[French] When Men Become Bears and Goats

The special exhibition Bears and Other Masks portraying Romanian New Year’s Eve traditions was inaugurated at the Romanian Cultural Institute last Thursday.

If you choose to travel to Romania these days, you might not only spot people singing Christmas Carols around Christmas trees or curious eyes exploring the treasures hidden under the tree. You may also catch sight of men wearing bear coats stomping their feet to the beat of drums and pipes followed by a procession of costumed children. You might also observe women wearing masks and coloured costumes, clattering their wooden jaws to the rhythm of pipes. After all, these are some of Romanians astonishing New Year’s Eve traditions, all nearly 2000 years old and still celebrated in Romania today.

When Romanian photographer Dragos Lumpan became aware of the value of these ancient traditions, he initiated in-depth research in the small village of Vintileasca that would last 5 years. The result can now be admired at the Romanian Cultural Institute: vivid, colourful pictures displaying the symbolic masks in the context of contemporary urban lifestyle. The author has succeeded in capturing these moments of celebration in a natural and authentic way. “I see my role as an observer. But I also wanted to draw attention to these ancient traditions. We want to keep them alive – they shouldn’t be locked away in museums”, explained Dragos at the exhibition.

The bears and goats represent gods of ancient religions. “It is a very old, pre-Christian ritual”, continued Dragos. “The ugly masks are worn to chase away evil spirits.” This is why the ritual is accompanied by a lot of noise. The performance is done to make the New Year start well. “But nowadays, we don’t see it as a spiritual ceremony, it is a cultural celebration. There is a very pleasant atmosphere: people dance and spend time together”, he says.

The masks involved in the ritual are all expertly hand-built with feathers, metal and coats, giving the custom a very original touch. It is real traditional art!

The exhibition is open until 15 January 2010 and admission is free. For more information please visit http://www.icr-london.co.uk/.
By Julia Sahm

[French] Insight into Mexico City

Mexican author Ángeles González Gamio lectured on the history of Mexico City at the Instituto Cervantes in London

Mexico City, the country’s economic, industrial and cultural centre, represents the second largest metropolitan area in the world with a population of more than19 million people.  Ángeles González Gamio, who has written several books on the history of the capital, made the perfect fit for this passionate introduction, taking the audience on a historical tour of the city in her lecture last Thursday.

With Mexico City’s buildings breathing history, there was a lot to say about its architecture. According to Ángeles, the building structure reflects the mentality of the city which has seen many different rulers and cultures in the course of its history. Interestingly, the huge metropolis used to be a small settlement in a valley surrounded by several lakes. It was originally called Teotihuacán and stood between the lakes. Later, the Aztecs would install their empire on the lake’s shores. They managed to create an effective system of dams and canals. When the Spaniards arrived (mistaken for the god Quetzalcóatl and his people, therefore warmly welcomed by the Aztecs), they were amazed by the beauty of the city’s fertile gardens, canals and temples. History shows that they took it over brutally and began to build a Spanish city they called Mexico. The colonial rulers brought wealth to the capital and started building an impressive city. Its architecture  became renowned by the eighteenth century. It was in no way inferior to what the best of Europe had to offer.

When Mexico gained independence from Spain in 1821, the cut with the Spanish mentality was also mirrored in its buildings. The Mexicans started looking towards France and imitating their architecture. The 19th century was generally chaotic, with the Mexican rulers trying to curb the power of the Catholic Church  and by the twentieth century Mexico City had become a modern city.

In 1910 the social movement changed Mexico’s way of thinking. The result was a new nationalist feeling with the aim of recovering the indigenous heritage. As a consequence, art became accessible to everybody, Mexican music emerged and a Neo-colonial and Art Deco style started to appear in the city.

Ángeles completed her historical tour by showing pictures of her favourite spots managing to transmit her passion for Mexico City to the audience, making it a very insightful evening. Later, the lecture was nicely brought to an end with original Mexican beer, courtesy of the Mexican embassy.

By Julia Sahm

[French] Losing two brothers and gaining one

The remarkable documentary “Good Intentions” crowned the UK Jewish Film Festival that took place in London from 7th to 19th November.

Eluding the tribulations of the economy and stepping into the wonderful world of cinema was the invitation headline of the 13th UK Jewish Film Festival this year which included the inspiring documentary “Good intentions”, and offered much more to the festival than mere escapism and entertainment.  This “groundbreaking TV drama” centres around two female chefs from Palestine and Israel, who are invited to co-host a cookery show in Israel. This is a novelty in the ongoing dispute between Israelis and Palestinians, in their world of opposed communities, full of prejudice towards each other. Amal and Tamil, the two chefs, face enormous hostility when they decide to become friends.  “Should I say 'I can’t kill you because you are a friend of my mum’s'?” is the outrageous question of Tamil’s son as he is getting ready to join Israel’s army, to which Tamil’s husband exclaims wearily: “We can share as much humus as we want – there will never be peace. It is either them or us!”

Meanwhile, her partner Amal is declared a traitor and has to cope with the opposition from her embittered brother who lost his legs in an Israeli attack. Battling against the walls of prejudice and fear, Amal and Tamil decide to overcome these obstacles and to build bridges through the cookery show.

“Good intentions” is part of a drama series aired on Israeli television showing both Arabs and Jews interacting for the first time on prime time television broadcast both in Arabic and Hebrew. It is based on true stories, inspired by “The Parents’ Circle – Family Forum”, a peacemaking organisation that brings together Israeli and Palestinian families who have lost loved ones in the conflict. Their stories have been woven into the series, making the experience even more absorbing and intense.

In a discussion following the documentary, two members of The Parents’ Circle shared their experience as peacemakers in Israel. “Each of us must choose a path” explained Robi Damelin, whose son was killed in the conflict.

Her choice was to follow a road of education. Her knowledge grew as she discovered and learnt that Israelis and Palestinians generally don’t know or speak to each other – and therefore don’t understand one another. Robi passionately believes that her work can make a difference. “This is real, there is no fiction” added Ali Abu Awwad, the narrator of a fascinating story, and former anti-Israel activist. “I have lost two brothers in the conflict” he said, “but I have gained one”.

Attending the festival was throughout an enriching experience and the impact that the documentary had on us will surely endure.

If you are interested in learning more about “The Parents’ Circle – Family Forum”, please feel free to visit their website: http://www.theparentscircle.org/

By Julia Sahm

[French] Global Marketing and finding the right words

A challenging equation which can build or destroy a brand

Creative Culture would like to share an article about Global Marketing and the importance of choosing the right words.

A study conducted by e-spirit shows how major global brands sometimes still under-estimate the importance of the global roll-out and finding the right partners to make their messages travel the world, in the most relevant and impacting way, culturally and linguistically.

Creativity does not translate, it adapts. This requires briefing, de-briefing and teams of talented creative specialists who understand the global needs as well as the local requirements.

The investment will always reveal being worth it. http://www.utalkmarketing.com/pages/Articles.aspx?ArticleD=15756&Title=Top_5Biggest_Global_Marketing_Blunders_revealed

By Melanie Chevalier

[French] Hungarian Film Festival: Check The Gate

The Hungarian film festival in London starts on Thursday 25th June.

Check the Gate, the second Hungarian film festival in London, will take place from 25th to 30th June 2009. Organised by the Hungarian Cultural Center in London and hosted at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, it will focus on Hungarian films before and after 1989.

Not only will the films selected introduce the audience to various genres, but they will also give a good understanding of the evolution of the country from WWII through to the cold war and post-communism. Some movies will also present lighter subjects such as love stories and street culture.

This festival is a great opportunity for Londoners to discover Hungary which is not often under the spotlight.

The programme and tickets for the viewings are available online on the ICA website: http://www.ica.org.uk/Check%20the%20Gate+20079.twl

For people who attend the viewings, feel free to share your thoughts with us!

LINK: http://www.checkthegate.ord.uk/

By Melanie Chevalier

[French] Death and the King’s Horseman

The clash of two cultures in WWII Africa

If you live in London and haven’t seen this play yet, run to the National Theatre as it will be on until 17 June only. Based on a true story, Death and the King’s Horseman depicts with beauty, taste and strength a cultural clash between the British colonial community and the local traditions of Nigeria.

It has been one month since The Alafin (King) of Oyo has died and as per the tradition, the community is preparing for the night’s ritual: the burial of the King along with the ritual suicide and wedding of his ‘Horseman’ who will accompany him to the other world. Having heard about the ritual, the British colonial officer in charge of the area is on his way, in order to prevent this ‘murder’ from happening, along with what could be regarded as chaos in his hierarchy.

Full of authenticity, this play tells the story of two ‘co-living’ communities who due to cultural differences do not understand each other and probably never will. The interaction within each of the communities is alien to the other one.

A subject approached with subtlety, which is still relevant to this day in various parts of the World.


-The original story took place in Nigeria in 1946. For the purposes of the play, Wole Soyinka set the story back in 1943-

By Melanie Chevalier

[French] Word-of-mouth – Made In Belgium

www.theinsiders.eu was launched on 24th May 2009.

How do brands take into consideration their customers’ point-of-view on a new product, a re-orientation of their strategy or the latest campaign? What makes a brand strong and convincing in a local market? What makes them grow?

Nowadays with the buzz of social networks, blogs and online communities, it seems as if we are getting back to basics, so don’t be surprised if the good old word-of-mouth is the way forward to get that bit closer to your customer.

The Insiders or Les Initiés understand this opportunity well. They are efficiently creating one of the biggest online communities constituted of consumers in the Benelux countries. The principle is simple: rather than going through traditional consumer testing methods, The Insiders take care of getting your products, campaigns and concepts tested by their reliable online network of consumers. All demographics are engaged in this process of review in order to provide succinct analytical feedback on your product, campaign, or brief.

The Insiders offers a real incentive for both the consumer and the brand:

  • As a consumer, you are placed at the heart of your favourite brand’s activities. You are the first to be informed of their new ventures, and are given the opportunity to try out new products before they hit the market, in exchange for your opinion.
  • As a brand, it is a unique opportunity to hear what your consumers really think, it is a facilitator to interact with consumers in an easy, informal way. This turn will help your brand to prepare the most relevant and efficient campaign.

Creative Culture recommends you take a look at their website here: www.theinsiders.eu, currently available in Dutch and French.

By Melanie Chevalier

[French] Creative Culture On Set

Creative Culture was appointed as the local research and interpreting partner on the set of a documentary for Discovery Channel.

The plot of the documentary was around an incident which took place on 17 July 2007 on the Tour de France. A beige Labrador crossed the road as the cyclists were passing through a mountain village and hit Marcus Burghardt.

For the first stage of the project, Creative Culture was appointed to undertake a local research and find the dog and its owners for a documentary for Animal Planet (Discovery Channel). Mission accomplished after less than 48 hours!

The second stage was to organise the interviews with the various people involved in the story: the dog’s owner, his nephew who was the witness of the accident and his mother who lives in the village of the accident.

Our research and language experts managed this project in the local language (French) to ease the process with all participants.

The final stage was to accompany the crew on set. The shoot took place in the French Alps (Grenoble and Lanslevillard). Creative Culture was present as a language expert, leading the interview in French and assisting with various aspects of the logistics.

It was an incredible experience full of fascinating facts. We were introduced to the most extraordinary dog, Nelson, who had spent his life paragliding with his owners, a couple who have climbed the seven highest peaks on each continent and the most incredible weather (unseen in 30 years in the French Alps) with 1 metre of snow falling on our heads in less than 12 hours!

For more information on Nelson’s owners, Claire and Zébulon, and their sensational activities, please visit: http://www.antipodeszeb.com/ (there is a version in English for non-French speakers)

By Melanie Chevalier