An Afternoon a Month, 11 Months a Year
Clearly everyone was dying to talk about Woody Allen, because the room upstairs at Le Café de la Mairie filled up before our 3 p.m. start, a sign that “Après-Midi” was going to have a good turn-out. I didn’t take a formal count, but we filled every seat in the house.
Lisa Nesselson spoke, the in-house film critic for the English-language branch of the 24-hour news channel, France 24, as discussed in Monday’s Nouvellettre® about the “Railroading of Woody Allen.” At least that’s her opinion, and she’s a very well-researched expert on the subject.
Lisa overwhelmed us with her knowledge and it was impossible to argue with her logic. My guess is she changed a lot of opinions by the end of the session. But the part I loved the most was not so much whether the allegations against him were true or not, but how differently he is perceived and admired or condemned by the French vs the Americans. She gave many examples of how the French cherish him and his films to an extreme, including a story about how recently at the Cannes Film Festival, she almost missed seeing the screening of his new film “A Rainy Day in New York” because of a medical situation finding her in an emergency room…but once they found out why she needed to leave as soon as possible, the medics sped up their duties and got her out the door in time…all thanks to Woody!
The talk went on till well after 5 p.m. because Lisa could have gone on for much longer and no one wanted her to stop. It was fascinating and fun and she was hilariously funny, too—she has a great sense of humor and joked that she has been called “obsessed by Woody,” although she doesn’t see it that way. Still, she showed me several little orange books filled with notes all about him.
Lisa wrote in one of her emails to me, “I’ve read so many idiotic American pieces about how “Allen, in a last ditch effort to save his legacy…blah, blah, blah. These people don’t have a clue that Woody couldn’t care less about his legacy (‘Do I want to live on in posterity? No—I want to live in my apartment,’ Woody wrote) and he never watches his own films again after they’re done. He gets so much done because he couldn’t care less what other people think or say about him.”
To see the PowerPoint presentation we used as visuals during Lisa’s talk, download the PDF version here.
One of our attendees came thinking I would be talking about purchasing property, but that’s not what Après-Midi is about. We started the monthly coffee gathering in 2003 because our readers wrote often wanting to meet for a cup of coffee while visiting Paris. We realized that if I said yes to everyone, that’s all I’d be doing…drinking coffee and getting nothing done, even if lots of fun! So, we decided that having a meet-up event like this would be a great way of our readers to meet me and the others. Years later, we added a speaker to the event and ever since, they’ve gotten to be tons of fun. Even better than that, this is a way of bringing our community together, and for me to give back something to the community that has given so much to me.
I personally host it and in fact, have only missed one in all these years. This is a chance to mix and mingle with other Francophiles and expats while you learn something new. It’s always fun and it’s free—costs only what you drink or eat. During confinement and while we couldn’t meet at the café, we ran them on Zoom which opened the event to people all over the world. That was great, while it was happening, and while we’d love to offer it up like that now that we’re back to a relative normalcy, it’s simply too challenging to do both…live and on Zoom. We do prefer the live event, too—there’s an energy that takes place that can’t be duplicated on Zoom. This one was no exception and in fact, it was exploding with energy!
If you missed an event, you can view past Après-Midi recaps including this one here.
And if you’ve never attended, then it’s time to mark it on your calendar and come. No need to register in advance and it’s free. It’s the second Tuesday of the month, every month except August, always upstairs at Le Café de la Mairie at the corner of rue de Bretagne and rue des Archives in the 3rd arrondissement. Next month, Toni L. Kamins, a veteran journalist who has covered dozens of different subjects for magazines and newspapers and author of The Complete Jewish Guide to France will be speaking so don’t miss it!
A la prochaine…
The Adrian Leeds Group®
Adrian with Lisa (photo by Pamela Shandel)