On Thursday the Francophone world celebrated the day of "Francophonie" - a celebration of the French language wherever it's spoken. Within the EU no one plays up their language as much as the French. And of course France is famous for trying to resist the encroachment of the English language and American culture in particular. Strict rules for example regulate the amount of French music that has to be played on the radio, and there's even a special department within France's Ministry of Culture devoted to the French language. But what is the status of French in the world today?
Every year the Eurovision song contest captivates millions of viewers around Europe - and is famous catapulting bands like Abba or some one hit wonders to the top of the charts. For hopeful bands, a Eurovision campaign begins way before the finals that the world sees on television. In Sweden the selection took 6 weeks, 32 songs and millions of TV viewers and their votes. Last Saturday saw the final of Sweden's Melodifestival to select their entrant for Eurovision 2008 in Belgrade. Radio Sweden's Kris Boswell has all the details.
Something else that potentially needs an image revamp is Polish food. In the communist era, local dishes had a reputation for being gray and stogy. And as trendy bistros and international restaurants open up in the Polish capital, there’s fear traditional dishes could be left behind. Michal Kubicki from Polish Radio External Services set out culinary tour of Warsaw, and found, to his surprise, that Polish food still has a place in the hearts of its citizens.
Movie buffs and the film-making community in Poland are in jubilant mood. The list of Oscar nominations has been published and it includes several Polish names, with the nation’s most acclaimed director Andrzej Wajda leading the field with a nomination for best foreign film.
It’s Carnival season all around the world at the moment, and for a lot of people taking part it’s an excuse to get dressed up in decadent costumes and go a bit wild. The Carnival season leads up to Lent, the logic goes, enjoy yourself now and then give things up in the run up to Easter. Carnival has its roots in Roman Catholicism and in Germany, the people of Cologne are famous for celebrating Carnival with an almost religious fervour. That hasn’t always been true for the city’s immigrant community though who have found it difficult to get into the mood. Until now that is.
The average Pole spends three and a half hours a day in front of the TV. Nearly half of that time is devoted to watching soap operas. People watch these series because they can identify something of themselves in them. And some Polish sociologists say that they can be good for establishing family roles.
Arn is the most expensive Swedish film ever. It opened on Christmas day, and it pulled in over 160-thousand spectators in the first two days. But can all these movie goers be wrong? One critic doesn’t think this knight in shining armour will win the box office battle.
Turning to Sweden now and another legend never to be forgotten. Swedes said goodbye to film director Ingmar Bergman whose classic films like "Fanny and Alexander" have become a firm fixture in the hall of Swedish cultural fame. Internationally, Ingmar Bergman is most known for his films, but he was also a very active author and playwright. The legendary director died in his home on the Swedish island of Fårö in 2007. Radio Sweden's Azariah Kiros talked to Astrid Söderbergh-Widding, chairperson of the Ingmar Bergman Foundation.
The call by an Iraqi organization with links to Al Qaida to murder a Swedish artist and the chief editor of a provincial newspaper is still topping the headlines in Sweden. The call came in the wake of the artist's drawing of the Prophet Mohammed as a dog-like figurine decorating a traffic roundabout. Radio Sweden's Mark Cummins and Azariah Kiros compiled this story.
Remember that? The images themselves weren’t as graphic as it sounds. The whole thing was supposed to help promote European films. Sex sells. Well, Romania is seeing tangible results—An open-air theatre screening European movies is turning around a Bucharest neighbourhood. Radio Romania International's Iulian Muresan has more.
When you think bullfighting, you think Spain. Well, France also has a bullfighting tradition, though it’s come under criticism for being, well, too violent. The group that regulates French advertising has banned an ad showing a bull being killed during a match. RFI’s Anustup Roy meets some aficionados and some detractors of the sport.
Many people have an image of Ingmar Bergman as a very austere director who made dark and depressing films about death, doom and dramas. Internationally, Ingmar Bergman is most known for his films, but he was also a very active author - writing scripts, novels and theater plays. The legendary director died this week in his home on the Swedish island of Fårö. Radio Sweden talked to Astrid Söderbergh-Widding, chairperson of the Ingmar Bergman Foundation.
There’s new evidence to suggest that it’s the summer of love in Brussels. European government suffers from an image problem and is often seen as aloof, unrepresentative and meddling. But now if you surf the EU’s website you’ll find that Brussels is involved in the sexy and seductive world of the movies. Hundreds of thousands of visitors to the site have been enjoying a steamy short film montage of famous sex scenes from celebrated European movies. The two minute film is now a hit on YouTube, but it’s upset a good number of people too.
When night falls in the Serbian capital Belgrade, the whole city gets ready to go out and party. In the summertime, the nightlife takes place outdoors. Many clubs close down their bars and cellars in the town center and move to floating rafts on the banks of the Danube and Sava rivers. Hundreds of rafts line the imposing confluence of the two rivers and offer everything from Gypsy music to electronic beats, grunge and turbo folk - a sort of Serbian ethno-pop.
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