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Interview with Sophie Lellouche, French director of ‘Paris-Manhattan’

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This interview is in English. Click here to read it in French.

Personal

Tell us three words that describe you.
Perseverance, kindness and humour.

What is your favourite kind of movie? Why?
I don’t really have a specific kind of movie. I love cinema and I can appreciate comedies, dramas, or action movies. For example, I love Tootsie, Some Like It Hot, or Cohen brothers’ movies. Recently, I loved watching Skyfall, the last James Bond movie, and I even think of going to watch it again!

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Who is your favourite French director? And actor?
I can think about many directors I admire, but I guess that, among the ‘new’ ones, the director who overwhelms me the most is Christophe Honoré, who made ‘Les chansons d’amour’ and ‘Les biens-aimés’. His movies speak of human feelings with great truth. I also love Maiween, who made ‘Polisse’ and ‘Pardonnez-moi’. Concerning the actors, I really like Fabrice Lucchini, Yolande Moreau and Jean-Pierre Bacri… whose personalities are both touching and funny.

If you could make the movie of your dreams, what would be the topic or concept?
I would like to make a period film, a story about several generations. I am fascinated by time and the relationship between past and present. Speaking about that, my favourite Woody Allen movie is probably Midnight in Paris, which adresses the issue of existence of time.

Paris-Manhattan

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Paris-Manhattan is your first feature film (after a short-film in 1999), why now and after such a long time?
After my short film I did not dare, I thought there was no place for me among my models, all so talented. Paris-Manhattan is the answer to that 13 year wait. The movie talks about the difficulty to surpass your own idols, to stay trapped behind an idealism and not to move forward with your life. It needs a lot of courage, and it took me a while!

Where does the idea of the movie come from? Are you yourself a Woody Allen fan?
The idea came from Woody Allen himself actually, whose movies I love. One day I thought how wonderful it would be to be his friend, and it seemed like a good idea for a film to me. Use him to help my heroine. In fact, it’s the story of a child who has difficulties becoming an adult, just like me. And Woody Allen cinema shows everything that you can do or dare. It doesn’t forget to make you dream or laugh, while being very smart.

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You said you wouldn’t have made the movie without Woody Allen. How did you manage to convince him?
It’s true, I didn’t want to make this movie without him in the cast. For me, cinema is synonymous with magic, and seeing Woody Allen appear and disappear twice at the end of my movie like a magician was essential. Everyone was saying that he would never accept but, knowing all his movies, I was sure he would. France has a very important place in his heart, because French people were the first to be sensitive to his talent. Maybe playing in my movie was a way for him to thank us all!

Do you think French romantic comedies have something special? Why shoot in Paris?
I couldn’t imagine a better place to shoot my film than France and especially Paris because it has a great significance for Woody Allen. He himself has used Paris a lot for his own movies. That said, I don’t think French romantic comedies have anything particular, we’re even quite behind the American romantic comedies…

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Are you happy with the results of Paris-Manhattan? Do you already have new projects?
It took me a while to like this movie, at the beginning I was only able to see the defects and the reviews I could have done on it. But today, I’m delighed when I watch it, it has a special meaning for me. And even if I make better movies then, I will still have a special affection for my first film. I’m already working on a new project, which takes me a lot time! But, it won’t last 13 years, I promise!

Your favourites in Paris

Place to eat:
The Orient Extrême, 21 rue Bayard in the 8th arrondissement.

Place to drink:
The Mama Shelter, 109 rue de Bagnolet in the 20th.

Place to shop:
The Bon Marché, 24, rue de sèvres in the 7th.

Place to play?
I love the Jardin du Luxembourg, the museum of Grand Palais and the nightclub Le Matignon !

Favourite day trip:
Start with a breakfast at Carette, place du Trocadéro, then go to see an exhibition at the Grand Palais, have lunch at Toraya, rue Saint Florentin, and watch a movie at La Pagode cinema, rue de Babylone. Enjoy a diner at Les Cocottes restaurant, rue Saint Dominique and end-up on the Seine quais by car…

Thank you Sophie for taking the time to talk with us here at My French Life™. We wish you all the best with your future projects.

Image credits:
1,2,3 and 5. Pictures by the production of Paris-Manhattan
4. Woody Allen, by Colin Swan on Flickr.


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