A fantastic festival... so be sure to check it out

Director of Alliance Francaise de Cork, Jean-Christophe Trentinella, chats to us as the Cork French Film Festival continues
A fantastic festival... so be sure to check it out

FOCUS ON THE ENVIRONMENT: Director of Alliance Française de Cork, Jean-Christophe Trentinella, and Bernie Connolly of the Cork Environmental Forum. A special environmental panel discussion takes place at the Gate Cinema tomorrow, March 7, after the screening of The Time Of Forests, as part of the Cork French Film Festival.

Tell us about yourself;

I have always found that trying to pin down who I am as a person is a difficult undertaking. I guess this relates to a fundamental difference between French and English.

In English, you have the concept of still life, which captures a moment in a continuum. It is very poetic. In French we have the ‘nature morte’, which literaly means dead nature.

No wonder we are not too keen, the French people — I am not using the royal ‘we’ — to define ourselves because it is the equivalent of being dead! So, provided that we are constantly becoming, I will try to tell you a few things about myself without having the impression to write my obituary.

Obviously I am French. When I say obviously, it is not actually obvious when you look at me. I actually do not look French at all and I was even mistaken several times for an American in a French airport.

Despite my repeated attempts to speak French, they would insist to speak to me in English. I did not want to offend them so I ended up playing along. And yet, as soon as I open my mouth, it is obvious I am French. French people do sound very similar when they speak English. We sound a bit like a caricature really.

I was born to migrant parents who established themselves in southern France. So I grew up with the influence of these different cultures, which probably had a huge bearing on my interest in travel and my life choices. I have been travelling a lot, first by myself, now as a family. It is interesting to notice how drawn I can be, I suppose, to certain aspects of the culture of the countries in which I have lived. Certain things would resonate while others could be absolutely off-putting. For instance, I love how Italians are kind in their relationships to children, whereas I am appalled by their driving. The French drive somehow better but they could most certainly learn a few things in regards to patience with children from the Italians. It is a little too soon to be able to pinpoint what I like and do not like about Ireland!

Where were you born?

In Montpellier, southern France. It is a gorgeous, historic city, ideally located, with beautiful countryside. It is also one of the fastest growing cities in France and it has changed a lot. I no longer feel at home there, unfortunately. I guess I have changed a lot too.

Where do you live?

At the present moment, we live in Cork. And I have to say that we have not seen much of Ireland at all yet. When the weather will be better I will feel more adventurous, I have to admit that I do not like the rain very much.


We have a wide and extended family, spread out across continents. Unfortunately, we do not get to see each other very much.

Best friend?

A friendship of more than 30 years and going.

Earliest childhood memory?

I seem to remember my childhood dreams more vividly than my memories. I remember trying to learn to fly in dreams as a child.

Jean-Christophe Trentinella, Directeur of Alliance Francaise de Cork and Aoife Healy pictured at the announcement that the 30th Cork French Film Festival, running until March 10.Picture: Clare Keogh 
Jean-Christophe Trentinella, Directeur of Alliance Francaise de Cork and Aoife Healy pictured at the announcement that the 30th Cork French Film Festival, running until March 10.Picture: Clare Keogh 

Person you most admire?

There are a few competitors here but I would have to say the 14th Dalai Lama. I remember a quote which I falsly attributed to the Dalaï Lama and which was, in fact, by Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Sow a thought and you reap an action; sow an act and you reap a habit; sow a habit and you reap a character; sow a character and you reap a destiny.”

The Dalaï Lama has plenty good quotes of his own.

Person who most irritates you?

Let’s not get political here.

Who would you like to see as Minister for Finance and why?

I would rather appoint a Minister of Poetry than a Minister of Finance.

Where was your most memorable holiday?

A family vacation in Venice. I expected Venice to be beautiful, just not that beautiful. I would like to go back again.

Favourite TV programme?

I gave up TV 20 years ago when the director of the main French channel declared with a blend of candour and cynicism that is job was to create programs to sell “available brain time” to advertisers.

Favourite radio show?

I used to love listening to Michel Onfray, a contemporary French philosopher.

Your signature dish if cooking?

A sabji, a vegetarian Indian dish which I leaned in Australia. After some time my friends would ask me to please do something else.

Favourite restaurant?

A restaurant in San Miniato, Italy. It is a family butchery and a restaurant. Their cured meats are simply amazing and the view is from a movie.

Last book you read?

I, unfortunately, have no longer the time to read so I listen to books instead. The last book I listened to was 10% Happier.

Best book you read?

The Criticon by Baltazar Gracian. It is a manual to learn to live from a 16th century Jesuit. A very odd and interesting book.

Last album/CD/download you bought?

Rivers of Happiness by Ekrem.

Favourite song?

We Are All In This Together by Ben Lee

One person you would like to see in concert?

Ravi Shankar, but I am too late.

Do you have a pet?

No but I am definitely a cat person.

Morning person or night owl?

Morning owl?

Your proudest moment?

Each time my daughter learns or does something new. I was amazed last week at the table for dinner when she contributed for the first time to our family discussions and life plans.

Spendthrift or saver?

Something in between.

Name one thing you would improve in your area in which you live?

Homelessness. It is too prévalent around us.

What makes you happy?

Being in the moment.

How would you like to be remembered?

With a smile.

What else are you up to at the moment?

I am currently very busy with the 30th Cork French Film Festival. This is a fantastic festival, with 20 of the best contemporary French movies of 2018 and 2019. It got underway on March 3 and runs until March 10 at the Gate Cinema in Cork. You can check it out at www.corkfrenchfilmfestival.com

I am also a certified mindfulness teacher trained in Search Inside Yourself, a program in leadership, emotional intelligence and mindfulness, born at Google. I am developing my business to it to organisations and create thriving cultures and workplaces. I will deliver a talk in Cork and in Dublin in the Mind-Body Experience Festival.


The 30th Cork French Film Festival started last Sunday, March 3, and continues all week, culminating on Sunday March 10.

A total of 20 films will be shown over the week with a total of 40 nominations for the 2019 Cesar Awards Ceremony. Movies include themes of unity, triumph over adversity, and love.

This year the Cork French Film Festival is celebrating 30 years.

The theme of this year’s festival is ‘Ensemble’ (Together) and organisers say having this theme aims to explore the various ways in which we are interconnected, in which we try to address life’s challenges and make sense of life together in this era of uncertainty.

The closing film is Cyrano De Bergerac which stars Gérard Depardieu, AS a romantic poet cursed by an impossibly large nose. This version is a newly restored print of the original classic film.

For more details see: www.corkfrenchfilmfestival.com

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