French Moviegoers Come to Terms with Country’s Greatest Shame

Cet article a été publié dans FR2DAY en 2010 (this article was published in FR2DAY in 2010)


Newly released “La Rafle” (The Roundup) is making history by recounting one of the darkest events of France’s past; an event that the country tried for decades to forget and that marked the climax of the collaboration of the Vichy government with the German occupants. All people in the film, and all of the events, are based on true stories that director Roselyn Bosch gathered from people who survived the roundup.

One of these survivors is Nice resident, Anna Traube, who during an advanced screening at the Variétés last week recounted her ordeal.

Born in Lepizig to a Jewish-German dentist, Anna Traube was 20 years old when she was arrested in her family home during the July 16, 1942 raid in which French police – acting on instructions from the occupying Germans – began rounding up approximately 13,000 Jews in Paris and the nearby region. She was asked to take a blanket and enough food for two days.

Single people and couples without children went directly to the concentration camp of Drancy while the families were brought to the Vel d’Hiv where they stayed for six dreadful days before being sent to camps in the Loiret and later on to Auschwitz.

The Vel d’Hiv was an indoor cycling track located near the Eiffel Tower, which was used over the years for everything from bicycle races to boxing, circuses and concerts. According to some accounts, as many as 7,500 people were held there in scorching heat, with no lavatories, no place to sleep, very little water and almost no food.

68 years later Traube can still remember the awful smell, the cries of the babies, the children who played on the tracks, the hunger, the fear, the stretchers that carried the sick and the dead…

After 5 days, she knew she had to escape. Under false pretenses, she made her way to the Red Cross tent where a doctor told her to go see Gaston Roques, an engineer in charge of decontamination, who had already helped two other persons to escape.

Roques provided her with a false laissez-passer that bore a name that could not be more French, Yvette Baudoin. Traube tried to remain as calm as possible but when she passed through the second of the three mobile checkpoints that sealed the Vélodrome’s exit, she recognized among the three armed men, the guard who had propositioned with her just a few hours earlier. When Traube handed out her papers, she knew he had recognized her – in his eyes she saw a mixture of surprise and admiration – but after what seemed like an eternity, he let her go. Traube later found refuge with the Labattut family in Bois-Colombes.

Traube was not the only person who managed to escape thanks to the help of fellow Parisians. Before the roundup, a report from the “Renseignements Généraux”, the intelligence service of the French police, had stated that France was not anti-Semite enough to allow such an event to take place on its soil, which explains why nearly 11,000 out of the 24,000 Jews the Vichy government had planned to arrest, were saved, rescued or hidden by their countrymen. Still, 12,884 Jews were arrested in the roundup (4 051 children, 5 802 women and 3 031 men) and only 25 men came back from the death camps in Poland.

For decades the French government declined to apologize for the role of French policemen under the German occupation, but on 16 July 1995 President Chirac ruled it was time that France faced up to its past and acknowledged the role that the state had played in the persecution of Jews on its own territory.

Last weekend, Chirac wrote a column for the “Journal du Dimanche” in which he advised all French people to see the film, reminding everybody that “There is no great nation, no national cohesion, no possibility to take up world challenges, without memory.”



Cet article a été publié dans Riviera Buzz en 2012 (this article was published in Riviera Buzz in 2012)


Another possible French contender for an Oscar, ‘Rust and Bone’, directed by Jacques Audiard, was shot locally in Antibes.

Three years after taking home the runner-up Grand Prix for the gritty prison drama ‘A Prophet‘, French director Jacques Audiard won the Best Picture award at the London Film Festival last month with ‘De rouille et d’os‘ (‘Rust and Bone‘), a movie he shot late last year in Antibes.

Loosely based on a collection of short stories by Craig Davidson, Audiard’s new film centers around Ali (Belgian actor Matthias Schoenaerts), a single father who is struggling to make a living as a security guard, and Stéphanie (Oscar-winning actress Marion Cotillard), a trainer and performer at Marineland. At first, the two protagonists do not seem to have much in common, but months after their first encounter, with Stéphanie having both legs amputated following a terrible killer whale attack, she finds that the only person she can talk to is Ali.

Not everybody will connect with this miraculous friendship that turns into an absorbing love story. ‘Rust and Bone‘ alternates between depressing and uplifting moments, and does not hesitate to show the main character’s severed limbs, thanks to impressive special effects. But for those who do, they will be terribly moved by this raw, yet poetic, tale of survival and redemption against all odds, and will be deeply impressed by the performances of the two lead actors who bear it all, both physically and emotionally.

Appearing without makeup, Cotillard manages to portray a certain courageousness, yet sensuality at the same time. We watch her character move from a position of frailty to one of strength, with Cotillard delivering probably her best performance since ‘La Môme‘ (‘La vie en rose‘). As for Schoenaerts, previously seen in Bullhead, he is equally as measured and compelling as his famous costar.

Rust and Bone‘ is generating Oscar buzz for Cotillard as it makes the festival rounds. It has been released this month in the UK and the US, and is now available in France on DVD.


Cet article a été publié dans Riviera Buzz fin 2012 (this article was published in Riviera Buzz in late 2012)


If you are looking for something different to do of an evening out in Vieux Nice, why not try L’Effervescence, the city’s first Champagne bar?

Located on rue de la Loge, just a few blocks away from Place Rossetti and Place Saint-FrançoisL’Effervescenceis an ideal spot to enjoy an elegant and original break. Be warned though, this little establishment is easy to miss if you’re not paying attention!

Whether you sit upstairs at the bar or in the basement, the atmosphere is cozy and relaxed, a perfect combination for sipping a glass of sparkling wine with your friends or your nearest and dearest. No DJ’s or loud music on the program here, just a great selection of drinks and the knowledgeable advice of the owner.

The drinks list features prestigious champagnes such as Taittinger Brut Prestige Rosé for 84€ a bottle and Bollinger Special Cuvée for 155€ a bottle, as well as more affordable wines such as the Langlois Brut Rougefor 29€ a bottle or the Labrusco Rosé for 24€ a bottle. And if you are not in the mood for bubbly, the list also includes cocktails, red and wine wines, whiskies and fruit juices.

To better appreciate the experience, you will be able to nibble on gourmet tapas that range from foie gras, cheese, and oysters to prawns, salmon, and anchovies.

Champagne is a classy drink, usually saved for special occasions. Thanks to L’Effervescence, it now also offers a welcome escape from the hustle and bustle of Vieux Nice!

L’Effervescence Champagne Bar
10, rue de la Loge
06300 Nice

Tel: 04 93 80 87 37

Opening hours: Tuesday – Saturday, 6pm – 12:30am

image courtesy and © Mike Colquhoun


Cet article a été publié dans Riviera Buzz fin 2012 (this article was published in Riviera Buzz in late 2012)


Nice’s newest (or oldest) attraction has recently opened to the public, but you’ll have to go underground to see it!

This is a real treasure that lays six meters below Nice’s Place Garibaldi and Boulevard Jean Jaurès; 2,000 m2 of extremely well preserved ruins, which offers a fascinating glimpse into the rich and tumultuous developments of the city’s history.

Open to the public since the 10th of October, Nice’s Archaeological Crypt was discovered during the works on the first tramway line between Pont Michel and Las Planas. After years of excavations, it has been listed as a Historic Monument for its medieval and modern fortifications and is considered by many as the city’s “richest heritage site”, the only other equivalent in France being the crypt under the Louvre in Paris.

Tours are conducted by a qualified guide, usually in groups of about fifteen. Visitors access the site through a trap door located at Porte Pairolière. Then, prepare to be amazed! From a wholly intact pillar of the old Pairolière castlethat was built in the 14th century under the Counts of Provence, to sections of an aqueduct that conveyed water to the Sardinian Kings’ Palace, and from parts of medieval stone houses belonging to the Augustin family to a few remains of the bridge that led to Torino, the city reveals its hidden secrets.

Throughout there are several explanatory panels and touch screens informing the public as to the various types of masonry, with some parts of the site illuminated in different colors. There is definitely no need to be a history buff or an archaeological expert to appreciate this exceptional site!

Visits are organized on a daily basis at 10am, 11am, 3pm, 4pm and 5pm, with the exception of Tuesdays, when the crypt is closed. Reservation is mandatory. Tickets cost €5 (€2.50 for seniors, students and unemployed) and can only be bought from the Centre du Patrimoine, which is located at 75, Quai des États-Unis. Do note that these tickets are non-refundable and may not be exchanged.

La Crypte Archéologique
Place Jacques Toja
06300 Nice


Le Camp des Milles, a Unique Remembrance Site for Future Generations

Cet article a été publié dans FR2DAY en 2012 (this article was published in FR2DAY in 2012)

camp des milles

French Prime Minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault, is inaugurating today near Aix-en-Provence the “Camp des Milles Memorial”, an ambitious commemorative and educational project dedicated to the internments and deportations that took place during World War Two.

Opened in 1939 in a former tile factory in the little provencal village of Les Milles, the “Camp” was initially an internment camp for all the Austrian and German nationals living in the South of France who had fled the Reich after 1933. Following the French defeat in June 1940 however, it was turned into a transit station before becoming a Jewish deportation camp. In August and September 1942, around 2,500 Jewish men, women and children were deported to Auschwitz by the Vichy government.

In total, nearly 10,000 people from 27 different counties were incarcerated in the camp, among whom many politicians, literary figures (Fritz Brugel, Lion Feuchtwanger, William Herzog, Alfred Kantorowicz, Golo Mann, son of Thomas Mann…), scientists (Nobel prize-winner Otto Meyerhof…), musicians and painters (Erich Itor Kahn, Hans Bellmer, Max Ernst, Herman Henry Gowa, Gustave “Gus” Herlich, Max Lingner, Ferdinand Springer, Franz Meyer…). All those intellectuals and artists developed an active cultural life creating and leaving behind many works that can still be seen there.

Of the 200 internment, transit and deportation camps that once existed in France, the Camp des Milles is the only one that is still in good condition today. From now on, it should become an important memorial site whose main goal is to strengthen the visitors’ vigilance and responsibility, especially the young visitor, constantly faced with threats of racism, anti-semitism, fanaticism and totalitarianism.

The “Camp des Milles Memorial” is one of the flagship projects for the “Marseille-Provence, European Capital of Culture 2013” initiative, decided by the European Union and it is estimated that around 100,000 persons per year will visit this exceptional historical monument.

Upcoming movie director Destri Martino chats with FR2DAY

Cet article a été publié dans FR2DAY en 2012 (this article was published in FR2DAY in 2012)

Destri Martino

Each year, the Emerging Filmmaker Showcase held in The American Pavilion provides an opportunity for filmmakers to connect with the Cannes Film Festival and Marketplace attendees. A few weeks ago, we met with Destri Martino, a young filmmaker from Los Angeles whose short film, “The Director,” winner of American Cinematheque’s 2010 trailer contest, screened at this year’s competition.

Hello Destri, nice to meet you. Can you tell us a bit about yourself, your background?

I am a director. I have done a lot of shorts, live actions, animated shorts… I work at a law firm in downtown Los Angeles and I produce marketing, recruiting and training videos in-house.  I am always making stuff. It’s very good practice.

So you consider yourself a filmmaker?

I do consider myself a filmmaker because I have been making videos for a long time. I am lucky enough to have a day job that allows me to continue making stuff. I went to USC (University of Southern California) where my minor was in Cinema-TV. I also hold a master degree in Media & Communications from London School of Economics.

And The Director is your first movie?

No. Actually I have done a bunch of other shorts but it is my first animated shorts.

And what is it about?

It is about a woman director who decides to wear a dress to the set to make a statement.

Talking about women, what do you think of the fact that there are no female directors this year at the Cannes festival?

It is very disappointing because it is nice to have women to look up to. When it is all men it is hard to relate to someone. There are a lot of male directors that I respect a lot but it would be nice to see more women up there I could look up to.

Is Cannes the first film festival you have been to?

No. I have been to quite a few with this film, such as Newport Beach, Big Bear, LA Femme, DC  Shorts. I have gone to visit a variety of places in my own country and that has been fun. And then to get to travel to France is just amazing.

How was your movie picked?

There is this program on line called Withoutabox that makes it very easy to submit to festivals. The American Pavilion had their information up there and their contest was open so I just submitted my movie…and they picked me.

How many movies did they pick?

They picked a total of, I think, 16 or 15. They do emerging documentaries by emerging filmmakers, then they do narrative shorts by emerging filmmakers, that’s my category, and then they do the same with student films. I think there were only 4 or 5 people in my section and then they did pick winners out of that. I was considered a finalist.

And how many movies are they showing at the short film corner?

Someone has just told me that it was about 1,200 but I think it might be more than that. They have a lot of films in that short film corner.

Is the short film corner basically a way to make contacts and meet people?

Yes, and they do a great job at it. They have events, they have networking opportunities, they even do happy hours every day at 5 pm. I have only been to one so far but it was great because all the filmmakers go there and they meet. I wish I had gone to more but by the time you get out of the house and you try to get all your things done, you are really exhausted.

So what is your typical day here in Cannes?

Every day has been different. Trying to find food is always part of it [laughs]. I usually will go into the International village where all the pavilions are. At The American Pavilion I will check if there is anything going on. They hold a lot of panels and so does the UK Film Center. It is so much to take in that every day I feel like I have learned something new. For instance, I could have gone to the buyer’s corner and give my postcards out, that is what I have learned today.  But I cannot beat myself up, it is so big and there are so many places to take advantage of, so many opportunities…

In which way is the Cannes festival different from all the other film festivals you have attended?

It is just enormous so trying to get my head around it takes a long time. It is also a lot more glamorous. There are a lot more potential good contacts, all the top people in the film industry are here.

Have you managed to go to parties?

That has been the hardest part. I have been to one party but the great thing about Cannes is that you can go to the hotel bars, places like the Martinez or the Majestic, and people go there. It is not just lonely short filmmakers like myself, it is a lot of different people like execs, bankers, lawyers…All good people to meet.

Are they easy to talk to?

Oh yes. Everybody goes there to network. People are just mingling and it is a nice way to connect with people because it is a lot more social.

So would you say that the festival has met your expectations?

I don’t know what I was expecting actually so I think it has [laughs]. I just did not know what to expect. It is so big but it has been good. I have met a lot of interesting people.

Are you staying until the end of the festival?

Yes, I will be here until Tuesday ( the 29th of May). My mom came out yesterday (the 24th of May) so Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, we will probably visit the area a little. I have already been to this part of France before but I don’t know yet what we are going to do. We are hoping to get out of town but I am not a hundred percent sure of where we are going to go. I have just been running around so much, we might just end up on the beach out here because I am so exhausted.

Destri Martino is also the creator, director and co-author of MIXED BLOOMS, a comedy web series that follows florists Kim and Brian Fluge as they attempt to keep their little flower shop afloat while raising a curious teenager (Morgan). You can check it out at

Marseille’s Calanques Become France’s Latest National Park

Cet article a été publié dans FR2DAY en 2012 (this article was published in FR2DAY in 2012)


France now officially counts a new national park, the first one in  years, and it is located right in the heart of Provence. On Wednesday 18th of April, after years of debate, French Prime Minister, François Fillon, signed the decree authorizing the creation of France’s 10th national park, the Parc National des Calanques.

Stretching between Marseille and Cassis, the park covers 8,500 hectares of land and 43,500 ha. at sea, and is the only National Park in Europe to be at the same time continental,marine and periurban. It is home to around 30 long creekslined by high white cliffs, 90 archaeological sites, among them the famous Cosquer Cave, and to nearly 140 protected species of fauna and flora, including the country’s last surviving pair of Bonelli’s eagles.

Each year, the park attracts about 2 million visitors and the goal of the new status is to protect the beauty of the site for future generations and to encourage sustainable development. The “Calanques” will remain free of charge and “non-invasive activities” like hiking, biking and horseback riding will still be allowed.

However new restrictions will be set. On land for instance,visitor centres will be built at the main entry points to give information, hikers will have to follow marked paths and climbers will have to avoid sensitive zones. Meanwhile along the coast, fishing and deep-sea fishing will be forbidden in some areas, jet-skis will be banned and loud- speakers won’t be allowed in the creek areas.

There is litlle doubt that this new park will bring even more tourists to our region which also counts three other “Parcs Nationaux”: the Port-Cros National Park, in the east of Toulon, the Écrins National Park, in the north of Gap, and the Mercantour National Park in the north of Nice.

Celebrate the Magic of Christmas in Strasbourg

Cet article a été publié dans FR2DAY en 2011 (this article was published in FR2DAY in 2011)


Every year, Strasbourg, the capital of the Alsace region is lit up with lights and baubles in all imaginable colours to become a living example of the spirit of Christmas. 2011 is no exception. Perpetuating a tradition that dates back to 1570, the city is holding its famous Christmas market, the Christkindelsmärik, running until the end of December, in the pedestrians streets around its impressive cathedral.

The market, which is the oldest in France and one of the country’s largest, has not changed much from the one it was more than 400 years ago. It offers a large choice of Christmas trees – the region is where Christmas trees were first taken into people’s homes – as well as artisan products such as traditional and modern ornaments, wood carvings, garlands, tinsel, bells and toys. Of course, you will also find plenty to eat and drink.

While wandering amidst the stalls, you should definitely try the delicious vin chaud, the local spiced sausage, the sauerkraut, the foie gras, the eau de vie, the locally brewed beers and theBredele, a little delicious cookie traditionally prepared during the advent period.

The market is also filled with musicianslive concerts andspecial events. Meanwhile, nearby in La Petite France, a cozy neighbourhood of cobblestone streets, fine restaurants andmedieval buildings, the Christmas shops and the gingerbread bakery are always worth a detour.

In December, Strasbourg definitely has everything you need to make your holiday season just perfect; so if you are looking for a place to rekindle the magic of Christmas, don’t hesitate any longer and head straight to the North East of France.

This year’s Strasbourg market runs until the 31st of December, and is open from 10:00am to 8:00 pm daily, and until 9:00 pm on Friday and Saturday nights. The market is such a tradition that the city has created a special website dedicated to it called Strasbourg Capitale de Noël.

Image courtesy Strasbourg Capitale de Noël

The Great Fall of French Cinema

Cet article a été publié dans FR2DAY en 2011 (this article was published in FR2DAY in 2011)


It has been a great fall for French cinema. Of course everybody is talking about ‘The Artist’ which is being released in the US this month right on time for the Oscar race but three other films inspired by real-life stories have also created quite a buzz in recent months. It all started in September with the release of Valérie Donzelli’s ‘La guerre est declarée’ (Declaration of war), a moving story about a couple’s battle against their baby’s brain tumour.

The subject may sound heavy but the movie is never melodramatic and even provides a lot of funny moments. It follows the couple as they set up an organization and mobilize the troops to fight the enemy. From the beginning we know they will succeed and because it is based on the own real-life experiences of the two stars, Donzelli and ex-boyfriend Jérémie Elkaïm, the movie has an intensity that we usually do not find in a fictional story. The film will be France’s official submission to the Best Foreign Language Film category of the84th Academy Awards 2012.

The next movie, Polisse‘, is about the daily life of a police brigade dealing with the protection of young children. Shot in a documentary style, the winner of the Jury’s prize at this yearCannes Festival offers a realistic look at the terrible crimes a group of officers has to deal with and the impact they have ontheir personal lives.

Between fathers molesting their children and a motherdropping her baby on the pavement, there is no shortage of tragic scenes. Yet, somehow, director Maïwenn Le Besco, manages to make a film that is touching and emotional but also very entertaining and even hilarious at times. Not a small feat by any means!

Finally, the last movie, ‘Intouchables‘ is the surprise French box office hit of the year. Based on a true story, this caustic comedy centers on the relationship between a quadriplegic aristocrat and the young black man from Paris’ poor ghettoes he hires to take care of him. Avoiding all the clichés you might expect from this type of film, ‘Intouchables’ is a real feel good movie that is being hailed by many critics as the new ‘Amélie‘ or ‘Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis‘.


Menton Celebrates Multi-Talented Artist, Jean Cocteau, with Brand-New Museum

Cet article a été publié dans FR2DAY en 2011 (this article was published in FR2DAY in 2011)


It has been a long and rich love story between the city of Menton and poet, painter, film-maker and dramatist Jean Cocteau; a story that dates back to the 1950s when the artist was commissioned by the city to create a number of artworks, including the Salle des Mariages in the city hall. In recognition, the city adopted Cocteau as an honorary citizen. A few years later, the multi-talented artist designed his own museum in a small and abandoned fort, the “Bastion”, which he restored and decorated with mosaics and tapestries to house some of his own artworks. On the 6th of November, a new museum dedicated to the artist, the Jean Cocteau Museum – Séverin Wunderman Collection will open its doors in Menton’s old town.

Located in a striking building which evokes a labyrinth, the collection is made up of over 2,000 works, including 1,190 drawings, prints, paintings, ceramics, tapestries, jewellery, books and manuscripts by Cocteau himself. It also includes 172 photographs relating to Cocteau and 278 works by fellow artists such as PicassoModigliani and Di Chirico. Most of the collection was gathered by art lover, Séverin Wunderman, former owner of Swiss luxury watch brand Corum.

The goal of the museum is to present the different aspects ofJean Cocteau’s genius but also to show the man behind the myth. The works are therefore arranged based on seven specific themes that each corresponds to an important stage in the artist’s career: the topic “Blood of the Poet” for instance is connected with Cocteau’s most renowned literary works, such as “Les Enfants Terribles” and “La Machine Infernale“, while another one “Mysteries” features the poetry and films Cocteau created post-WWII, such as “La Belle et la Bête“.

Moreover, since Cocteau is considered to be one of the fathers of contemporary art, temporary exhibitions will highlight current contemporary artists. The first one to be honoured isBordeaux based artistJean Sabrier, who gives new perspectives to paintings through art history. This exhibition runs until 7th May 2012.

The space also includes an educational workshop areaintended for school groups, an appointment-only print roomfeaturing additional works from the collection, a documentation center, an indoor and outdoor café, and a gift shop.

This new museum, which is the largest collection in the world of works by Cocteau, is expected to draw 100,000 visitors a year. That should definitely be enough to put Menton on the cultural map, in a region that already is home to many great modern art museums.