Voilah! France Singapore Festival
|Voilah! France Singapore Festival|
|Genre||Culture, Education, Science, Lifestyle, Tourism and Sports|
|Dates||October to November|
Voilah! France Singapore Festival is a festival that showcases collaborations between France and Singapore. Held across six weeks on an annual basis, it showcases French innovation within the realms of culture, education, science, lifestyle, tourism and sport... Multifarious programmes ranging from film screenings to science exhibitions to concerts to gastronomy workshops among others. The programmes serve as catalysts for cross-cultural exchange, through which the bilateral relations between France and Singapore are strengthened.
Founded in 2007, Voilah! is previously organised by the French Chamber of Commerce in Singapore before the festival baton is passed to the Embassy of France in Singapore. While the festival agenda has always been the promotion of French culture, the 2019 edition has a renewed focus on fostering Singaporean-French partnerships.
The 2011 edition explored both the traditional and contemporary aspects of French culture, with ‘Dreams & Reality: Masterpieces of painting, drawing and photography’ as a highlight event. Held at the National Museum of Singapore, the exhibition showcased more than 140 Impressionist artworks brought over from the Musée d'Orsay.
Another notable programme is ‘Haute Couture Week’, which presented French haute couture works as part of Women’s Fashion Week. This includes the 2011 Fall/Winter collections of grand couturiers Gustavo Lins and Stephane Rolland.
Voilah! 2011 also saw the launch of Singapore’s pioneer Fashion Film Festival, which uncovered the creative process and intricacies of the fashion industry through 10 documentaries. One of them was ‘Underground Stage’, produced by Sinema TV and examines the fashion scene in Singapore.
The fifth instalment of Voilah! delved into the realm of performing arts, with a surge of music and dance performances in the programme lineup. Examples include Philippe Genty’s visual theatre performance ‘Voyagers to Nowhere’ and French dancer Sebastien Ledig’s choreography for T.H.E Second Company.
To celebrate Singapore’s 50th birthday and the longstanding diplomatic relations between Singapore and France, the theme of Voilah! 2015 was food. The Voilah! Food Festival engaged with more than 60 partners to offer a wide range of promotions and French gastronomy experiences. For example, students from the restaurant management course at the Institute of Technical Education Singapore worked with French culinary school Institut Paul Bocuse to create a menu of French cuisine for the festival.
A notable programme in Voilah! 2016 was Luminéoles Ballet: an immersive light installation sporting illuminated flowers and kites at Gardens by the Bay. The newly refurbished National Gallery Singapore also collaborated with Centre Pompidou to present the exhibition ‘Reframing Modernism’, which examined the artform in both Southeast Asian and European contexts through 200 works from both museums.
The festival theme for 2017 is “France Imagines, France Innovates”. Aligning with French President Francois Hollande and Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s designation of 2018 as the France-Singapore Year of Innovation, the programmes explicate various facets of science, technology and innovation alongside cultural programmes.
This edition celebrates the France-Singapore Year of Innovation along with ten years of cultural cooperation between the two countries. Programmes such as photography exhibition ‘Touched By The Cold’ offer artistic interpretations to scientific and technological themes. The festival’s opening night commenced with ‘The Rock’s Clown’: a multi-disciplinary theatrical performance starring French theatre-director Jean Lambert-Wild, French juggler Martin Palisse and Hossan Leong
The 2019 edition sees some significant changes: While the festival took place in April in the previous years, it now presents a rich calendar of France-Singapore programmes in October. The annual French Film Festival — a longstanding staple in the calendar of cinephiles and francophiles — is also integrated into the programme lineup.
More importantly, while Voilah! has always been a platform supporting intercultural exchange, the 2019 edition is committed to a deeper level of engagement with Singaporeans in light of the two countries’ inter-governmental cultural agreement renewal. The festival now works in closer collaboration with local institutions to develop 51 programmes under a wider spectrum of disciplines. There is also an agenda to develop a regional audience. Moreover, the festival celebrates several French-Singaporean anniversaries. This includes the 20th anniversary of the French Double Degree Programme - the longest running academic collaboration between France and Singapore, the 30th anniversary of cooperation in heritage, 35th edition of French Film Festival, 70th anniversary of the Alliance Française in Singapore and 200 years of cooperation in natural history since two French naturalists – Pierre-Médard Diard and Alfred Duvaucel – accompanied Sir Stamford Raffles on his landing in Singapore in 1819.
For the first time in the festival’s history, a Singaporean Patron for French Culture is appointed to offer a local perspective in cross-cultural interactions. The 2018 edition features actor Hossan Leong, who is recognised as Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Ministry for demonstrating the value of cultural exchange through the arts.
The festival patron for Voilah! 2019 is actress Janice Koh, who has been involved in numerous intercultural co-productions. Amongst them include the blockbuster film Crazy Rich Asians and The Reunification of the Two Koreas: A play written by French playwright Joeql Pommerat, led by French director Jacques Vincey, and co-produced in 2018 by TheatreWorks Singapore and the Centre Dramatique National de Tours. 
Voilah! France Singapore Festival
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- "Reframing Modernism". National Gallery Singapore. Retrieved 29 October 2019.
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