100th anniversary of the Battle of Verdun – new memorial for united remembrance
Three years it took to reconstruct the memorial of Verdun, which until now only remembered French soldiers who fought in WWI. Now it reminds visitors of the suffering on both side – French and German – during this war of position which claimed the lives of over 300,000 soldiers. 100 years after German artillery fire started the ‘battle of Verdun’ on 21st February, the mémorial de Verdun
depicts the horror of the war with a new multimedia exhibition.
The memorial includes a concrete tower with a glass facade. Visitors enter the building from below, similar to entering a trench, and can now see for themselves the former battlefield, the effects of the 300-day battle still visible today. Opened in 1967 as a place to honour the French resistance against the German invaders ‘Verdun is now a symbol of the cruelty of the First World War’, says the director of the memorial, Thierry Hubscher. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President François Hollande will ceremoniously inaugurate the memorial end of May.
Withdrawal of citizenship splits Parliament – Minister of Justice resigns
President Hollande’s motion towards legal reform deeply divided the parliament. The measure to withdraw citizenship from individuals who have committed an act of terror against the nation. The motion provoked harsh criticism. Especially because the UN declaration of human rights forbids withdrawal of citizenship, because making individuals stateless could have unintended negative consequences. So far the reform only concerns people with dual citizenship, which many claim could lead to a two-class society.
After publicly rejecting Hollande’s plans the Minister of Justice Christiane Taubira resigned at the end of January. Nevertheless, the National Assembly voted with 162 against 148 votes for the article 2, taking into account that only half of the Assembly was present. In contrast to that the extension and admission of the national state of emergency into the constitution was passed with the required three-fifths majority of the National Assembly.
Attractive France: Lower taxes to lure film productions
The French cinéphélie
is widely known. Not only because of the famous Cannes film festival with its coveted price the palme d'or. Since the movies of the Nouvelle Vague made ‘French quality’ movies famous, France is an important location for film productions. Though 40 per cent of the domestic market is occupied by French productions and the taxation on cinema tickets contributes the French film, American productions are still taking the lion's share with 60 per cent of the shown films.
The National Centre of Cinema (CNC), founded in 1946 to support the French film industry, now tries to steer these foreign influences by lowering taxes on film shoots by 30 per cent. According to CNC’s president Frédérique Bredin this should grant about 200 million euros of supplementary incomes and 10,000 new jobs. A higher competitiveness on the international market could be one goal of this ‘leverage’. Already 15 productions – amongst them Roman Polanski’s 60 million euro film ‘Dreyfus’– have announced their return to France.
The earnings should also benefit French actors who are expected to go international as well as the domestic, independent production of low budget films. Film in France is seen as a cultural and not consumerist good. This ‘cultural exception’
protects the home industry. France has the highest density of cinemas worldwide.
Eagles of Death Metal – First concert after Paris attacks
Three months after terrorists killed 89 people at a ‘The Eagles of Death Metal’ concert at the Bataclan
, a well-frequented location for concert goers, band has played their first concert. 500 survivors of the assassination came to the concert in the Parisian ‘Olympia’, which took place under high safety precautions and with 30 psychologists accompanying the event. Frontman Jesse Hughes interrupted the concert for a moment of silence in commemoration of the victims.
The public opinion about this event is polarised. Some think it is too early for the traumatised witnesses of the attack to relive from a musical point of view the evening which ended with so many dead. Others, like the band, consider it a sign of resistance, to ‘give back some liberty’. The audience honoured the group with ovations.