When Andrew Shemin, an American filmmaker living in Paris since 2001, contacted me to share the trailer for a new documentary of Paris he recently shot, I was interested not only because I love getting to know more of the creative community in the city, but also because of the way he described the impetus for his film.
“My motivation to make this documentary came out of the fact that I moved here because I was in love with Paris from a very early age, and yet after living here for so many years, I was starting to feel disillusioned in some ways…I made this documentary to get some images that can share the way I feel with an audience.”
You know me; I had to ask more. It’s one of my obsessions, of course: this complicated relationship I think a lot of us have with Paris. Loving it fiercely, but experiencing its flaws. Differentiating between the fantasy and the real City of Light.
When I asked Andrew to elaborate on his feelings about the city, he sent me this:
“My family came to Paris on a family vacation when I was 10 years old and I fell in love with it during that trip. I loved how different it was from where I grew up in Arizona, and the mystery of people speaking a foreign language; I wanted to speak it, too.
I came to feel disillusioned in some ways after living in a very touristy street in Montmartre. It just felt weird to see all these temporary visitors in a place where I was supposed to be living a life. People talk about the “museumification” of a city like Paris…and I was starting to feel like I was one of the museum pieces.
In the documentary I wanted to explore the nature of the city of Paris. With all its history on display and [the] busy tourism industry, how much of Paris is really a city of today, and how much is a museum to be preserved for the world in photographs and postcards? The question of my personal disillusionment became a question of how much of Paris really is intentionally presented as an illusion, whether for the tourism industry or to preserve an image past glory.
Making the film brought me the realization that Paris is a very special and beautiful city, and something the world treasures, but I feel there is a split between the Paris that the world sees and that the world wants to see and the Paris where Parisians live and that tourists either don’t have the time to see, or choose to ignore most of the time. The documentary presents Paris without any commentary and the images alone are presented for the viewer to decide what they think of what they see.”
Andrew has finished shooting his series of “moving postcards” as he calls them (I like the term!) and is now in the stage of production where he’s looking to raise money for an original score to accompany the footage.
If you want to help out with his Kickstarter campaign (ending December 1) to finish the film, you can head over to his Kickstarter page to donate or to find out more. (Also to watch the trailer unencumbered! WordPress doesn’t seem to understand Kickstarter code!)
As for me, I’m liking this run of hearing the thoughts of other Paris-based artists who grapple with the city’s complexity. (See the interview with Alexander Maksik last post for another description of Paris I found very resonant).
Best of luck, Andrew!