Paris, je t'aime
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Paris, je t'aime is a 2006 film starring an ensemble cast of actors of various nationalities including American, British and French. The title translates as "Paris, I love you". The two-hour film consists of eighteen short films set in different arrondissements. The 21 directors include Walter Salles, Alfonso Cuarón, Tom Tykwer, Gus Van Sant, Wes Craven, Alexander Payne, Gurinder Chadha and Joel and Ethan Coen.
The film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival on 18 May, opening the Un Certain Regard selection. It had its Canadian premiere at the Toronto Film Festival on 10 September and its U.S. premiere in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on 9 April 2007.First Look Pictures acquired the North American rights, and the film opened in the United States on 4 May 2007.
Initially, twenty short films representing the twenty arrondissements of Paris were planned, but two of them (the XVe arrondissement, directed by Christoffer Boe, and the XIe arrondissement, by Raphaël Nadjari) were not included in the final film because they could not be properly integrated into it. Each arrondissement is followed by a few images of Paris; these transition sequences were written by Emmanuel Benbihy and directed by Benbihy with Frédéric Auburtin. Including Benbihy, there were 22 directors involved in the finished film.
The 18 arrondissements are:
- Montmartre (XVIIIe arrondissement) — by French writer-director Bruno Podalydès. A man (played by Podalydès himself) parks his car in a neighborhood and muses about how the women passing by his car all seem to be "taken". Then a woman passerby (Florence Muller) faints near his car, and he comes to her aid.
- Quais de Seine (Ve arrondissement) — made by the husband-and-wife team of American screenwriter Paul Mayeda Berges and Indian-British director Gurinder Chadha. A young man (Cyril Descours), hanging out with two friends who taunt all women who walk by, strikes up a friendship with a young Muslim woman (Leïla Bekhti).
- Le Marais (IVe arrondissement) — by American writer-director Gus Van Sant. A young male customer (Gaspard Ulliel) finds himself attracted to a young printshop worker (Elias McConnell) and tries to explain that he believes the man to be his soulmate, not realizing that he speaks little French. Marianne Faithfull also appears briefly in the film.
- Tuileries (Ier arrondissement) — by American writer-directors Joel and Ethan Coen. A comic film in which an American tourist (Steve Buscemi) waiting at the Tuileries station becomes involved in the conflict between a young couple (Axel Kiener and Julie Bataille) after he breaks the cardinal rule of avoiding eye contact with people on the Paris Metro.
- Loin du 16e (XVIe arrondissement; literally: "far from the 16th") — by Brazilian writer-directors Walter Salles and Daniela Thomas. A young woman (Catalina Sandino Moreno) sings a Spanish lullaby ("Que Linda Manito") to her baby before leaving it in a daycare. She then takes an extremely long commute to the home of her wealthy employer (whose face is not seen), where she sings the same lullaby to her employer's baby.
- Porte de Choisy (XIIIe arrondissement) — directed by Australian director Christopher Doyle and written by Doyle with Gabrielle Keng and Kathy Li. A comic film in which a beauty products salesman (Barbet Schroeder) makes a call on a Chinatown salon run by a woman (Li Xin) who proves to be a tough customer.
- Bastille (XIIe arrondissement) — by Spanish writer-director Isabel Coixet. Prepared to leave his marriage for a much younger lover (Leonor Watling), a man (Sergio Castellitto) instead decides to stay with his wife (Miranda Richardson) after she reveals a terminal illness - and rediscovers the love he once felt for her.
- Place des Victoires (IIe arrondissement) — by Japanese writer-director Nobuhiro Suwa. A mother (Juliette Binoche), grieving over the death of her little boy (Martin Combes), is comforted by a magical cowboy (Willem Dafoe).
- Tour Eiffel (VIIe arrondissement) — a live action film written and directed by French animator Sylvain Chomet. A boy tells how his parents, both mime artists (Paul Putner and Yolande Moreau), meet in prison and fall in love.
- Parc Monceau (XVIIe arrondissement) — by Mexican writer-director Alfonso Cuarón. An older man (Nick Nolte) and younger woman (Ludivine Sagnier) meet for an arrangement that a third person ('Gaspard'), who is close to the woman, may not approve of. It is eventually revealed that the young woman is his daughter, and Gaspard is her baby. The film was shot in a single continuous shot. When the characters walk by a video store, several posters of movies by the other directors of Paris, je t'aime are visible in the window.
- Quartier des Enfants Rouges (IIIe arrondissement) — by French writer-director Olivier Assayas. An American actress (Maggie Gyllenhaal) procures some exceptionally strong hashish from a dealer (Lionel Dray).
- Place des fêtes (XIXe arrondissement) — by German writer-director Oliver Schmitz. An African man (Seydou Boro), dying from a stab wound in the Place des fêtes asks a woman paramedic (Aïssa Maïga) for a cup of coffee. It is then revealed that he had fallen in love at first sight with her some time previously. By the time she remembers him, and has received the coffee, he has passed.
- Pigalle (IXe arrondissement) — by American writer-director Richard LaGravenese. An aging couple (Bob Hoskins and Fanny Ardant) act out a fantasy argument for a prostitute in order to keep the spark in their relationship.
- Quartier de la Madeleine (VIIIe arrondissement) — by Canadian writer-director Vincenzo Natali. A young backpacker tourist (Elijah Wood) falls in love with a vampiress (Olga Kurylenko).
- Père-Lachaise (XXe arrondissement) — by American writer-director Wes Craven. While visiting Père Lachaise Cemetery, a young woman (Emily Mortimer) breaks up with her fiancé (Rufus Sewell), who then redeems himself with the aid of advice from the ghost of Oscar Wilde (Alexander Payne).
- Faubourg Saint-Denis (Xe arrondissement) — by German writer-director Tom Tykwer. After mistakenly believing that his girlfriend, a struggling actress, has broken up with him, a young blind man (Melchior Beslon) reflects on the growth and seeming decline of his relationship with the actress (Natalie Portman).
- Quartier Latin (VIe arrondissement) — written by American actress Gena Rowlands, directed by French actor Gérard Depardieu and French director Frédéric Auburtin. A separated couple (Ben Gazzara and Rowlands) meet at a bar (run by Depardieu) for one last drink before the two officially divorce.
- 14e arrondissement (XIVe arrondissement) — written and directed by Alexander Payne. An American woman tourist (Margo Martindale), a letter carrier from Denver, Colorado on her first European holiday, recites in rough French what she loves about Paris.
The films for the project were acquired gradually, and Tom Tykwer's film "Faubourg Saint-Denis" was used to recruit other directors to the project. The Coen brothers signed after seeing it.
Julio Medem was attached to the project for a long time. He was supposed to direct one of the segments, but this finally fell through because of scheduling conflicts with the filming of Caótica Ana (2007).
Paris, je t'aime is the first feature film to be fully scanned in 6K and mastered in 4K in Europe (as opposed to the normal 2K). Encoding the image took about 24 hours per reel (at Laboratoires Éclair).