Philippe Bouler

In mid-December, parts of Pasteur, Nam Ky Khoi Nghia and Le Duan will be closed off for what is potentially the most spectactular event in the recent history of this city.

Produced by ‘Mr. Festival’ himself, the well-known Philippe Bouler, together with the French Consulate, the Ho Chi Minh City authorities and French-based laser show specialists, Spectaculaires, Allumeurs d’Images will see the Reunification Palace transformed into a 3D smorgasbord of illuminations, dancing to sound effects and live music.


Based on laser shows that Spectaculaires have produced at places like Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, and some of Europe’s most impressive buildings, thousands will be in attendance at an event that marks the end of the French-Vietnam friendship year and the celebrations of 40 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries.


Word speaks to Philippe Bouler in the run-up to Allumeurs d’Images. The former director of the annual Hue Festival, Bouler has been working in Vietnam for over 30 years.


You've been organising festivals for the French government in Vietnam since 1984. What are your best memories? What problems have you encountered? What successes have you had?


I have so many great memories that it’s hard for me to pick any. Those great memories are always related to the incredible people that I’ve met here in Vietnam — Trinh Cong Son, Minh Hanh, Dong Tuong, Le Cat Trong Ly, Quang & Minh and many more. Those people changed my life.


I’ve encountered a lot of problems, but that’s the rule of the game. It’s for me to adapt myself to Vietnam and not for Vietnam to adapt to me.


Many times I think I’ve had successes. I could talk about Laurent Garnier — his concerts in Hue and the music he made for Minh Hanh’s fashion shows — and Francis Cabrel. But I hope that the greatest success will be the show to come at the Reunification Palace.


What can the audience expect from Allumeurs d'Images? When will the exact festival take place?

I think the project at the Reunification Palace will be something that will really surprise people. This kind of show has never been seen before in Vietnam. It’s spectacular and totally free to the public. I have no doubts that Saigonese will find it very interesting. From 7pm to 11pm every evening, Dec. 13, Dec. 14 and Dec. 15, there will be eight shows. Every show will last 15 minutes.


What complications are you having to overcome with this festival?

This cultural event was quite hard in its conception. The images were created in France, the music in Spain and Vietnam. We had to work together very tightly to create the magical harmony.

For the rest, I have to thank the direction of the Reunification Palace and the People’s Committee of Ho Chi Minh City, who have helped us a lot from day one. In the years since I have been coming to Vietnam, I have never been as well supported as I have been with this project. I am very happy to work with all the city services and the Reunification Palace.


How will the illuminations at the Reunification Palace be unique?

You will see with your own eyes!


Allumeurs d'Images will take place every night from Friday Dec. 13 to Sunday Dec. 15 at The Reunification Palace, from 7pm to 11pm. Entrance is free. If you’re trying to drive past the building and get held up in traffic or have to make a detour, now you know why

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