For engineers and other precise-minded individuals who may want to know exactly when Festival International de Louisiane actually begins, it may be a bit hard to pin down.

Festival, while concrete in so many ways, including its selection as Best World Music Festival in the About.com World Music Reader's Choice Awards and the way it lusciously overwhelms all five senses, can also be a tad abstract as far as when it officially opens.

There was the official kick-off party this past Thursday at Jefferson Street Pub. It served as a fundraiser, too, but for all intents and purposes, it was the launch of the 26th annual Festival.

Festival, of course, also gets under way tonight with the free film series, Soirées du Cinema, at Cite des Arts. The film Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life starts 6:30 p.m.

Cite, an Off Jefferson venue, is located at 109 Vine St. at W. Third Street. You'll know you're getting warm when you face the Evangeline Hotel on Jeffferson Street. Just walk down Vine, and Cite is on your left.

Gainsbourg is a glimpse at the life of French singer Serge Gainsbourg, from growing up in 1940s Nazi-occupied Paris through his successful song-writing years in the 1960s. He died in 1991 at the age of 62. A live musical performance follows with Philippe Billeaudeaux, Sunny Duval and friends.

A world premiere of the documentary Water on the Road is Tuesday, same time, same place, same deal. Water is about Isle de Jean Charles, a small community made up entirely of members of the Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw and Houma Indian tribes. They are optimistic even though natural and man-made obstacles conspire against their wishes to keep their homeland and identity. A Q&A with director/writer/producer John Sharp follows.

The series continues through Saturday at The French Press. Go here for complete schedule.

Also getting under way Tuesday is Rhythms & Roots: Celebrating the Musical Bridge Between Cultures. It's a musical series presented by Festival and will be held at Blue Moon Saloon, 215 E. Convent St. The series, which runs through Sunday, kicks off with Rufus Jagneaux with Warren Storm and Pat Breaux at 9  p.m. There's a $10 cover for this. Go here for schedule.

On Wednesday, Louisiana music from the Festival stage Scene Malibu (Jefferson near Convent) gets going with Terry & the Zydeco Bad Boys and Brian Jack & the Zydeco Gambles, 6:30 p.m. and 8:15, respectively.

So, Festival is up and running. Right? Well, yes but is it official? After all, Opening Ceremonies for Festival International de Louisiane are set for Thursday, 7:15 p.m., on Scene Popeyes International.

But for another reference for when Festival begins, go to Festival's website here and check out the Countdown to festival on the top right hand corner. Today at 12:07 p.m. is at 00 Months, 00 Weeks, 02 Days, 04 Hours (and counting).

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