A Season for Americaphiles in Paris
It’s the season of America in Paris, as I was reminded by my journalist friend, Linda Hervieux, referring to an article in Le Figaro titled , Un automne Américain.
No joke, there is much to do in the City of Light if you are an “Americaphile” as so many of the French are…just as we Americans in France are “Francophiles.”
Top of my list was the exhibition, Paris vu par Hollywood (Paris Seen by Hollywood) that opened just this past Tuesday at the Hôtel de Ville. Knowing the lines would be long to enter, particularly on a Saturday (unfortunately, the exhibitions at the City Hall are closed on Sundays), we opted to arrive at 5 p.m. thinking the line would start to dissipate as people gave up waiting for want of other things to do (and that is true). At 6:15 p.m., no one else is allowed to enter (the doors close at 7 p.m.) and by 5:30 p.m., the guards informed much of the line behind us that they didn’t have a chance of getting in.
The exhibition highlights some of the over 800 films that have been shot in Paris — the foreign city most portrayed in Hollywood cinema — with photos, film clips, drawings, posters, memorabilia, costumes and more. On a 20 meter-long screen overhead, a montage of extracts from some of the most well-known films runs continually, having everyone enthralled. Our favorite actors are there, both American and French: Audrey Hepburn, Cary Grant, Fred Astaire, Leslie Caron, Maurice Chevalier, Greta Garbo, Gene Kelly…and our favorite films, of course: American in Paris, Gigi, Charade, Midnight in Paris, Sabrina, Ratatouille…and so many others.
Really, we needed much more than the hour we allotted ourselves, so a return visit is a must, particularly since the kiosk selling books, DVDs and other collectibles from the exhibition, closed their cash registers five minutes before the clock struck 7 p.m. leaving us all in want of souvenirs.
“Festival America” took place from Thursday through Sunday in various spots in the suburban town of Vincennes. The event was punctuated by guest of honor, Nobel laureate Toni Morrison, along with other American writers such as Jennifer Egan, Nick Flynn, Gary Shteyngart, Chris Adrian, Louise Erdrich…and a host of others from the U.S. Canada, Argentina, Brazil, Chili, Mexico, Peru, Cuba, Colombia, Uruguay, Nicaragua, Guatemala and Haiti.
Morrison spoke Friday to about 500 people at the Vincennes City Hall. Hector Tobar of the Los Angeles Times reported that “Morrison responded to a host of questions from a panel of French authors and critics, including the standard, ‘What are your literary influences?’ She listed three: William Faulkner (‘Reading him, I could tell he was affected by black culture’), James Baldwin (‘He had a language that was assertive, eloquent and political, but not devoid of love’) and Gabriel García Márquez (‘I learned from him that ghosts and magic can be part of a political narrative’).
Sunday afternoon, the line to enter the “Centre Culturel Georges Pompidou” to hear her speak again, this time accompanied by Louise Erdrich, Francisco Goldman and Dinaw Mengestu, was even longer than the line to enter the city hall exhibition. Word had it that there was no chance of getting in, so we opted instead to listen to Jennifer Egan, Gary Shteyngart and John Freeman discuss “Writing About Sex” at the auditorium in the Coeur de Ville.
Shteyngart, a Jewish-American writer and author of “Super Sad True Love Story,” born in Leningrad whose work is satirical, stole the ‘show’ with his Woody Allen-ish off-the-cuff comments that even the interpreter couldn’t convey without making faces. By the laughter, one could tell who in the audience was a native English speaker and even more profound, who was Jewish and could understand his humor to the proverbial bone. (I think I was laughing loudest.)
It was a tough act to follow, but we managed to take a quick perusal of the Salon du Livre where publishers and bookshops sold books and hosted book-signings. Shakespeare & Company’s stand there was overrun with customers for their English language books, the only one among them all. Owner Sylvia Beach Whitman and her crew couldn’t work fast enough — as I watched her hold up three different versions of Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road” from which a customer could choose.
For more information and to plan on attending next year’s festival, visit Le-Salon-du-Livre.
More events we recommend coming up for Americaphiles are:
*** “Obama’s America: The Thousand Faces of America” at Dorothy’s Gallery, 27, rue Keller (11th), on until November 10th.
*** Joe Allen in Paris is opening in about three weeks at “Allen’s Market” in the covered Marché Saint-Martin (33 rue du Château D’eau, 10th, open from 9 a.m. to midnight) with American food products and brunch fare such as pancakes and Eggs Benedict. Yum!
A la prochaine…
Editor, Parler Paris
P.S. Mark your calendar for Parler Paris Après Midi October 9th when American photographer Michael Honegger will be teaching us “Eye Phoned Paris™”…capturing images of the City of Light by phone! For details, visit Parler Paris Après Midi