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TUESDAY - Americans in Paris: After the Dance

Programmed by: Etienne Labbouz

Co-sponsored by the France Chicago Center

"Paris – the City of Light – had been a beacon for expats following the steps of those who exalted it as the cradle for artistic and intellectual expansion, among which the birth of cinema was included.

When twirling cheek to cheek, France and the U.S. outshined the silver screen. Josephine Baker shuffled her “danse sauvage,” Gene Kelly tapped his tap, and Marlon Brando tangoed with (an exploited) Maria Schneider. A mesmerized audience hungry for American-touched entertainment was introduced to commercial musicals, erotic exoticization, and subjugation – all posing as liberation and progress.

The twist this series puts on the topic aims to account for that moment when the lights go up, the music stops, the rose tint fades, and it’s time to face your dance partner. Unlike the problematic films referenced above, it seeks to recount the lesser-told narratives of characters who were twice outsiders – as Americans in Paris and as marginalized citizens.

In this series, films from the long decolonizing '60s and the globalized 21st century inform each other about the evolution of issues of class, race, and gender as evils of the Western world. Did Jane Fonda and Audrey Hepburn lead the way for Kristen Stewart and Kirsten Dunst to unravel the meshes of their identity, their socio-political duty? Is the romance and glamour of Paris still driving Americans toward a devouring passion, dancing them to the end of love? At whose expense, and at what cost, came the freedom that African-Americans James Baldwin and Melvin Van Peebles sought in Paris? Come find out, and bring all the Emilys you know."

Charade (1963)

Charade (1963) still

Stanley Donen · 113m · 35mm

Who better fit than Audrey Hepburn to introduce this series? The British-born, American-playing actress embodies Parisian chic at its finest, giving Hollywood’s Golden Age its last shimmer in a film by Stanley Donen. In Givenchy dresses, Hepburn partners with Cary Grant in this funny and romantic suspense thriller.

Tuesday, March 19th 7:00PM

Paris Belongs to Us (1961)

Paris Belongs to Us (1961) still

Jacques Rivette · 141m · DCP

While Jean Seberg was hawking "New York Herald Tribune!" in Godard’s first feature Breathless, Jacques Rivette was contributing to establishing the French New Wave with the overlooked Paris Belongs to Us, in which disillusioned twenty-somethings interweave against a conspiracy-theory-painted backdrop.

Tuesday, March 26th 7:00PM

Meeting the Man: James Baldwin in Paris (1970) / The Story of a Three Day Pass (1967)

Meeting the Man: James Baldwin in Paris (1970) / The Story of a Three Day Pass (1967) still

Terence Dixon / Melvin Van Peebles · 26m / 87m · DCP

From Josephine Baker to Miles Davis, Black Americans sought refuge in Paris from segregation. Shunned by Hollywood, Melvin Van Peebles similarly used France’s patronage to make his debut. The Story of a Three Day Pass tells a Fanonian story of a Black G.I. whose search for liberation leads him into the arms of Miriam, a white shop clerk. In the preceding short, writer and activist James Baldwin is shown in his Paris days, fighting against the white gaze the British film crew casts upon him.

Tuesday, April 2nd 7:00PM

Simon Killer (2012)

Simon Killer (2012) still

Antonio Campos · 105m · Digital

In Paris 2012, synth-pop was at its peak (like, Eiffel Tower high). If warm synth layers can’t soothe the broken heart of Simon (Brady Corbet), could anything or anyone really? Paris’ exoticism? A North African sex worker played by the great actor-director Mati Diop? It’s all different but the same anyway.

Tuesday, April 9th 7:00PM

Marie Antoinette (2006)

Marie Antoinette (2006) still

Sofia Coppola · 123m · DCP

When reflected onto Versailles’ Hall of Mirrors, Sofia Coppola’s pop rewriting of history seems like a more dazzling version of the truth. Something’s off outside the palace, inside the queen. The Americans here are the cast and the crew, holding a mirror to royal giddiness — as they waltz and twirl, Paris is roaring.

Tuesday, April 16th 7:00PM

Who Are You, Polly Maggoo? (1966)

Who Are You, Polly Maggoo? (1966) still

William Klein · 101m · Digital

Before political filmmaking, William Klein was a fashion photographer. In mockumentary style, Klein makes a satire of the Parisian haute couture world that made him as we follow an American model running away from the runway. This is a rare yet stunning pop item: luxe bohemian catalogue clippings and cinéma vérité stitched onto the canvas of the screen for a retro piece, prêt-à-porter.

Tuesday, April 23rd 7:00PM

Personal Shopper (2016)

Personal Shopper (2016) still

Olivier Assayas · 105m · DCP

In this profoundly intimate film, Kristen Stewart and director Olivier Assayas collaborate on meshing Stewart’s acting and persona. Haunted by the death of her twin brother, her character awaits in Paris’s purgatory-like dressing room, sewing the phantom threads late-stage capitalism has shrouded us with.

Tuesday, April 30th7:00PM · Friday, May 3rd 9:30PM

Trouble Every Day (2001)

Trouble Every Day (2001) still

Claire Denis · 101m · 35mm

An American couple visits Paris for the first time. They soon discover that underneath the romantic surface of the city lies a world full of devouring passion and horror. Widely-acclaimed director Claire Denis shows, through actors Vincent Gallo and Béatrice Dalle, that love is better seen through blood-red-tinted glasses.

Tuesday, May 7th 7:00PM

Tout va bien (1972)

Tout va bien (1972) still

Jean-Luc Godard and Jean-Pierre Gorin · 96m · DCP

It’s the last dance before closing time – the end of history, that is. Jane Fonda and Yves Montand question their political position within the class struggle and their own relationship in Godard and Gorin’s co-directorial debut. This is a deeply moving drama in which the viewer is invited to practice self-criticism and evaluate whether all is really well in the West.

Tuesday, May 14th 7:00PM