Imagine being given a creative assignment. In this assignment, you are given five minutes to tell a story about love in Paris. Your story can be about any of the aspects of love, but you must tell your story in five minutes.
This assignment, or perhaps a better word would be challenge, was given to 21 of some of the most internationally acclaimed directors including Walter Salles, Alfonso Cuarón, Tom Tykwer, Gus Van Sant, Wes Craven, Alexander Payne, Gurinder Chadha and Joel and Ethan Coen.
Each director (or set of directors) had to set his/ her story in a certain arrondissement (or section) of the city. He/ she also only had two or three days to shoot which added to the difficulty of the assignment.
The director was given almost complete freedom besides the standards mentioned earlier, including choice in actor. Some of the familiar faces which show up though out the stories include Fanny Ardant, Juliette Binoche, Willem Dafoe, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Natalie Portman, Catalina Sandino Moreno and Elijah Wood among others.
This assignment, with all the stories put together into a “film collectif” is known under the all-too-appropriate title of Paris, Je T’Aime (Paris, I Love You).
The film was first shown at the Cannes Film Festival in 2006 and was then premiered in Canada later that year at the Toronto Film Festival. It was not released in the United States until May 2007, nearly a year after its premiere in France.
Paris, Je T’Aime is truly a fantastic film. The stories run the gamut from love at first site, to the love of a child, to love lost, to love regained. And so on and so forth.
Also, every genre of film is considered. There is simple, straight-forward story telling, science fiction stories, to documentary-esque segments, etc.
Also some stories are spanned over years, others take place in the five minutes and yet others seem to have no sense of time attached to it all.
Each director does an amazing job of story and character development. It truly made me appreciate all that can occur over the span of five minutes. There were stories where, in this short five minute time period, I became so attached to the characters that I found myself tearing up.
Paris, Je T’Aime was released on DVD this past November. The film itself is reason enough to purchase it, but if you need some more incentive, there is also a short documentary on the making of the film.
In it, there are the different directors describing their experience in working within the rules of the assignment. Also, the actors discuss their involvement in the film and why they took the job in the first place.
Paris, Je T’Aime is a phenomenal film that I would recommend to anyone. It is mostly in French and English, but there are subtitles available in both languages. It is completely different from anything else out there and is touching, hilarious, and relatable all at the same time.