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The Lookout: Francophonie Festival

The Lookout gives you a heads-up on the best events taking place around town. Here we list the best parts of a celebration of French-speaking countries.

March is the month of the Francophonie festival, a celebration of French-speaking countries around the world through films, art exhibits, concerts, and more. Forty-eight embassies are participating—from France, Canada, and Belgium to Vietnam, Senegal, and Mauritania. It’s a chance to learn more about countries with fascinating cultures—and maybe drink some nice wine at the same time. Most events are translated or include English subtitles. Some have already made our listing of top embassy events, including the seminar on Gross National Happiness and the culmination of this festival—La Grande Fete de la Francophonie.

Film tickets are $13; other prices vary.  Visit the Francophonie site for tickets and more details. 

Events are listed below.

Trio Panamanouche (France)
March 8, 7:30 pm
$15
La Maison Française, 4101 Reservoir Rd., NW

This event is described as the “musical flowering of a typical Parisian way of life.” Paname is a slang term for Paris that refers to an idealized capital city of yesteryear; manouche means gypsy. Gypsy jazz with a taste of the classiest of cities? With guitar, accordion, violin, and double bass? Intriguing.

Delwende (Burkina Faso)
March 13, 7 pm
Hirshhorn Museum, Seventh St. and Independence Ave., SW

In rural parts of Burkina Faso, women are blamed for unexplained deaths. They are seen as witches of a sort and become scapegoats of the society. This film from that country sheds light on women’s rights around the world as well as here in the United States.

Les Nubians (Cameroon)
March 29 and 30, 7:30 pm
$25 for Smithsonian Associates members; $30 nonmembers
Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, Tenth St. and Constitution Ave., NW

If you’ve watched VH1 Soul, you may have seen this R&B sister duet. Paris natives with a French father and Cameroonian mother, they incorporate African and European beats into their funky music. Their album Princesses Nubiennes won a Soul Train Award, and they were nominated for a Grammy Award in 2004.

Paris in Transition” 
Through May 16
National Gallery of Art, Fourth St. and Constitution Ave., NW

This isn’t officially a part of the festival, but what better way to celebrate the French than with photos of the City of Light? The images stretch from the 1840s to the 1920s—not only the golden age of French photography but also the heyday of the city’s most magical images. Paris in black and white is always a sight to see.

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