The Korea Herald


French Cultural Center brings Cannes to Seoul

By Korea Herald

Published : Feb. 5, 2012 - 20:20

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New director wants to see greater links between Korean, French cinemas

This is the first of the series introducing cultural centers of different countries in Seoul. ― Ed.

Movie fans will be delighted to hear about the French Cultural Center’s latest ambitious project: to bring Cannes Film Festival to Seoul.

“We are thinking about screening all of the award-winning films in Korea for a period of over a week. They have never done such a project outside of Cannes and there will be a lot of constraints with film rights. We are negotiating with the Cannes people,” said Daniel Ollivier, director of the center. 
A view of the French Cultural Center’s library. (Kim Myung-sub/The Korea Herald) A view of the French Cultural Center’s library. (Kim Myung-sub/The Korea Herald)

The French were the first to come out to defend their cinema from the flood of Hollywood movies, explained Ollivier, blocking some releases. As a result, French movies take up about 50 percent of the market in France. Ollivier said that there is one country which does the same ― Korea.

“We are doing this because Korea is not any country but (one) where local cinema is also very important. At Busan there is the biggest Asian festival for films, and another big festival for that in Europe is in Cannes. So we are trying to create links between Korean cinemas and French cinemas,” he said, hinting that the event may take place here in December.

For anyone with even the slightest interest in French culture, the French Cultural Center in Bonglai-dong, central Seoul, is a utopia.

Stocked with over 10,000 books, 60 periodicals, 2,600 DVDs and 1,500 CDs, the library is open to anyone. It recently opened a digital service through which subscribers have a choice of 25,000 books, 450 magazines and 230 DVDs through their IT gadgets.

Caf des Arts, the French restaurant situated right across from the library, has been refurbished and will open on Wednesday. With Korean and French artwork on the walls, visitors will be able to enjoy authentic French cuisine cooked by the chef of Le Saint-Ex, a successful French restaurant in Itaewon.

The center also supports cooperation between France and Korea in many fields including scientific research, aids Korean students seeking to study in France and promotes French art by supporting various events, exhibitions and shows such as Cine France, a weekly film screening program.

New at his post, Ollivier noted that among the many Asian countries he has been to, Koreans’ openness toward foreign culture is exceptional.

“In the past three months I’ve been here, I’ve seen so many foreign companies perform in theaters and show in exhibitions. Not very many foreigners are living in Korea but despite that Koreans are very open to foreign cultures. It is amazing,” he said. 
Daniel Ollivier, director of French Cultural Center. (Kim Myung-sub/The Korea Herald) Daniel Ollivier, director of French Cultural Center. (Kim Myung-sub/The Korea Herald)

Some of the major cultural events planned by CCF to prompt even more interest from Koreans include the blockbuster exhibition “Myths and Legends” featuring collections from the Louvre Museum to be held at Seoul Arts Center in June; Peter Brook’s version of “A Magic Flute” in LG Art Center in March; and the contemporary dance festival “France Danse 2012” in April through June throughout Seoul.

Nine renowned French contemporary dance companies such as Ballet Preljocaj and Companie Kafig will stage about 20 shows during the period, some in collaboration with Korean teams. As a sidebar program, a hundred French films about dance will be screened non-stop for two to three days at Culture Station Seoul 284.

In the long term, the center is organizing a large-scale cultural exchange period between the two countries which will fall in 2015 and 2016.

“For six months from September 2015 it will be the Korean season in France, which will include various art exhibitions and shows held in cooperation with the national museum, ballet and opera. Then, for the next six months, it will be the French season in Korea. We will be working with French museums and provinces which are interested to be hosting things in Korea,” said Ollivier.

For more information about the center, visit

By Park Min-young (