An unusual look at Paris

Many faces

The two-day documentary film festival was a window to Paris, which continuers to capture the imagination of many. Gaelle Benacchio, the cultural intern also gave a small overview about each documentary.

The first day began with screening of  Sur les toits de Paris (On the Roofs of Paris), a 55-minute documentary by Olivier Lassu. The unusual documentary explored the rooftops of Parisian buildings through the testimonies of people who work on them. Chimney sweeps, roofers, and artists speak of their experiences and the special place a rooftop holds in their lives, thereby providing a new portrait to Paris.  

The documentary, comprising interesting characters and a commentary read by actor Philippe Torreton, was a deeply engaging affair and kept the audience interested throughout. The documentary inspires a new way of living and sharing urban spaces. It finds relevance in cities that are crammed.

However, the documentary finds a connect with India as rooftops here have always been one of the most frequented places in a household. Sleeping on the rooftop is a common social activity here. Olivier also tries to connect some kind of mysticism and  adventure to the rooftops through abstract dance moves interspersed in the narrative.

The highly romanticised version is well-executed and leaves one amused. The second documentary for the day was Blanche Nuit à Paris (‘All-Nighter in Paris’), a 54-minute-documentary by Jérôme Caza and  Arnaud Ngatcha. The documentary revolved around the first annual all-night arts festival in Paris, called ‘White Night’, held in 2002 and initiated by the then mayor.

It showcased performances in diverse venues of the capital. The documentary following a group of onlookers and the organizers, reproduces the reactions of the people and festive mood of the festival. The second day was an equally fascinating affair, and began with the documentary, Jusqu’au dernier saltimbanque (‘Up to the Last Street Acrobat’) by Laurent Canches.

The film is about street artists who have been working in the plaza in front of Beaubourg since 1970 and the role an ‘empty square’ plays in a neighbourhood. It was followed by Au fin Moka by Boris Joseph, is the story of two old women. One is Georgette, the owner of a small French bistro Au fin Moka, located at the foot of the Montmartre Hill, and the other is Fernande, a regular at the place. The narrative revolving around their experiences and opinions was a delight to watch.

Priya Naidu, a member of the audience, appreciating the documentaries said, “I really liked ‘On the Roofs of Paris’. It was a very unusual and different look at Paris. I liked the fact that how people still wanted to connect with nature in the cities.”

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