A host of classic and modern films, music and art events will take place across Doha this week to celebrate the language, heritage and culture of French-speaking countries throughout the world as part of La Francophonie Week.
More than a dozen concerts, movie screenings and cultural events will be performed at Katara Cultural Village and Qatar National Theater, led by Qatar’s Ministry of Culture, Arts and Heritage and the French Institute of Qatar as well as embassies from France, Belgium, Canada, Chad, Lebanon, Greece, Senegal and Switzerland.
In the second annual festival of its kind – which runs until March 27 – the celebration opened last night with a concert by Qatar’s first children’s choir Siwar at Katara Opera House, followed by renowned Senegalese musician Ismael Lo. There was also a performance of the French translation of some of the works of Qatari poet Moubarak ben Saif Al Thani.
There are more than 200,000 French-speaking people in Qatar, with nearly 300 million people worldwide speaking the language. By 2050, this number is expected to rise to 750 million people, according to the French Embassy in Qatar.
“For us, Francophonie is not just speaking French. We are in favor of diversity of languages and cultures with mutual respect.
The more people speak languages, the more they are open to the world … This week is not only for French-speaking people. Music, for example, speaks for everybody. We hope that we will not have only French speakers but also people who would like to enjoy Francophone Culture,” the French ambassador to Qatar, Eric Chevallier, said in a statement to Doha News.
Qatar has been an associate member of the International organization of Francophonie (OIF – Organisation internationale de la Francophonie) since 2012.
Its connections with French-speaking countries and France in particular have been developed recently with a number of strategic investments in key French institutions.
Tonight, there are two concerts at Katara. From 6pm at the Drama Theater (building 16), French performer Mario Stasi, musical director Roland Romanelli and musicians give their interpretation on clasic pieces from France and Francophone countries.
This is followed at 8:30pm at Katara Opera House with a performance by L’Orchestre National de Barbes. Since 1996, this group of musicians from North Africa, Portugal, and France have played their French-Magreb sound at more than 1,000 concerts around the world, including Central Park in New York, the World Cup final in France in 1998, a fortress in Le Caire, and the Bal de la Rose in Monaco.
Other highlights during the week include a piano recital at Qatar National Theater by Belgium’s Olivier de Spiegeleir, a performance at Qatar Music Academy of the history of the famous children’s book Babar le petit elephant by French composer Francis Poulenc.
Doha Film Institute is also participating, with a series of film screenings for adults and children of contemporary cinema from the French-speaking world.
The festival concludes on March 27 with a showing of the Jack and the Cuckoo-clock heart, an animated feature film set in 19th Century Edinburgh which is based on the concept album by the French rock band Dionysos, and on the illustrated novel La Mécanique du cœur.
Qatar’s Minister of Culture, Arts and Heritage Dr Hamad bin Abdulaziz al-Kuwari said in a statement:
“Francophonie Week is an opportunity for different countries with different cultures to gather under the banner of the Francophonie and to share their varied heritage. This is a demonstration of an objective of the Francophonie to promote enrichment and communication between peoples and countries.”
Entrance to all events during Francophonie Week is free, and there is a detailed program on the website.
Do you plan to attend? Thoughts?