Photo of the Week


Humor on the hoardings spotted before the first round of the French elections: “John Goodman (Jean Gentilhomme) for President,” the candidate of the “Nice Peoples' Party. That would make a change. © Paris Update












Paris Update What’s On

Links to events happening this week in Paris.

Silent films from Switzerland?


> They’re rare, but they do exist and can be seen at the Fondation Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé, Paris, through May 2.

Retail heaven
> You can buy just about anything at the century-old Foire de Paris, a gigantic pop-up store. Porte de Versailles, Paris. April 27-May 8.

Voices from the North
> The Pølar Festival celebrates Northern European culture with films, concerts, talks and more. Various locations, Paris, through April 29.

Photo walk
> Eight Paris galleries hold special photography shows and events for Parcours Fotofever. Various locations, Paris, through May 1.

Photo shows galore
> Le Mois de la Photo has been moved from autumn to spring, with 96 exhibitions taking place all over the greater Paris area. See Web site for locations and dates.

Art videos
> The theme of this year’s Videobox Festival is “noise and movement.” Carreau du Temple, Paris, April 27-29.

French film with English subtitles
> Lost in Frenchlation shows Nicolas Boukhrief’s La Confession, preceded by a themed cocktail party (€4.50). Studio 28, Paris, April 28.

Virtual reality
> Drop in on Saturday or Sunday from 2pm to 8pm for a free virtual trip at the VR Express festival. Forum des Images, Paris, through June 30.

Dance in historic sites
> Monuments en Mouvement offers free dance performances in national monuments like the Pantheon in Paris, the Abbaye de Cluny and châteaux. Various locations, through Oct. 21.

African culture festival
> The 100% Afriques festival showcases dance, theater, music, fashion, design, art, food and more from all over the continent. La Villette, Paris, through May 28.


Hot Topics - C'est ironique !


Fête de l'Humanité

fête de l'humanité

A sea of humanity at last year's Fête de l'Humanité.

Yes, there is still a Communist Party in France. It’s called the PCF, and any one of its members will be happy to explain to you their really, really, really, really, really, really, indisputably good reason why if they came to power the country wouldn’t decline into famine, failure and/or violence like every single other communist regime in the history of humanity. And there’s no better place to hear all about it than the festival of humanity: La Fête de l’Humanité, the PCF’s annual rally and fair, September 10-12 at the Parc Departemental de la Courneuve.

Politics aside, I highly recommend the “Fête de l’Huma,” as it is called, simply because it’s fun and interesting. There are lots of activities, plenty of good cheap food and drink, and a genuinely impressive lineup of 86 concerts at no extra charge (it’s €25 for all three days, €19 if you buy in advance). This year’s headliners include Madness, Simple Minds and French pop legend Jacques Dutronc. Also, every sizable party group in France sets up a stand, offering an exhibition, prize raffle, coffee bar, snack bar, bar bar or some other kind of attraction.

The last time I went was actually 20 years ago. The 1990 F d’H was the first one after the fall of the Berlin Wall, and I was with a bunch of other journalists who wanted to hear the keynote address by Georges Marchais, longtime head of the PCF, just to see what he could possibly have to say. The answer turned out to be: a lot. I don’t remember a word of his speech, but I do remember a very telling, and perhaps prophetic, image.

At about noon, while wandering among the stands, I noticed that the Communist Party of Clermont-Ferrand (France’s equivalent of Akron, Ohio) had a huge tent set up with about two hundred folding chairs facing a long table on a dais. A sign outside proclaimed, “At 3:00 PM Today! Crucial Panel Discussion! All the Top Officers of the Clermont-Ferrand Communist Party On Stage! Their Topic: ‘Communism: Which Way Forward?’ Don’t Miss It!” I remember thinking, “Oh yeah, that’ll really pack ’em in.”

Time went by. I had lunch at the Cuban stand and browsed the books on sale at the North Korean booth (there’s a “Village du Monde” international section — don’t miss it), and, by chance, at about 3:10 I happened to walk past the Clermont-Ferrand tent again. As promised, the Crucial Panel Discussion was underway. Up on stage were five or six people, declaiming into microphones and looking exceedingly self-conscious. Here’s why: in the two-hundred-odd folding chairs in front of them was, I swear, one guy. And he was asleep. And I don’t mean nodding off once in a while and then jerking back awake. I mean sprawled in the chair with all four limbs splayed out, head thrust back and mouth gaping open as wide as any sword swallower’s. You could have given him a root canal.

And on they talked, the Top Officers of the Clermont-Ferrand Communist Party.

So I strongly recommend attending the Fête this year. See if that guy’s still there. And for God’s sake, wake him up.

David Jaggard

Fête de l’Humanité: Parc Départemental de la Corneuve. Métro: La Courneuve 8 Mai 1945, then shuttle bus. RER B: Le Bourget, then shuttle bus. T1 tram: La Courneuve 8 Mai 1945, then shuttle bus. September 10-12. Friday, 2pm-12:30am; Saturday, 8am-12:30am, Sunday, 8am-9pm. Village du Monde. Concert program

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