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The Movie Maniacal French

I don’t know about you, but seeing a Nazi flag makes me shiver.

No, this photo isn’t from a World War II occupied Paris. There I was yesterday minding my own business, tooling down rue Vieille du Temple like most days of the week, passing any one of the magnificent “hôtels particuliers” (townhouses) that line the ancient narrow street, when suddenly the doors to the Hôtel de Rohan swung open exposing this scene.

Imagine the shock until realizing there was a camera crew in the right corner directing the well-dressed chap in black to walk quickly from the massive doors to the vintage car, get in and drive out.

The gardens of the neighboring Hôtel de Soubise from the 14th-century communicate with the Hôtel de Rohan at number 87 rue Vieille-du-Temple. Built between 1704-1712 for one of the sons of the Prince de Soubise, it contains several million documents on the history of France from the 17th-century to the Second World War. One of our past conference attendees purchased an apartment just opposite the stately structure with views on the massive doors and courtyard, so she may have been watching the filming from her living room windows at that very same moment. (For more information about these Hôtels Particuliers along with more and photos, visit

Film crews have been more prevalent on the streets than I can remember from the past. Sometimes it seems more like living on a stage set in Los Angeles than the real thing — Paris. In fact, in 2006, 730 films were produced in the City of Light compared with 660 in 2005. One French film out of every two were shot in Paris…TV fiction series, documentaries, short films, long films, educational films, commercials and publicity photos. The districts most popular for filmmakers have been (in descending order) the 8th, 16th 18th, 10th, 4th, 12th, 19th, 1st, 7th, and 20th.

Paris is attracting more foreign-made long-playing films than ever before…15 last year were produced compared with 11 in 2005, from nine different countries. Of that, the U.S. produced four. This year, the city developed a Web site for the public to easily discover the activities of the “Mission Cinéma de la Mairie de Paris” at, an organization devoted to promoting the making of films in the French capital. This destination for film professionals is a base of information and documentation to assist in the production and execution of all types of films, already showing a success by increasing the number of city contracts by five times since it went live.

It is this organization and support by the city administration under the auspices of Mayor Bertrand Delanoë and his Deputy of Culture, Christophe Girard, that has enabled producers to take advantage of such emblematic places as the Musée d’Art Moderne, Musée Carnavalet, Galliera, Petit Palais, Zadkine, Bourdelle, Hôtel d’Albret…a

nd of course, the Hôtel de Rohan.

Something else to do this month…this coming June 11 through 16, during six days, the 5th Edition of the “Festival Signes de Nuit” will show more than 100 short films and documentaries from 6 p.m. to midnight at the Cinéma L’Archipel, Cinéma MK2 Hautefeuille, Maison de l’Europe, the Goethe Institut, Fondation Suisse, Cité Universitaire, Maison de l’Italie, Cité Universitaire and others. An international jury will present three prizes to new international productions: Grand Prix, Prix de Signes, Prix de Nuit. (Visit for more information.)

The City of Light boasts of 374 cinema theaters, from 450 to 500 films shown every week, plus more than 30 millions spectators every year! In fact, nobody is more movie-maniacal than the French…and aren’t we glad?

A la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds
Editor, Parler Paris

P.S. Join us Saturday at 11 a.m. for French-English Conversation at our new central location — Lutèce Langue. Visit http://www.parlerparlor for more information.


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