With a new director on board, the French Institute in Athens has welcomed the new season with a series of activities ranging from spectacular shows to film screenings, tributes to filmmakers and literary events. The institute’s ambitious program for 2004-5, which began last Thursday with the music and theater performance «Poemes et Chants d’Amour,» can be broadly divided into shows, cinema, literature and other artistic events, which include a blacklight puppet theater performance, a tribute to young French filmmakers and Greek filmmakers who have strong links with France, a meeting with the acclaimed French photographer Philip Plisson, a tribute to writer Claude Simon and much more. On Saturday, the French Institute will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to present information on its activities, courses and services in the presence of the French ambassador and with all of the Institute’s staff on hand. «We are very ambitious regarding French-Greek relations and the institute’s role in them,» said new director Alain Fohr, who has returned to Greece after a long absence, at a press conference last week. He pointed out that 2004 has been a powerful year and that both the French Institute and Greece have evolved in that time. «The Dwarf and the Baobab» is the title of the only other show scheduled until the end of 2004, after «Poemes et Chants d’Amour.» Adapted and directed by Jean-Paul Plot, the blacklight puppet theater show, a production of the Tara Theater group, is a family performance that blends the beliefs, magic and traditions of Africa. It will be staged November 18 to 20 in the institute’s auditorium. The institute’s film agenda is also quite rich and starts off with a tribute to six young French filmmakers, whose first full-length films are to be screened between October 19 to 21. Screenings consist of Zabou Breitman’s «Se Souvenir des belles choses» (Beautiful Memories) and Christophe Honore’s «17 fois Cecile Cassard» (Seventeen Times Cecile Cassard) on October 19, Guillaume Canet’s «Mon Idol» (My Idol) and Benedicte Lienard’s «Une pard du ciel» (A Piece of Sky) on October 20 and Michel Munz and Gerard Bitton’s «Ah! Si j’etais riche» (If I were a Rich Man) and Julie Lopes-Curval’s «Bord de mer» (Seaside) on October 21. In the context of the «Wednesday Films» series of screenings, the institute is launching a new program in letting a Greek filmmaker present one of his films as well as two French films that have influenced his work. The program will kick off with Panos Koutras’s «The Attack of the Giant Moussaka,» to be screened on November 24. Koutras has selected Robert Bresson’s «L’Argent» (Money), starring Christian Patey and Caroline Lang, (December 1) and Max Ophuls’s «Madame de…» (Diamond Earrings), featuring Danielle Darrieux, Charles Boyer and Vittorio de Sica (December 8). «France provides many opportunities to foreign filmmakers,» said Koutras at the press conference. Koutras will be succeeded by director Roviros Manthoulis in January. Other screenings through the end of the year feature Jacques Demy’s family film «Peau d’ Ane» (Donkey Skin), starring Catherine Deneuve, Jacques Perrin and Jean Marais on December 15, and this year’s box-office hit in France, Christophe Barratier’s drama «Les Choristes» (Chorists), starring Gerard Jugnot and Francois Berleand, on December 22. Literary and other artistic events begin with tomorrow’s date with top photographer Philip Plisson, who will first meet with young Greek photographers to discuss their work and will later project slides of his photographs to the public and sign his books. Events also include the presentation of Kastaniotis’s second edition dedicated to contemporary European theater, containing texts by five European playwrights, on November 8; a discussion of Le Corbusier’s work on the occasion of the translation into Greek of his book «Vers une Architecture» on November 29; a tribute to Nobel prize in literature winner Claude Simon with a film screening and a round-table discussion on December 18; an exhibition of children’s books which will run from December 13 to 23 and much more. Finally, the French Institute’s scientific agenda continues with events including a two-day symposium on philosopher Spinoza (November 22-23) among others, as well as the launch of a «Science Cafe,» in collaboration with the Eugenides Foundation and Focus magazine, which will meet once a month at the Institute’s bistro and the Eugenides Foundation’s cafe alternatively. The Science Cafe hopes to initiate a dialogue between the public and scientists; at every meeting a researcher will give a short lecture on a pre-selected topic which will be followed by discussion with the audience. The first session is to take place on November 9 at the Institute’s bistro.