March 29, 2020

La BD Francophone: a celebration of the French language and comic book culture

H.E. Mr. Tigran Balayan, Ambassador of the Republic of Armenia.

By Tereza Neuwirthova.

On the evening of March 5th, the embassies of the countries of the International Organization of La Francophonie (OIF) to The Netherlands, together with the French Institute, organised a celebration of the richness and diversity of the francophone cultures. The theme of this event that is annually held in the week of the French language, as well as during the month of La Francophonie, was Bandes Dessinées (BD); a culture of cartoons that represents an artistic form connecting and honoured in all francophone countries.

The event was held in the interiors of Pathé Buitenhof in The Hague, and saw the attendance of many diplomatic representatives, but also cartoonists, journalists or experts from the French-speaking world, together with a large number of members of the francophone community in The Netherlands.

La Francophonie, festival des Bandes Dessinées.

To begin the programme, the chairman of the Group of French-speaking Ambassadors in The Hague and the ambassador of Armenia, H.E. Mr. Tigran Balayan, welcomed the guests:

“It is my pleasure to be hosting this special event on the occasion of 50 years’ celebration of the International Organization of La Francophonie. The basis of this organisation is the French language, which also serves as the universal value that strengthens international solidarity and cooperation among the members of La Francophonie, but of course with other countries as well. This unique cause is recognised by all ambassadors of francophone countries to The Netherlands, my colleagues who are present here today.” 

Ambassadors, artists and participants to the 50 years’ celebration of the International Organization of La Francophonie.

“Moreover, the exceptional creativity and variety that the art of Bandes Dessinées offers, provides a unique means of communication that supports and ameliorates the relations through this cultural expression. Therefore, I hope that this evening will be an opportunity not only to honour the culture of comics, but also the commitment to building solidarity with the help of this artistic expression.”

The moderator of the event, Sonia Deschamps, held two round-table discussions with famous cartoonists that presented their works, as well as intellectual and artistic approach. During the first part of the programme, a debate on the topic “Comics: glances on history and the duty of memory”, was held with the authors Zeina Abirached (Lebanon), Emile Bravo (France), and Emilie Plateau (France). 

Thereafter, an intervention performance by the pupils of the Lycée Français Vincent van Gogh from The Hague followed, during which their works-comics on the topic of climate change, were presented.

50 years’ celebration of the International Organization of La Francophonie, Festival des Bandes Dessinées.

After the performance, a second round-table debate followed, during which the illustrators Jean Auquier (Belgium), Guy Delisle (Québec), and Judith Vanistendael (Belgium) presented their works related to the topic “Comics: witness to reality and highlights of the issues of our time”. In addition, a short film about the “Velvet Revolution” was shown, where a group of Armenian cartoonists called Mayro Comics presented their work conveying the message of tolerance and mutual respect to the Armenian public.

The evening ended with a reception at which the embassies of francophone countries presented plenty of their national delicacies, in the form of a variety of drinks and dishes. The reception was highly enjoyed by all guests, who chatted about the topics of the evening programme, as well as the exceptional artistic value that the Bandes Dessinées present for the culture of La Francophonie. This celebration marked another enjoyable event organised by the diplomatic community of The Hague.

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