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Never-ending Film Festival

Perhaps one of the great unsung glories of Paris is its plethora of movie theaters. But it’s not the sheer number that overwhelms me as much as the vast choice of film titles. Picking out a movie in Paris is like going to the biggest candy shop in the world. I’d be willing to wager that Paris, if it doesn’t offer the most varied programming of international films (in their original version) on any given day of the week, compared to any city in the world you choose, it has to be one of the top cities when it comes to daily film screenings. Any international film buffs out there who would like to contest my guess, please do so!

Meanwhile here as an example of some of the choices available for big screen viewing this week in Paris: Battleship Potemkin (1925) Sergei Eisenstein; Alexander Nevski (1938) Eisenstein; Bicycle Thieves (1948) Vittoria de Sica; Russian Ark (2002)Alexandre Sokourov; Paris Qui Dort (1923)Rene Clair;
Pickpocket (1959) Robert Bresson; Blow Up (1967) Antonioni.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the myriad of festivals, hommages, and retrospectives that you may attend on any given day in Paris. In addition to the classics, you’ll find this week in Paris (October 24-30th, 2007) a film festival of Chinese animation at the Lincoln Theater, an hommage to Deborah Kerr at the Filmotheque Quarter Latin 18 bis, hommage to Gabriel Garcia Marquez at the Latina, Hats Off to Audrey Hepburn at the Cinema des Cineastes 99, hommage to Serge Reggiani at Le Champo 16, Festival Fassbinder at the Accattone, Festival Pasolini at the Accattone, Festival du Cinema Kurde at the Filmotheque. With such choices as this, one might choose to forego a trek to the Cinematheque Francaise to see ‘Hell in the Pacific’ (1968) John Booman or D.W. Griffith’s Battle of the Sexes (1928).

For foreigners visiting or living in Paris, going to the movies can be a respite from the daily language challenge. French cinema buffs understand the value of viewing films in the original language (listed in the Pariscope guide and on theater billboards as V.O. meaning ‘original version’).

VF or French version usually appears for recent films after the original version has been screened.
So, if you’re Chinese, Korean, Kurdish, Russian, Italian, Spanish, Japanese, American, British, Hindi, etc, etc., there’s a good chance you can catch your favorite film director’s release in your mother tongue. Let’s face it. John Wayne speaking French would be hard to handle.

When you pick up your copy of Pariscope at any newspaper stand or kiosque, be sure to note the dates listed directly underneath the Pariscope headline. Pariscope is issued weekly, from Wednesday to Wednesday. Also, keep in mind that many ‘reprises’ i.e. ‘reruns’ may have a one-day, one-time screening. Once you’ve located the film you want to see, you can find the theater address by noting the number following the theater’s name. Example: L’Arlequin 25.
Flip over to the section ‘Cinema/Salles de Paris’ i.e. Cinema/Paris Theaters.
Theaters are divided according to arrondissement. Each theater is numbered. You’ll find that l’Arlequin is located in the 6th arrondissement at 76, rue de Rennes. Metro St. Sulpice. Here, you’ll find the film screening times and the cost. (I’ve noted this particular theater because it happens to be one of my favorites – although we don’t get there as often as I’d like – it’s not quite walking distance, but the ambiance and the theater design will get you in to the movie mood).

This week (and the week is not yet over, so I may still get to see the Battleship Potemkin), I saw a new release ‘Never Forever’ (2006) Directed by Gina Kim with Vera Farmiga, Ha Jung-woo and David McInnis.

If for no other reason you go to see this film, you need to see the very last frame. Vera Farmiga deserves an Oscar for that last shot – and maybe the person behind the camera deserves an Oscar also. Why am I currently rhapsodizing on all that is Korean (and particularly Korean cinema)? In the aftermath of a three day whirlwind tour of South Korea last month, I am still agog.

Those Parisians and expats who are constantly in search of secrets to the art of fine living NEED to become acquainted with this extraordinary country. Okay, my ‘raving’ is back under control. Never, Forever certainly won’t give you more than an inkling about the rich layers of Korean culture – but the filmmaker’s ability to capture the essence of love – speaks volumes.

See Never, Forever – and catch up on your film classics in Paris.