Paris from Dusk to Dawn
Spend a weekend in Paris and go from dusk to dawn discovering. That’s what this past weekend was like, with barely a breath of nothingness.
Thursday over a beautifully prepared lunch at La Maison des Arts et Métiers mansion on avenue d’Iéna, sponsored by the French-American Foundation, the American Action Committee and Sodexho, a list of illustrious members of the community spoke briefly before introducing Edgar Chase III, Vice President of Dillard University, New Orleans. International attorney, David McGovern, announced that there was at least one New Orleanian at each table (which turned out to be me!) and Walter Wells, past Executive Editor of the International Herald Tribune, managed to pronounce “Noo Awlins” fairly correctly before turning over the podium to Chase.
Chase is the son the “Queen of Creole Cuisine,” Leah Chase, chef and owner of New Orleans restaurant, Dooky Chase, immortalized by Ray Charles in his song “Early in the Morning Blues.” He is also a brother to Leah Chase (is she the II?), a New Orleans blues and jazz vocalist who was in Paris last spring as part of a special program sponsored by the French government (/parlerparis/issues/pparis3-4-06.html).
Chase gave us a first-hand update on post Katrina reconstruction efforts in the city of New Orleans and a look at Dillard University’s progress in recuperating since the devastation of the campus. Dillard University roots date back to 1869 as the country’s first African American liberal arts college and the campus was inundated by several feet of flood waters. I tried to hold back the tears, but couldn’t, as he talked openly about why the levees broke and how poorly assisted the city has been by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Donations to Dillard are welcome and will go to the rebuilding of the university library which was totally destroyed. For more information, contact the French-American Foundation at http://www.french-american.org
Saturday afternoon was another eye-opening event, as Judith Merians, Hollywood Entertainment Lawyer, Studio Executive and Consultant to Independent Producers for the last 30 years, clued an eager group of us on how to write a script that would sell and how to sell a script that was written. It so true…most writers write because they have something they need to say, a story to tell, an idea that must be conveyed, without understanding how to turn it into a saleable item. Lots dream of seeing their names on the silver screen and their characters come to life in technicolor, but don’t know how to get it from paper to film.
We learned about “Date” movies, “Chick Flicks” and “Niche Market” films. We learned that the story must fit the budget and that a big budget film must have a star role. We learned we must write a “log” line that sells the story in just a few words. And we learned that living in Paris can be a real “cachet” and have appeal to the producers to spotlight the writer as someone special. I walked away after three hours of all the valuable insight itchy to start working on that next great hot script! Don’t distress if you missed it…Merians takes private clients and we hope she’ll do this again next Spring for Parler Paris (write
her atmailto:[email protected]?subject=Parler_Paris_Reader for more information).
That night, we geared up for Paris’ all-night cultural extravaganza that has grown over the last five years — La Nuit Blanche. We didn’t have to go further than Le Marais to see some of the finest exhibitions. The crowds on the streets and in the cafés were shoulder to shoulder, but not too uncomfortable. The weather was perfectly cool and the rains were held back.
In the nave of Notre Dame des Blancs-Manteaux, a church from the early 18th-century I’d never visited before on rue des Francs Bourgeois, Cuban artist Carlos Garaïcoa videoed candles of various shapes and sizes burning, dripping, glowing while onlookers’ faces were lit by the soft light and could see both the candles and themselves on a large screen nearby.
At Place Stravinsky, a film by young directors Fabi Lepeltier et Abnousse Shalmani was projected on the immense wall for all to see and hear while at its foot, graffiti artists spray painted on white walls. There was a long line to enter the Hôtel de Ville to hear well-known recording stars Sébastien Tellier and Xavier Veilhan play while out front the media was interviewing event organizers.
The most amazing work of art we saw was at the Cloître des Billettes on rue des archives — “Lumière en Aids” by Dimitri Parimeros and Laurent Prat. A giant octopus seven meters high made of optical fibers in whites and red were inspired by what sick cells look like under the microscope.
My aging body wouldn’t allow me to stay out past 1 a.m., but I’m sure many have the stamina to while away the hours going from one exhibition to another. it was so addictive and delightful! The success of La Nuit Blanche is world renowned, now that so many other cities have adopted it or will be hosting it soon — Brussels, Rome, Madrid, Montreal, Tel Aviv, Toronto, Istanbul, Riga, Rio de Janeiro, Lisbon, Tokyo and yes New York!
And now…to catch up on a little sleep.
A la prochaine…