After a decade, this celebration of French culture has blossomed into something even more significant.
As the 10th edition of La Fete approaches, it’s illuminating to chart the changes undergone by this vibrant Bangkok-based celebration of French culture. In the beginning, it was a committed Francophile’s dream, the emphasis well and truly on flying the tricolour high and proud. Increasingly, though, a spirit of cooperation and cultural exchange has been fostered, to the point where much of La Fete has taken on a Franco-Thai flavour. If local talent doesn’t quite receive equal billing as the French imports, they are, at least, a close second.
“In the beginning it was really only French artists and French performers but we’ve tried to change that a little bit,” Jeremy Opritesco, head of the cultural section at Thailand’s French Embassy, explains.
“We’ve listen to the public and other feedback and tried to include as many co-operative projects between Thais and French performers as possible. When it’s not possible – because sometimes it just doesn’t happen – we try to hold masterclasses and events where there can be some participation or that work as a kind of cultural exchange.”
There has also, according to Opritesco, been a discernible shift away from the highest of high art to more accessible fare. “We’ve tried to have fewer purely conceptual events,” he says. “French culture has a bit of a reputation for being like that so we’ve tried to adapt and make it more open to more people. If you take the Pockemon Crew, for example, they are one of the best hip hop dance companies in the world.
“So it’s very high quality but it is also very spectacular and accessible for everyone.” There are plenty of other highlights at La Fete, taking in dance, visual arts and music. On is the Galleries Night on July 5. Taking inspiration from the kind of late-night cultural fairs that so enrich Paris, several of Bangkok’s most notable contemporary galleries will throw open their doors in the evening, hopefully attracting a wave of new fans.
“The Galleries Night will be another big highlight,” Opritesco says. “Last year we had a lot of success with it so we wanted it to do it a second time.
“It is a chance for us to show off contemporary art in Bangkok and there will be cocktail bars and concerts at the different galleries to create a nice atmosphere.” So as La Fete celebrates its 10th birthday, it’s clear that it has grown from a cosy celebration of French culture to a more inclusive, cosmopolitan affair. But of course, what would it be without a certain French je ne sais quoi? “The other big change this year is that we are staging half of the shows at the Alliance Francaise,” Opritesco says. “Because we have a fantastic new building and want to show that to people.”
La Fete highlights
Parisii String Quartet
June 4 at Alliance Française Bangkok
The Parisii String Quartet, one of the most famous and prestigious string quartets in the world, will offer a large selection of classical music covering several eras and musical styles: Boccherini, Haydn, Schumann, Debussy and Schubert.
Fête de la Musique (Music Festival)
June 6 at ZEN World (17th floor)
For one dazzling evening, La Fête de la Musique brings together Thai bands and the French duo Systaime/ Kantes, an explosive and corrosive VJ and DJ mix, combining electronic music and live video projections.
June 11 at Faculty of Arts, Chulalongkorn University
The French dance company A.lter S.essio joins the talented and creative Thai choreographer Pichet Klunchun. Loss, first performed as a solo by the Japanese dancer Yum Keiko Takayama, has been fully re-choreographed in co-operation with Pichet Klunchun during a residency.
Hi-So Full Moon Party
June 12 at Sofitel So Bangkok
A new line-up of DJs from Bangkok’s top clubs, including DJ Space Monkey , DJ Skinny Mark and percussionist Num T-Bone, will take you on a musical journey.
Notte (The Night)
June 13 at Chulalongkorn University
Magic, dance, juggling, music and video effects are the ingredients for this soothing, hypnotic and poetic show. All aboard for an unreal journey.
Hip Hop Battle
June 15 at Alliance française Bangkok
La Fête’s hip-hop battle is now one of the most awaited cornerstones of the festival, gathering dancers from all around the country to battle in a festive atmosphere.
June 18 at Aksra Theatre King Power
Pockemon Crew’s new dance show is a journey through the cinema of the 1930s and 1940s. Through a succession of sets, sceneries and costumes, we are constantly reminded of cinema’s Golden Age.
Science/Fiction: Journey To The Centre Of Life
June 22 at TK Park in CentralWorld
Mysterious mazes, brilliant gems, obscure caves and encrypted alphabets. Where do these enigmatic images come from? From the core of life itself, observed on a microscopic scale and from the works of the most visionary French writer Jules Verne.
July 5 starting at Alliance Française Bangkok The second edition of Galleries Night will take place across several venues. Cocktails and exhibition openings will punctuate an art tour through Bangkok’s emerging creative scene.
June 23-24 at Alliance Française Bangkok
A result of a two-year co-operation between the French company Les Rémouleurs and Chiang Mai puppet masters, this show combines Thai and French traditions, contemporary creation and interplay of light and shadows.