Posts Tagged 'film'

Paris Summer Update


I’ve already fallen off duty in documenting my forays in the City of Light. Turns out I’m too busy relishing my time in Paris to sit down and report on it. Sometimes life is to live!

The days are fun and full (how could I forget how much I adore the long nights, light still in the sky until 11 pm? And my, it has been many months since I described my days as “fun”).

Shall I tell you about attending a quirky film event called Kinoma at the National Library of France (Bibliothèque nationale de France)?

We saw some excellent short films, sat through a random sketch about dating (I think), awkwardly congregated in the lobby (the audience was instructed to leave the cinema while the film jury deliberated and invited to dance while DJ Metrosex spun tunes in the meantime. True story! DJ Metrosex!). Then we returned, awards were handed out and accepted as informally as if we were in someone’s living room. I loved the casual vibe.

At one point, after a long discourse by one of the invited guests, Ericka and I turned to each other and mouthed: this is so French! It was almost as if we’d forgotten how much this is a country of talking and debate. (Bonus tidbit for long-time blog readers: this is the same Ericka who received her doctorate in French cinema by defending a 600-page dissertation in French many years ago. She is also now based in the States but back for her Paris summer. We are obviously both discussing the possibility of returning).

Grand prix awards ceremony! (Photo courtesy of Kinoma).

Anyway, it was all random and interesting and really wonderful. These kinds of unexpected, offbeat experiences are my jam.

Other awesomeness! One of my besties (who took over hosting my writing salon, WIP) celebrated her birthday with a treasure hunt, petanque at Place Dauphine, and a fete on Pont Neuf. I met the beautiful new baby of another. There have been picnics at the bassin near the Bastille, coffee along the canal, and above all, time with my beau and long catch-ups with good friends.

It’s been wild how easy it’s been to slip right back in. That ease has been delightful and is obviously a comfort that I feel at home. Though on the other hand it makes me wonder: have I not grown at all since I left? I thought I might be further along on a new path. Wasn’t the idea to discover who I am away from Paris? What’s my identity when it’s not tied to the City of Light?

But perhaps that’s missing the point. I will always be tied to this city, it will always be a part of who I am. And this journey of discovery is a constant, a lifelong pursuit. Always ongoing, always unfolding, always evolving.

Last week, France endured a heatwave, with the hottest night recorded since 1872 (!) The canicule collided with Fête de la Musique, an all-night musical festival in the streets (and bars and churches and everywhere). Some experience this as a magical evening and others think that, particularly when paired with scorching heat, it approximates some version of a very noisy hell. But it falls on the solstice and is a true marker of Paris summer.

Continue reading ‘Paris Summer Update’


Lost in Frenchlation

The screening room at Studio 28. Photo courtesy of Lost in Frenchlation.


I arrived in Paris, just in time for a heatwave and the last round of legislative voting.

I also finally made it to an event I’ve been invited to for well over a year.

Rarely do I make plans for the same day I land (jetlag, anyone?), but the evening’s opportunity was too good to pass up.

The garden tea room at Cinema Studio 28. Photo courtesy of Lost in Frenchlation.

Lost in Frenchlation has a simple mission: bring renowned French films to a broader audience by screening French films with English subtitles.

The Franco-Australian pair behind Lost in Frenchlation, Manon and Matt. Photo courtesy of Lost in Frenchlation.

When you think about it, the idea makes total sense. Film is such an important part of French culture and there are so many international folks in Paris. Unless you’re completely fluent, it can be difficult to follow a movie in your non-native tongue. Lost in Frenchlation allows easier access to current French films, as well as providing a convivial cocktail before or after for a full social night.

Events are held at Studio 28, the oldest screening room in Paris.

I was happy to get a chance to check out LIF, whose popularity has grown quickly. They were right about there being quite a market for their offerings! (Lost in Translation is currently nominated for “best reoccurring event in Paris” by Expatriates Magazine. The young organization had also just held their first event in London the previous night.)

I admit it was the specific film and event that had me particularly intrigued and gave me the energy to fight the fatigue upon my arrival to attend.

On Friday, June 16, the film on tap was Le Concours, a documentary about the strenuous entrance exam to La Fémis, one of the most prestigious film schools in the world. The director of the film, Claire Simon, was on hand afterward for a Q&A.

The film’s trailer, (only available in French – see why Lost in Frenchlation is needed?)

Le Concours was great – I could do a whole separate post about the movie itself! But needless to say it’s quite an experience to get a truly inside look at the highly competitive selection process of such an institution (A thousand candidates applied for 60 spots).

A clip from the film – *with* English subtitles!

The film lends itself to all kinds of juicy questions about art, subjectivity, inequality, and elitism. (Simon made a compelling remark in the Q&A about France “constantly recreating a gentry” – whoa, we could dig into that one for ages!).

Continue reading ‘Lost in Frenchlation’

They Don’t Make Them Like They Used To

I grew up watching old films. (See my post about my master plan to host American Movie Classics as a kid). Film noir was a favorite.

When I did my crash course of French before moving here, a large part of my self-education involved watching French films and reading the transcripts at the same time. I was simply “opening my ear” to the language; I didn’t understand a dang thing! But what a pleasurable introduction.

Somehow I missed this one: Ascenseur pour l’échafaud or “Elevator to the Gallows” in its US release. This was Louis Malle’s first film (he was only 25!).

If this trailer doesn’t make you want to watch it immediately, well…I will still love you, but be forever confused as to how in the world this does not look awesome to you.

Hear that lonely trumpet?

That is MILES DAVIS playing an original score. And get this: he IMPROVISED the music while watching the film.

Continue reading ‘They Don’t Make Them Like They Used To’

“Paris Movie Walks” Winners!

I’m pleased to announce the winners of a free copy of Paris Movie Walks: Congrats Jen, Chris, and Susan!

And thanks to all of you for the great movie suggestions. I have many to add to my viewing list now!

It’s not a movie, but next up I’ll have a more visual post for you. Have a great week and stay tuned!

Paris Movie Walks – Free Giveaway!

I count myself lucky to have found home in two of the world’s best “cinematic” cities. Both New York and Paris have been captured on the silver screen myriad times. The thrill of recognition never fades for me. Each shot of a corner, street, or landmark that I know in real life makes my heart beat a little faster when I see it on film.

Author Michael Schürmann’s Paris Movie Walks: Ten Guided Tours Through The City of Lights! Camera! Action! offers detailed information for those of us who want to live the location, be on the set. Ten detailed itineraries follow in the footsteps of some of the most famous films that use Paris as backdrop.

Though is Paris ever just backdrop? We know it’s actually a star.

The author does, too, as he meticulously maps his way around the City of Light, pointing out everything from the major monuments to hidden gems that have appeared on the screen and putting them in cinematic context.

It’s hard to decide which the book makes you want to do more – watch all of the movies or take a stroll around Paris.

The book is really a great marriage of the two.

Besides specific and straightforward information on the movie locations, Schürmann also drops in short, useful sections like “May ’68: The Modern French ‘Revolution’” and “The Story Behind Sacre Coeur” to add to an already informative guide.

The publisher has offered to give away free copies of Paris Movie Walks to three lucky blog readers.

To enter for a chance to win, leave a comment below or sign up to receive this blog by email if you haven’t already. Feel free to let us know your favorite French film, though a simple “I want to win” is always acceptable, too.

Entries are open through Sunday, May 29. I’ll announce winners on Monday, May 30.

Good luck!

For more information on the book and author, check out the Paris Movie Walks website. Word is that a Smartphone app for a few of the walks is also in the works!

American (Movie Classics) in Paris

Aerosol Hitchcock

What did you want to be when you grew up?

I had a variety of aspirations – and as much of a plan to realize them as my 8-year old’s mind could devise.

I wanted to be an actress, so I enrolled in summer acting classes, decided I’d go to Yale Drama School and tried to discern if I were more suited to film or the stage.

I also wanted to “save the world” a la Ghandi or MLK but I didn’t yet know my big cause. Maybe my travels as a National Geographic photographer would help me find my calling, I reasoned.

Writer must have been in there somewhere, too, though I never named it (I had trouble calling myself a writer even then.) It was nothing I could explain, but I much preferred sitting behind my mother’s electronic typewriter tapping out stories than running around the yard to play. (I also started reading Stephen King novels in first grade – yeah, I was kind of a weird kid).

My most well thought-out plan, however, was to host American Movie Classics.

Yay, little arthouse movie theater

Who knows how I first got hooked on old movies, but from the time I could see I sat spellbound by AMC. There was a time when I watched at least one movie a day, and I never thought anything missing from a good black and white flick (not even color). Screwball comedies, film noir – these were some of the most beloved images from my childhood.

This love also brought with it my first feelings of jealousy (shame these are so often paired). Why did Bob Dorian get to introduce the films? How did someone get such a plum job?

It came to me that I should really be the one in that chair.

I’d make a really great AMC host for several pertinent reasons, my imaginary letter to the classic film channel began (did I know the word pertinent when I was 8? Ok, maybe not).

Not only did I have a vast knowledge of classic films, but I could also help the station expand their viewership. How many young, mixed-race kids did they have working for them? None, I supposed. Think of it! I could convince whole new demographics of the coolness of classic films. I’d be the new face of our film heritage.

I’m not sure why I never followed up on this career path – I think I was onto something.

Action Ecoles, purveyor of classic film

I was recently reminded of my youthful obsession last week when I stumbled across Action Ecoles in the 5th. The sign stopped by heart – an Alfred Hitchcock film everyday in version originale! Hitchcock is my man. I think I would die of grief if I ever had to watch his films dubbed.

For any of you other old movie fans, Cinema Action might just be what you’re looking for. Two locations – 4 Rue Christine, 6eme and 23 Rue des Ecoles, 5eme – and what looks like a pretty kick-ass rotation of classic films.

I haven’t been to either yet, but it makes me happy just knowing that I can. Hooray for serendipitous discoveries.

Check out their website for more details. (I bemoan my advancing years if only because I’m not eligible for the Carte Cine Passion which lets those under 26 in for 3 euros per screening. The Carte Fidelite also looks like a good deal, though – 45 euros for 10 screenings. Glad to know there’s something for us old folks).

What did you want to be when you grew up? (Did you follow the dream?)

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paris (im)perfect?

Sion Dayson is paris (im)perfect. Writer, dreamer, I moved to France on – no exaggerating – a romantic whim. As you can imagine, a lot can go wrong (and very right!) with such a (non)plan. These are the (im)perfect stories that result.

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