Paris : Simon Cutts & Erica Van Horn
There was a time when we thought that every niche film ever made was playing at some obscure art-house movie theatre on the edge of Paris. We would comb the-then Pariscope, or later L’Officiel des Spectacles which came out every Wednesday and still does. We would plot our journeys, as with the free music playing in churches, and walk between them in the most planned way possible. It might include something to eat before or after at a restaurant or cafe we also listed and had never visited.
But I have the feeling that it has changed significantly. There is no longer quite the eclectic choice of films, now more dominated by blockbuster distribution, and the free music has thinned-down quite a lot since our earliest stays. [We say it’s free, but we always end up putting ten euros into the collection plate.]
However, there are still some more obscure movies playing, maybe once a week at something like 10.00am on a Thursday morning, in some very small theatre with a door into a side alley that you probably missed first time round in counting down numbers on the street.
And such movies end up gathering completely specific followings. This sojourn in Paris, we have been to three films with highly selective audiences. In the stalls for The New York Public Library, a documentary which lasted the best part of three and a half hours, there were as many as twenty-five what I would have assumed to be librarians, making up the audience.
For Vienne avant la nuit, a film of one man’s search for his ancestors in Vienna after the diaspora, the audience was almost certainly people of a similar disposition. More recently we went to see a not-great film called We Blew It!, a diatribe of parts, interviews and clips. It had no really consistent agenda, but concerned the evaporation of the 1960’s culture of potential change, to the impasse of the present demise and stagnation in America. The audience was full of old hippies, perhaps even including ourselves on the spectrum of that scenario. How specific an audience is that! SC