Canadian ‘Immortal’ joins French language police

The famous guardians of the French language, the Académie Française, elected its first ever Canadian to join its "immortals" on Thursday. It follows the nomination of a British academic earlier this year. A French teen was also in the running, but missed out.

Canadian 'Immortal' joins French language police
Haitian-born writer Dany Laferriere has become the first Canadian elected to France's Académie Française. Photo: Bertrand Langlois/AFP

Haitian-born writer Dany Laferriere has become the first Canadian elected to France's Académie Française, the nation's pre-eminent body on the French language, it said on Thursday.

Laferriere, a 60-year-old novelist and essayist based mainly in Montreal, was elected to replace Argentine-born author Hector Bianciotti, who died in June 2012.

Founded by Cardinal Richelieu in 1635, the academy is tasked with maintaining the purity of the French language and publishes an official dictionary.

Members are elected for life and known as "immortals".

Born in Haiti in 1953, Laferriere has written more than 15 novels, many of them autobiographical

He won the prestigious Prix Medicis in 2009 for his novel "L'enigme du retour", an account of a return trip to Haiti after the death of his father.

His first novel in 1985, "Comment faire l'amour avec un negre sans se fatiguer" (How to Make Love to a Negro Without Getting Tired), was turned into a film for which he wrote the screenplay.

The academy's statutes do not contain any restrictions relating to the nationality of its members.

In February, British academic, poet and literary critic Michael Edwards, 74, became the first Briton elected to the body.

Arthur Pauly, a 15-year-old French schoolboy, was one of six candidates vying for the seat of former Académie member Hector Bianciotti, who died in June 2012. 

Although the Académie are used to receiving all kind of applications, they were surprised this year when they received an application from teenager Arthur Pauly. 

“Imagine if I get elected after making such a big effort. I would become Immortal at the age of 15. Wouldn’t that be wonderful?” the young hopeful was quoted as saying in his application letter.

Although the Académie has set an upward age limit of 75 for its members, there is currently no minimum age, meaning that the position is technically open to minors. 

Sadly for Pauly he missed out, but on a positive note he has plenty of time left to fulill his ambition to become immortal.

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Screenings of French films with English subtitles in July 2022

Paris-based cinema club Lost in Frenchlation is showing two French films with English subtitles this month before taking a well-earned summer break. Here's what's coming up.

Screenings of French films with English subtitles in July 2022

Two events in July are hosted by Lost in Frenchlation, a Paris-based cinema club that offers English speakers who may not be fluent in French the chance to enjoy French films, by screening new releases with English subtitles to help viewers follow the story.

The club has organised two screenings this month – one of them followed by a Q&A with the director, while the other is preceded by a stand-up show – before it takes a well-earned break ready to return in September.

Here are the films you can catch this month.

Friday, July 8th, 7pm

Les Goûts et les couleurs (Not My Type)

Rebecca Marder heads the cast of Michel Leclerc’s smart drama about a talented singer whose dream of recording an album with a 1970s rock icon (a heavily made-up Judith Chemla) threatens to turn sour when the old musician defies phrase and fable and actually dies. 

Her efforts to persuade the old rocker’s closest living relative (Félix Moati) to allow her release the record are complicated by the fact he likes neither his famous kin or her music.

The screening at Club de L’Etoile cinema, on Rue Troyon, will be followed by a Q&A with director Leclerc.

Tickets  (€10, €8 for concessions) are available here

Friday, July 15th, 7pm

Irréductible (Employee of the Month)

Office politics go bad when zealous ministerial inspector Pascale Arbillot reckons without peaceful civil service worker Jérôme Commandeur (who also directs) in this laugh-out-loud comedy. 

Her job is to cut waste and costs; his is to enjoy as quiet and comfortable a career as possible. Unable to get him to leave his ‘job for life’, she transfers him to some of the least hospitable places on Earth she can find… Chaos, as the best movie billings should say, ensues.

The film, at cinéma L’Arlequin, will be preceded by a stand-up show and the chance to enjoy a cocktail or two.

Tickets (€15, €13 for concessions) to the screening and the comedy show are available here