"Hong Kong Is a Big Stage"

"In Hong Kong, I can have the opportunities of meeting with and enjoying the best of the eastern and western culture," Director of Alliance Francaise (AF) Hong Kong Claire Berger-Vachon said to Xinhua.

"That was the reason why I asked to work in AF's Hong Kong office," she said. Before asking to transfer to Hong Kong for another four-year term in 1999, Claire had worked in AF's Seoul office.

"Hong Kong is one of the best cities in Asia where the east meets the west. It is very dynamic and glamorous," she said, adding that "Hong Kong is really a big stage."

Responsible for managing the French language and culture center's daily operation in Hong Kong, Claire performed a lot on this "big stage".

Apart from providing French courses, AF organizes quite cultural activities by itself or with the collaboration of local cultural organizations every year.

The "French Cinepanorama" and "French May" have been two fixed arts festivals with great popularity in Hong Kong.

The annual "French Cinepanorama" which features a series of famous French films has been held in Hong Kong for almost 25 years while the "French May" which invites many French artists and their works to Hong Kong just celebrated its 10th anniversary this year.

In local arts festivals such as the Hong Kong Arts Festival and the Hong Kong Youth Arts Festival, works of French artists will always be those not-to-be-missed ones.

The director said she was glad to see that French culture has a strong presence in Hong Kong and was appreciated and understood by people here.

She also expressed her belief that the cultural exchanges between Hong Kong and French would be deepened and widened in the future.

"You know, this colorful and dynamic city has the energy to attract artists from the west, while at the same time we French like to enjoy the Chinese culture too," she said.

Claire said that AF has put more emphasis on encouraging cooperation between French artists and their Chinese counterparts in recent years. "So in this year's 'French May', we invited quite a few Chinese artists from Hong Kong and the Mainland," she added.

The director also spoke highly of Hong Kong's cultural environment. "Hong Kong has excellent arts groups, very creative artists and world-class cultural venues," she said, adding that the presence of such Venues as Hong Kong Cultural Center, Arts Museum and City Hall makes the city more attractive.

In addition, she mentioned the Cattle Depot Artists' Village in Hong Kong which was set up in year 2001 with the support of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government.

"The village gives artists another kind of space other than the traditional museums and cultural centers to carry out their artistic work. The government did a great job," she said.

She added that AF also chose the artists' village as the venue to hold an exhibition called "Paintings-Figures-Paintings" during the "French May 2002". The exhibition displayed about 80 pieces of portraits by young French artists.

Speaking about herself, Claire said her most favorite art forms are music and visual arts. "I can enjoy music performances by excellent musicians from local community, the mainland and the west here, "she said.

"I like the Hong Kong films very much too, especially works by Wang Jiawei and Chen Guo," she said, "The Hong Kong films are very popular in France."

Claire lives in the mid-levels and what she likes doing after work is overlooking the Victorian Bay. She said, "The architectures along the both sides of the Victorian Bay is magnificent."

"The mix of architectural styles of east and west, classic and modern is the best embodiment of this great cosmopolitan," she said.

(Xinhua News Agency June 12, 2002)

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