After a year of virtual fêtes, FIAF’s famed NYC Bastille Day celebration returns to the city, at Central Park’s SummerStage!
After a week of cloudy, rainy weather, the sunshine smiled down upon the NYC French community this past Wednesday – Bastille Day, as they gathered in Central Park east for an evening of cultural music and film. Bastille Day is France’s National Day, marking the day that the Bastille, a fortress of political prisoners, was stormed, and the French Revolution commenced. While the background of the holiday is an important piece of history, today it symbolizes unity among the French people. As there are many that call New York City their home, this event honored their country with an opening address from the Consul General of France, the National Anthems of France and the United States performed together, a Jazz rendition of famous French songs, a DJ set of French House music, and a film screening to close out the night.
Marie Viapiano beautifully belted out the French national anthem, followed by the American national anthem, supported by Les Cadets Lafayette Fanfare and conducted by Jacques LeTalon. The audience, once gathered in the SummerStage venue and settled into their seats for the evening program, let the music fill their ears and the patriotic spirit fill the air. After the National Anthems, the band played some classic French tunes and were later joined by Vocalist Kavita Shah, who performed Édith Piaf and more. Once her performance concluded, DJ Joachim Garraud played a mix of French House or ‘French Touch’ music to a background video montage of French classic films and the vast, varied French landscape. The audience danced to the beat and waved mini French flags, bringing the lively fête atmosphere to the night.
Finally as the sun went down and the fireflies began to light the air, the audience was treated to a screening of the hilarious, heart-warming film Antoinette dans les Cévennes (My Donkey, My Lover, & I). The film is set in the Cévennes mountain range, a popular destination in France for trekking and other outdoor activities. Antoinette, a schoolteacher in love with one of her students’ fathers, follows them on their family hiking trip during a holiday, hoping to run into her lover. A city girl from Paris, Antoinette has some troubles adjusting to life on the trail, with a donkey to carry her belongings as her only companion. She gets into trouble and makes friends along the way, and finally finds her lover and his family at one of the rest stops – but what ensues is not exactly what she expected. The movie was the perfect way to finish up the evening.
FIAF’s Bastille Day was a memorable celebration of French culture, and a wonderful outdoor gathering. We can’t wait for next year’s event!