Culture in France - Who stole Goya's head? A new documentary asks questions about the treatment of artists
Vying for a prize in the Fipadoc international competition category in Biarritz in January 2019 is Oscuros y Lucientes. Madrid director Samuel Alarcon's second film digs into the mystery surrounding Goya's lost head. Despite the serious subject, Alarcon raised a few laughs during the film's French première.
The body of the great Spanish artist was exhumed some 30 years after his burial in the French city of Bordeaux in 1828.
The Spanish consul in the mid-19th century was having the emigré's remains repatriated. When the grave was opened, Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes' head had been removed.
Mixing art history, history of science and an eye for the extraordinary within the ordinary, in today's cities of Bordeaux, Madrid and others, Alarcon's story unfolds gradually and leaves place for his own imagination as well as the spectator's.
"This gives the sensation that a lot of amazing stories are happening all the time."
A cluster of open umbrellas moves away like a dark grey cloud from a statue of the head of Goya as the film gets underway, like Magritte for cinema.
It's not the only almost surreal image conjured by Alarcon as figures move across the screen in synch with the first person narration who addreses Goya.
"As Goya is dead, it's a way to get Goya alive!"
Bringing alive the mood of Goya's paintings and drawings, Oscuros y Lucientes is as strong on research as it is on personal filmmaking and artistic approach
Culture in France - 'Caravaggio in Rome' - Paris museum hosts rare exhibition
Caravaggio in Rome: Friends and Foes is a compact yet intense exhibition running at The Jacquemart-André Museum in Paris. Some of the most important works of the early 17th-century Italian painter, as well as those of his peers and his disciples, are on display. The exhibition explores the painters' milieu, highlighting themes like music, games, romance and religion. RFI's Rosslyn Hyams speaks to Pierre Curie, curator of the Jacquemart-André Museum and co-curator of Caravaggio in Rome.
Culture in France - Giacometti's rough-edged frailty on show in Paris
Paris's Maillol Museum was founded in 1995 by Dina Vierny, a model and close associate for 19th and 20th-century sculptor Aristide Maillol. It is currently showing the works of Swiss artist Alberto Giacometti, along with several works by artists such as Maillol, Aguste Rodin and Germaine Richier. Interesting to compare. To listen to Rosslyn Hyams's radio report click on the arrow in the top right hand of the photo.
Alberto Giacometti spent a lot of time in Paris, in his studio in Montparnasse, and his works have been more or less fashionable over the years since his death in 1966.
Today he is considered as one of the most important sculptors of his generation.
The exhibition at the Musée Maillol in association with the Giacometti Foundation, is laid out to enable an exploration of Giacometti's sculptures and drawing.
In bright white spaces, the delicate heads in glass cubes look all the more vulnerable.
How thin can a person be? Giacometti saw the human figure as frail, even cast in a solid metal like bronze. His rough-edged shapes contrast with the roundness and fullness of Maillol's works. Although Giacometti himself went through a period of more classical creation before formulating the style he is best-known for..
The Giacometti Foundation has picked pieces for this exhibition which show how Giacometti played with ancient art from North Africa, particularly Egypt, and Africa south of the Sahara, which corresponded to his times and remains strikingly adapted to tastes today.
The exhibition runs till March 2019.
Culture in France - Paris exhibition maps out post-WWI turmoil in the east
An exhibition that is part of the French centenary commemorations for the end of World War I provides a fascinating historical and geographical eye-opener, centred on the peace treaties signed after the war and what came next in central and eastern Europe, as well as in the Middle East.
The Museum of the Armies, set in Paris's imposing Invalides complex built in the 17th century under Louis XIV, has brought together rare documents and artefacts, parts of uniforms or weapons, propaganda tools like posters from some 20 collections in France and Europe, east and west.
The museum's film department has joined Gaumont-Pathé in digging out and restored some rarely seen footage.
As part of the many events being organised in France this year for the centenary of the end of World War I, on 11 November 2018, the exhibition sheds light on the lesser known consequences of the devastating war on countries west of France and Italy.
Without ignorng the suffering of the soldiers and their families in the Flanders fields, the exhibition, put together by military historians and geographers, looks at what happened after the fall of four great empires, the Russian, Ottoman, Austro-Hungarian and German.
It shifts the historical emphasis to the east and reveals that after the signing of the Treaty of Versailles on 28 June 1919 conflict and crises were not over.
Geographically, the show moves from the treaty room on to Germany, Poland and the Baltic States and Russia. It pursues its course in Mitteleuropa, Austria, Hungary, Romania, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, Slovenes and Albania.
The last room's focus is on the Levant, on Greece, Turkey, Syria and Lebanon (including Sykes-Picot sketches and a costume worn by TE Lawrence, known as Lawrence of Arabia).
Visitors can take in European border changes in the first room, since the 13th century. Then they can contemplate the question of nationalities and borders, revolutions, counter-revolutions, civil wars and civilian casualties. Finally they can examine the role of France, a country which emerged as a military power to be reckoned with, whose ambassadors and soldiers were highly influential in reestablishing stability.
Culture in France - Films ‘Shock Corridor’ and ‘Day of the Outlaw’ adapted on stage
At the National Drama Centre in Montreuil, a suburb east of Paris, director Mathieu Bauer's double-bill Nuit Américaine adapts two US movies for the stage. Bauer says it's like "diving into the history of cinema and of the US" at the same time.
Click on the arrow in the top right-hand of the photo to listen to the RFI English Culture in France broadcast on 17 October 2018, and hear actors Clément Barthelet and Rémi Fortin talk about their experiences in the plays.
Plays and literature are more often adapted to the screen rather than vice versa. French director Mathieu Bauer thinks differently. He draws all the elements of stage, not least of all illusion, to pull off an entertaining and thought-provoking double-bill.
He began with Samuel Fuller's 1963 Shock Corridor, set in a mental hospital, as a project for the students of the National Theatre School in Strasbourg (TNS) and which has matured naturally over the past three years.
The same crew work with Bauer, and his accomplices/musicians Sylvain Cartigny and Joseph Dahan, on the second show, Western. It’s an almost word-for-word adaptation of the 1959 script for The Day of the Outlaw set in the 19th century. The music score changes somewhat.
Together, the André de Toth-inspired work and Shock Corridor span almost a century of American history. Bauer chose these films for their focus on certain American social and political issues which were red hot at the time, or are still burning and simmering today. The young French actors embrace aspects of the American “un-dream” with energy and imagination, and carry spectators away with them and their youthful enthusiasm.
La Nuit Américaine, Bauer's double-bill, is going on tour in France after their last night in Montreuil on 26 October 2018. At the time of writing neither play has subtitles.
Here are the dates so far:
9 November 2018 Scène nationale de Sète et du bassin de Thau
19 January 2019 Théâtre du Gymnase, Marseille
24 - 26 January 2019 Théâtre de La Croix-Rousse, Lyon
1 February 2019 Le Granit, Scène nationale, Belfort
12 & 13 March 2019 La Comédie de Clermont-Ferrand