I made it to the French Disabled Women's Association « Femmes pour le dire, Femmes pour agir"
3rd Annual conference Forum Femme Création Handicap
and gave my little 5 minute speech as Maudy Piot, the President had asked me to - in French. Matthieu helped me with the translation.
I was late getting there because I did not want to stay the night in Paris and I missed quite a bit of the conference at the beginning and the end - which is a shame because the programme looked very impressive. I enjoyed what I did see and can report on those bits.
I arrived at about lunch time and there was a tribal dance Grillons Papillons
on stage. It looked very colorful.
I made my way to Maudy Piot in the front row with her guide dog, she was happy I could make it and told her husband, Alain, who was the compere that I would be giving a short speech.
During the lunch interval I wenat around the different stands/stalls called ' ruches' (hives/cells). There were many organisations which did disability arts or music and theatre - a mixture of those ran by disabled people and some by therapists - I do not think that there would be such a mixture of non disabled and carers with disabled groups in a UK organised event.
There were some artwork depicting mental health survivors but the stand was not ' manned' and the explanations were hung too high for me to read properly.
There was a ' foot and mouth' artists stand too. However, I was impressed by Sandrine Lepelletier's
I spoke with someone whom I think is one of the Retour d' image organisers, she told me she needed her lunch too much to talk to me but that there was a film festival happening just across the hall the 3rd Festival Retour d'image
Our team programs movies featuring disabled characters, in accessible french cinemas and cultural centers. All the films are subtitled and audio-described in french. A debate is conducted following each screening, by a disabled film critic or professional. French sign language interpreters are provided at every venue.
Certainly I missed Sandrine Bonnaire who was the guest of honour - she had just had a documentary out about her autistic sister:
Elle s'appelle Sabine de Sandrine Bonnaire,
documentaire Français, 2007, 85 mn, produit par Mosaïque films.
Le portrait émouvant par Sandrine Bonnaire de sa soeur autiste Sandrine, d'un an sa cadette.
I did not miss Nicolleta,
however, she did not sing but she gave a lovely speech which she topped by saying that she is involved in the organisation because her mother had a learning disability.
For me, the most impressive event was the premiere of the musical l’Opéra du désert par Duo Soma.
The two Somas are both disabled musicians and singers and I was entranced by the breadth and the profound message in the music and the story. There was a verve, a joy, exuberance which is powerful and thoroughly enjoyable. It was not intimidating at all inspite of being called an opera. My rough translation of the story as given is -
16th century AD in North Africa
A Berber noble, Tin Hinan, ‘She who came from faraway’ crossed the Sahara accompanied by her loyal servant, Takamat, to meet the spirits of Hoggar – volcanic mountains in mid Sahara – and to find her destiny. The spirits revealed her own liberty as a free woman and that she had to decide her own destiny for herself…
Legend has it that Tin Hinnan was a magnificent woman with immense and passionate eyes. She was also an authoritative woman who was the queen of her community.
Unfortunately, after my very short speech, I had to leave to catch my train for Strasbourg.