For a million reasons, France makes an obvious tourist magnet. Whether it’s in the majestic Eiffel Tower or the iconic Louvre Museum, its breathtaking landscape or fascinating history — there’s always a good reason to visit France.

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A good place to start learning about French culture is none other than the Institut Français d’Indonésie in Menteng, Central Jakarta. Upon entering the centre, visitors are greeted with beautiful murals that aptly depict the truly breathtaking cityscape of Paris.

”As a language and cultural centre, our mission is to promote and teach French language to local people. IFI serves as a cultural bridge between the two countries where arts and cultures are celebrated through various collaborations,” says Marc Piton, Director of IFI and the Counselor for Cooperation and Cultural Action of the Embassy of France to Indonesia.

As an extension and cooperation tool of the French government, IFI focuses on three areas: culture, linguistic and science collaborations. Through these areas, the institution works to support freedom of expression and diversity.

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In addition to its Jakarta office, IFI also maintains presence in Bandung, Surabaya and Yogyakarta – cities known as cultural hubs. It’s also a strategic choice that symbolizes its intention to explore new partnerships, develop creative networks and support innovative projects among Indonesia’s burgeoning creative minds.

“Culture is very important because it represents our traditions and values. Through culture we’re able to give message of peace and strengthen the relations between France and Indonesia, and therefore, IFI welcomes all artists without exception to engage with our activities. There is no special requirement. As long as they are interested in sharing their talents with us and willing to collaborate with French artists, our door is always open,” says Piton.

Facilities and Programmes
The centre is equipped with facilities that include modern classrooms for French language learning, a library that boasts a wide selection of books, an auditorium to screen Indonesia and French movies, as well as a café where people can indulge in delectable French pastries.

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“We now have a programme called Cinemacet during which we screen various films for free in our auditorium. Instead of getting stuck in traffic for hours, we encourage people to park their cars and watch movies here while waiting for the macet to be over. In the field of education, we regularly host fairs, talk shows and presentations in a number of schools throughout Indonesia. Earlier this year, we launched a short film entitled Belajar di Perancis, which describes the life of Indonesian students in France. There are approximately 500 Indonesian students in France at the moment and we are looking for more. Hopefully this film can inspire more people to consider France as a study destination,” said Piton.

In the areas of science and technology, IFI is actively supporting various initiatives. Its most recent one is the Nusantara programme, which promotes cooperation between French and Indonesian researchers in both public and private sectors.

“The Nusantara Programme brings together Indonesian and French experts to brainstorm in order to create new innovations that benefit both countries. We believe that the more people get together, the more initiatives that can be established,” said Piton.

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This month, IFI is focusing on programmes that relate to fashion and cinematography, with upcoming plans for fashion photography exhibitions in Surabaya and Jakarta, in collaboration with YSL, film screening to comemmorate the Day of Anti Violence Against Women and shirt film week. Come 2017, expect more exciting programmes that relate to gastronomy, street arts and even more cinematography.

“We are planning to bring back the Good France culinary festival next year and we also have plans to engage industry players from the two countries in the form of a film festival. We also just finished Off the Wall Jakarta programme (see Amir Sidharta’s review on page 124), which was a French-Indonesian contemporary and urban art week that brought together ten famous street artists from France and Indonesia to combine their creativity and showcase their artwork in several locations across Jakarta. Judging from the success of that event, I think Jakarta can be the centre of street arts in Asia. Therefore, next year we will create more projects like this and work with more artists,” says Piton.

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If it’s a supporting environment you’re looking for as a creative mind, you’ll be glad to find a home at IFI. The centre invites everyone to sign up for Club IFI membership, which also offers various interesting and exclusive promotions.