Joyeux anniversaire to the IFA

On July 27, 1907, the Greek Ministry of Culture gave permission for the capital’s Municipal French Language School to open in a building at 21 Sina Street in Kolonaki. The classes were aimed at «young pupils with some experience in the French language and aged at least 14 years.» This permit was the birth certificate of the French Institute of Athens (IFA), which operated under the auspices of the Archaeological School of Athens. Celebrating its centennial this year, the French Institute has grown into much more than just a respected educational institution over the years. For many in the Greek capital, it has been and continues to be «The Institute,» the most popular foreign cultural center in Athens. An anniversary is always a good excuse for a celebration and IFA Director Alain Fohr announced on Monday the events the institute will be organizing throughout 2007 to mark this important occasion. One of the events is already established as an annual one: the French Film Festival, held every spring. But this year, the IFA’s program of annual events has been enriched with additional tributes to important filmmakers, conferences, lectures, competitions, exhibitions and even street theater performances. Festivities will begin tomorrow with the first concert of a fortnight of musical evenings dedicated to Melpo Merlier, organized in collaboration with the Greek Music Workshop of the music studies department of the Ionian University in association with the Merlier Archive of the Center of Asia Minor Studies. The IFA will also be participating with the Greek Ministry of Culture in its organization of celebrations of Nikos Kazantzakis Year with a conference running from March 13-25 on translations of and by the Cretan writer and a series of events in October including film screenings, an exhibition and round-table discussion. October will also see an expansive exhibition on the Fluxus movement at the Benaki Museum’s Pireos Street annex. Before that date, we can also expect a tribute exhibition to Jean Cocteau as well as a meeting with the famed French actor Jean-Claude Brialy. Out on the streets, the IFA will be taking the party to Ermou Street on May 19 with an open-air fashion show and bringing the air of Montmartre to Sina Street for the Fete de la Musique (June 21).