MID WEEK ARTS: German, French embassies cement bond through film show

German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer

German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer

German and French Embassies in Nigeria recently collaborated in a film show to mark the 52nd anniversary of Franco-German Youth Office. Titled French For Beginners, the 98-minute film show at Thought Pyramid Art Centre, attracted Nigerians as well as members of the diplomatic community.

Recall that the foundation for the Franco-German Youth Office (FGYO) was laid by the then German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer and his French counterpart Charles de Gaulle with the Elysée Treaty on January 22, 1963. On July 5 of the same year, an organization for the promotion of relations between German and French youths was established.

While speaking further on the relationship between the two countries, German Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Michael Zenner, said the Franco-German Youth Office has been in the service of Franco-German cooperation and has the task to intensify relations between young people in Germany and France.

According to Zenner, the organization was also aimed at deepening mutual understanding as well as promoting cultural exchange among youths of both countries.

Other responsibilities include enhancing relationship between children, adolescents and young adults, conveying the culture of the partner, promoting intercultural learning, assisting in the professional qualifications as well as strengthening joint projects for civic engagement, being aware of the special responsibility of Germany and France in Europe.

Zenner also added that since the establishment of the organization, it has enabled 8.2 million young Germans and Frenchmen to participate in exchange programmes.

“The FGYO promotes each year an average of about 9,000 meetings (more than 5,300 group exchange programmes and about 3,700 individual exchange programmes”, the envoy said.

Also, French Ambassador to Nigeria, Denys Gauer, said the relationship was an effort that came into being after World War II to overcome a conflict that led the two countries into three wars in less than a century.

He, however, said the friendship is not limited to France and Germany, but that their host country Nigeria also stood to benefit immensely from French-German friendship.

According to Gauer, “In the field of cooperation, it is mainly through the common financing of programmes to assist the displaced populations in North-East. Closer to the field that brings us together to the Thought Pyramid Art Centre, which is culture, let us remember that a few days ago, a youth training project about DJ music ended in Abuja, funded in part by the French-German Cultural Fund.

“Tonight, it is with a movie that we are part of this long tradition. With a comedy of Christian Ditter that precisely addresses the exchanges between students”.

The movie, French For Beginners tells the story of a German student, Henrik, who takes part in a student exchange programme in France. Although he sees both the French language and people unfriendly, he endures all the challenges, having engaged in a love relationship with a French young lady.

The film explores several themes including that of mundane love intrigues, trust, betrayal, romance and perhaps, youthful exuberance. It also highlights the general lifestyle of an average French family with regards to their relationship with strangers, their food and music.

Except the intimate love he shares with his girl, Henrick finds every other thing absurd during the exchange programme, sometimes, suffering humiliation from friends and colleagues.

The film was written and directed by Christian Ditter, a German, who participated in a French-German student exchange programme in France at the age of 16.

Cultural Attache, German Embassy, Kornelia Bitzer-Zenner,” Ditter knows what he is talking about. At the age of 16, he took part in a French-German student exchange in France and he turned his own experiences into a movie”.

She further described the movie as a refreshing feel-good film about friendship, first love and jealousy and about a French-German student exchange programme, the Franco German Youth Office founded to foster the relations and friendship between France and Germany.

She added, “Thanks to this programme, which had its 50th anniversary two years ago, more than eight million young French and German students have had the opportunity of visiting their neighbouring country.

“The movie is filled with a mixture of culture clash and love story. In addition to the mix of emotions, especially the one or other amusing sideswipe at German and French clichés should create a good mood”.

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