A French corner in London

A COLOURFUL FABRIC artwork, a tapestry, by the artist Sonia Delaunay (1885-1979) hangs on a wall overlooking the grand staircase at the Institut français (‘IF’) in London’s South Kensington. Born in Odessa (Russian Empire) as Sarah Elievna Shtern, she spent most of her working life in Paris (France) after having studied art in both Russia and Germany.

Sonia Delaunay at Institut Francais in London

The stairs lead from the ground floor to the first. It is at this level that the IF’s main and biggest cinema, the Ciné Lumière 1, is located. This airy cinema has rows of comfortable seats each with enough legroom to satisfy even the tallest person. We had come (on the 3rd of September 2022) to watch a Spanish film called “Official Competition”, starring amongst others Penelope Cruz. Frankly, I found this much-hyped film dull, disappointing, and somewhat puerile. The plot revolves around filmmaking and competing egos. The audience is treated to too much philosophising (actually, navel contemplating) about acting and moviemaking, the content of which would be considered almost infantile by high school children.  However, the cinema’s comfortable seating made watching the film almost bearable. In the past, we have seen far better films at the Lumière, to which we will return to see other films in the future.

Apart from the poor film, the visit to the IF was fun. It was great seeing the Delaunay and we enjoyed cool drinks in the pleasant Café Tangerine on the ground floor.

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