Over 175 million people speak French in over fifty different countries around the world. The Consulate General of Canada in Chicago proudly took centre stage at the 2012 Festival de la Francophonie, organized by the Alliance Française of Chicago (www.af-chicago.org).
In partnership with the Québec Government Office in Chicago, three public events showcased Canada's bilingual and multicultural character, cultural and culinary products and leadership in la Francophonie.
The annual Festival brought together the government offices of Belgium, Canada, France, the Province of Québec, Romania, Switzerland and community organizations representing Haiti and Vietnam, to host a month of events featuring food, music and culture from each country or region. To kick off the celebration, the partner organizations held a Soirée Commune with each country offering food and drink from their homeland.
"Passports" were given to guests, encouraging them to visit each country's room and promoting the full schedule of events during the month. This sold-out evening was attended by several hundred people representing Chicago's francophone community and invited VIP guests by the participating consulates. The Consulate General of Canada and the Québec office served traditional Montreal smoked meat sandwiches and a wide variety of Québec cheeses to a very appreciative audience.
The Consulate General and the Québec office screened the 2010 film JO POUR JONATHAN. Consul Brian Herman welcomed the guests to the event, noting the importance of filmmaking to Canada and our ongoing appreciation for the month-long celebration of La Francophonie. Director Maxime Giroux was in attendance and provided wonderful insight into his film.
To top off Canada’s participation in the Festival, a theatrical performance of "Celles d'en Haut/The Women from on High" was staged. The unique collaborative event, with additional support from the Wallonia (Belgium) Trade and Investment Office in Chicago, featured Chicago-based actress Barbara Robertson, Park Krausen and Carolyn Cook from Le Théatre du Reve in Atlanta, and Kevin McCoy, director of Théatre Humain in Québec. The play was written by Olivier Kemeid from Québec and directed by Olivier Coyette from Belgium. The non-traditional location of the salon of the Alliance Française of Chicago and unique set-up of the space let attendees know immediately that they were in for an unusual and tantalizing treat.
The capacity crowd savoured each nuance of the high drama, which was conducted alternately in French and English. Fortunately, for those who missed the performance, a full staging in Chicago is scheduled for next year.