Voilà! The inaugural France Rocks Summerfest– or should we say, France Des Roches Fest D’été (no, no we shouldn’t)– kicked off Memorial Monday with a performance by “guitar orchestra” composer Rhys Chatham, and continues on June 3 with a performance at Le Poisson Rouge by French pianist and composer Maxence Cyrin (known for his solo piano covers; check out his 2009 cover of “Where Is My Mind” by The Pixies). The seven-week showcase of French music will include more than 30 musical acts performing a range of indie rock, pop, electronica, jazz and world rhythms at more than 25 venues across Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Bronx.
Bar Omar, a new addition to Williamsburg’s bubbling culinary landscape, is a French-Algerian restaurant that forgoes the stereotypical Moroccan-style lamps and ornamental plates in favor of what co-owner Yasmina Guerda says is a “Brooklyn aesthetic”: natural wood paneling, a well-stocked, speakeasy-type bar, and a window-paneled front looking out onto Grand Street.
Mentioning Gad Elmaleh’s residency at Joe’s Pub to my American friends was a weird experience. “He’s the most famous comedian in France!” I said, full of jingoistic pride. The embarrassed silence that ensued made me realize that my announcement didn’t quite have the expected effect. So I tried a different approach. “He’s like the French Jerry Seinfeld, you know. They’re actually good friends. He’s even been a guest on Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.”
“Oh… Really?” was the politest answer I could get. But I saw in my interlocutors’ perplexed eyes that they had no clue who the hell I was talking about.
“It’s sort of an unknown region in Southern France, very poor, with incredible food,” explained Henry Moynahan Rich, owner of neighborhood greats like East Williamsburg’s Fitzcarraldo and Rucola in Boerum Hill. He was talking about the inspiration behind Cassette, his new French Catalonian outpost in Greenpoint. “It’s simple, rustic, healthy food, because that’s how I like to eat.”
You’ll Be a Man is an indie French movie. “I know what you’re thinking!” says LES Film Fest director Tony Castle. “But it’s truly amazing—just a really captivating film about a 20-year-old boy. He becomes a live-in maid. The mother and son love him. The father hates him. Super weird and sexy!” It’s one of the hardest to market, Castle laments, but a brilliant film nonetheless.