles song, All you need is love. The French president, mistaking the opening bars for La Marseillaise immediately stood to attention prompting other world leaders to do the same.
More recent controversy surrounded France's Justice Minister, Christiane Taubira who likened the public singing of the anthem to Karaoke.  Her observation was a riposte to those who had criticised her for not singing along when it was performed at a public ceremony to commemorate the abolition of slavery.  She made the point that when a soloist was giving the rendition it was all the more poignant and she preferred to listen on such occasions. The controversy rolled on over the summer with French actor, Lambert Wilson deploring what he called the xenophobic lyrics of the song. Both sides of that argument were considered.
Finally, a possible replacement or at least revision of the song was played. This had been produced by the organisation for a new Marseillaise and is available here.  Opinion was divided among members perhaps proving that controversy and the anthem go hand in hand.. or step by step.

29 septembre 2014

Photos from opening night

Brian Shanks and Maryvonne Le Roy
Stringing conversation...

The finished Scrabble board - version française bien sur
Jonathan, Maryvonne, Seamus et Claudine..

09 septembre 2014

Bulletin mensuel - septembre 2014

Chers Amis,
C’est la rentrée.  Yes it’s that time of year when we settle back into our autumn routine.  The Cercle Français de Belfast will be starting our new season with its first meeting on 17th September but I thought that you might also like to hear of a few other happenings with a French connection taking place in Belfast … or not too far away.

French Films at QFT

Fri 12 – Mon 15 & Thurs 18 Sept

Attila Marcel

Full of music, dance sequences and colourful production design, Attila Marcel takes its heightened reality cues from visionary modern directors such as Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Michel Gondry.

Director:                       Sylvain Chomet
Running Time:             1 Hr 46 Mins
Released:                      2013
Country:                       France
Cast:                             Guillaume Gouix, Anne Le Ny, Bernadette Lafont

For full details of QFT’s September programme see …

French Dancing in the heart of Belfast

Our friends in Bal Feirste and BreizhEire will be back in Maddens for their monthly session on the 2nd Sat of each month (starting September 13th) with Bal Folk, a mixture of dances from across France. You will be delighted to know that they have come back from France with lots of new tunes and new dances too. . they can't wait to share!!
Saturday 13th September
Madden’s Bar, 74 Berry StreetBelfast from 5pm to 8pm

News from the l’Alliance Française de Dublin
Fondation AF:  On joue sur la Terre
12 September - 31 OctoberAdmission free
The theme of the 4th International photography competition of the Fondation Alliance française was “On joue sur la Terre” and the winner of our own competition, Tommie Lehane, was one of 20 international finalists selected by the Grand Jury!  l’Alliance Française de Dublin is proud to present selection of the best works submitted by Alliances Françaises from all around the globe!
Alliance Française de Dublin

Open Day 2014
Admission free

Saturday 13 September – 11am-5pm

For full details of l’Alliance Française de Dublin September programme see ….

And, don’t forget the first meeting of the new season for the CercleFrançais de Belfast will take place in The Dark Horse café on Wednesday 17th September at 7.30pm.

A bientôt,  Philip

28 juillet 2014

Le mot juste

Prochainement, notre programme d'activités

French Book Giveaway

If you are in Dublin during the summer, up to 5 September, you might like to check out this offer from Alliance Française, Dublin. You’ll find them on the corner of Nassau and Kildare Street, at the side of Trinity College. There’s also a very nice café.

According to AFDublin:

"In order to make room for new books, the Library will be giving books away all summer long! Have a look as you pass through our Reception and Café – with paperbacks, graphic novels, non-fiction, children’s books, you never know what treasure you may unearth!All the books are free, but donations will be gratefully accepted and used for the upkeep of the Médiathèque."

More information

22 juin 2014

French films at QFT

Chers Amis,
Thank you to Hélène and Maude who drew my attention to the fact that over the next few weeks QFT will be screening no less than five French films including Cédric Klapisch’s comedy trilogy L'Auberge Espagnole, Les Poupées russes and Casse-tête chinois.

Sat 28th June at 1:20pm  and  Sun 29th June at 1:20pm

L'Auberge Espagnole   (Pot Luck)

Xavier (Duris) is a young Parisian who embarks on a European exchange scheme in Barcelona - and has to take pot luck by sharing an apartment with a culturally diverse group of fellow students. He says farewell to his family and girlfriend (Tautou)...and then the fun begins.

Director:           Cédric Klapisch
Run Time:         2 hours  2minutes
Released:          2002
Country:           France/Spain
Cast:                Romain Duris, Judith Godrèche, Audrey Tautou

Sat 28th June at 3:50pm  and  Sun 29th June at 3:50pm

Les Poupées russes   (Russian Dolls)
Five years after their year together in Barcelona, the Pot Luck team of Xavier (Romain Duris), William (Kevin Bishop), Wendy (Kelly Reilly), Martine (Audrey Tatou) and Isabelle (Cécile de France) reunite for a Russian wedding. Set in London, Paris and St. Petersburg, Russian Dolls is a romantic comedy about growing up, making choices and finding love in unexpected places.
Director:           Cédric Klapisch
Run Time:         2 hours  9minutes
Released:          2005
Country:           France/UK
Cast:                Romain Duris, Kelly Reilly, Audrey Tautou

The trilogy concludes with Casse-tête chinois (Chinese Puzzle) on

Fri 4th July to Thu 10th July

Casse-tête chinois   (Chinese Puzzle)

It's been over a decade since Cédric Klapisch first introduced us to the beloved group of friends sharing a Barcelona apartment in Pot Luck. Three years later, they were brought back together for a wedding in Russian Dolls and now a third outing arrives in the form of Chinese Puzzle.
Xavier's (Duris) life is turned upside down when his wife Wendy (Kelly Reilly) announces she's moving to NY and taking the kids. A few months later, he's on a transatlantic flight as well. From fathering a child to a lesbian couple, to marrying a Chinese-American to get papers, to reigniting a flame with his first love who comes for a visit, Xavier and his world really do seem like a Chinese Puzzle...
Director:           Cédric Klapisch
Run Time:         1 hour  57minutes
Released:          2013
Country:           France/USA/Belgium
Cast:                Romain Duris, Audrey Tautou, Cécile de France

Other French film showing at QFT in July are …..

Fri25th July to Thu 31st July

Grand Central

French nuclear workers face the twin perils of radiation and amorous meltdown in a terrific blue-collar drama starring Tahar Rahim (A Prophet) and Léa Seydoux (Blue Is the Warmest Colour).
Tahar Rahim plays Gary, who signs on for work in a nuclear power plant (the ‘Central' of the title). He's inducted into the workforce by supervisor Gilles (Gourmet) and hard-bitten veteran Toni (Ménochet), only to discover that radiation contamination is not just a risk factor but an everyday hazard. But also pushing Gary towards meltdown is his simmering attraction to Toni's girlfriend Karole (Seydoux).
Rahim and Seydoux crackle like isotopes in their own right, and an urgent jazz score by Robin Coudert pushes this atomic drama into the red.
Director:           Rebecca Zlotowski
Run Time:         1 hour 35 minutes
Released:          2013
Country:           France/Austria
Cast:                Tahar Rahim, Léa Seydoux, Olivier Gourmet, Denis Ménochet

Sun 27th July at 4:30pm

Jeux interdits  (Forbidden Games)

Mark Cousins' Cinema of Childhood season continues with one of the greatest anti-war statements ever filmed.
German fighter planes massacre a column of refugees fleeing Paris on a country road. A dazed little orphaned girl is left wandering the fields clutching her dead dog. She's adopted by a peasant boy who brings her into his eccentric family. The children retreat into a fantasy world, but they cannot hide from reality forever.
René Clément's angry masterpiece blends tragedy and farce into a heart-breaking account of children caught in a war they can't possibly understand, and it made Brigitte Fossey a star at the age of just 5.
Director:           René Clément
Run Time:         1 hour 26 minutes
Released:          1952
Country:           France
Cast:                Georges Poujouly, Brigitte Fossey, Amédée

For full details of QFT’s programme seewww.queensfilmtheatre.com

A bientôt,