In honour of International Francophonie Day today, the Canadian High Commission and Alliance Française of Barbados held a rare film screening of La Grande Séduction, also known as Seducing Doctor Lewis, at the Barbados Museum and Historical Society.
Held under the theme En Francais . . . s’il vous plait [In French . . . please], the International Francophonie Day celebrates French language and Francophone culture by one billion people in over 77 states worldwide.
Speaking to specially invited guests at the film screening, High Commissioner of Canada to Barbados Marie Legault pointed out that the film which was released in 2003 was equally relevant in 2019, as it echoed the impact of globalization and the need to revive one’s economy, as well as the solidarity of a people, as exhibited by the cricket-crazed villagers in the film.
La Grande Séduction is set in the little fishing village of Saint-Marie-La-Mauderne, Canada. It was formerly a prosperous fishing community, but the industry has dried up and fisherfolk are forced to become reliant on government welfare. When a company considers building a factory on the island, the community sees an opportunity for the village to be revived. However, the factory cannot be built without permission from the resident doctor, Dr Lewis, and the villagers therefore embark on the “seduction” of the doctor in an effort to transform the village.
During her opening address, the High Commissioner pushed for more French translation of English words.
“Very often in this new world of science and technology, when we create new words they tend to be more in English. Francophonie is using the theme this year to say ‘let’s translate those words, let’s use those words’ . . . . We can also create new words in French to translate this new economy,” said Legault.
Her sentiments were echoed by the Director of Alliance Française of Barbados, Stanislas Riener, who spoke about the importance of preserving culture and language.
“The preservation of a language is like the environment; language contributes to biodiversity, helping to maintain a balance. In the Caribbean and also its North American cousin, Louisiana, the revitalization of the French language has allowed the recognition and preservation of various languages in the region,” he said.
“Martinique, Guadeloupe and French Guinea are proof of the importance and advantage of being able to communicate in French. Culture, education, industry, agriculture, tourism finance, health—all of the sectors are concerned,” Reiner added.