USA vus par
10 filmakers in 10 U.S. cities
- Los Angeles
- New Orleans
- New York
- San Francisco
- Washington, DC
Understanding a city also means comparing it with the fantasies we wrap it up in, setting out to discover a space and its reality, exploring a territory with an imagined map, and developing a personal account of it.
“USA vus par…” is an anthology of shorts films – 10 filmmakers, 10 cities, 10 films – that brings together a generation of French filmmakers, including Patric Chiha, Alice Diop, Hassan Ferhani, Yann Gonzales, Sophie Letourneur, Valérie Massadian, Bojina Panayaotova, and Virgil Vernier. They all have one or two feature films under their belt, films that have been selected at major international festivals, and all of them reinvent, in their own way, the codes, aesthetics, and methods of French cinema production.
These ten filmmakers focus on the way we experience the present, and they explore a relationship with reality that ranges from the bluntness of documentary filmmaking to the magic of fiction. Together, they give us a wide-ranging and dynamic view of contemporary French cinema: varied, hybrid, challenging, and multicultural.
Catherine Bizern is the anthology’s artistic director. As Managing Director of the Entrevues festival from 2006 to 2012, she witnessed this new generation of filmmakers as they came into their own. She is currently the General Delegate of the Cinéma du réel festival and the Artistic Director of the Centre des écritures cinématographiques at Moulin d’Andé, where she supports the works of contemporary filmmakers.
“USA vus par…” is being developed and produced by Michel Klein, through his company, Les Films Hatari. In 2002, Klein produced an initial anthology, “Portraits,” alongside French/German channel Arte, which was shown at the Directors’ Fortnight in Cannes in 2004. Since then, he has produced over fifty feature films (fiction and documentary).
The 1964 anthology film “Paris vu par...” was directed by six filmmakers of the New Wave. Six stories, six perspectives on Paris, and one of the most iconic films of an era of French cinema in full bloom. That model is the inspiration for “USA vus par…” – ten shorts grouped together, directed by ten French filmmakers. Each director will share with us their immersive experience of a US city.
Understanding a city also means comparing it with the fantasies we wrap it up in, setting out to discover a space and its reality, exploring a territory with an imagined map, and developing a personal account of it. “USA vus par…” is an exercise in discovery that advocates for a cinema of action and highlights ten cities as they stood when the films were being made, over a period of three months – discover, reflect, shoot.
These principles and constraints encourage a lighter, documentary-style approach that some of the filmmakers aren’t necessarily familiar with. This proposal also aims to encourage everyone to travel, research, and investigate on a trip to an unknown city. But the documentary form doesn’t preclude fantasy, narrative construction or staging – each film will bear the mark of its author, and the sum of all ten films will defy the boundaries between documentary and fiction, coming to life in the field, in a light and playful way.
Bizern gave each filmmaker a city to explore, trusting her instinct to surmise links between a creator’s universe and a particular territory: Yann Gonzales in San Francisco, Virgil Vernier in Los Angeles, Sophie Letourneur in Houston, Hassen Ferahni in Miami, Valérie Massadian in Atlanta, Bojina Panayaotova in Washington, D.C., Patric Chiha in Boston, Alice Diop in New Orleans etc. Each city exists in its own unique way, because of its history, its inhabitants, its industries, its migrants, and its geographical location. Each has developed its own imagery and myth. Experience and discovery will feed on the city’s imagery, and each film will be as much the telling of a story as the result of a journey between vision and reality.
This anthology provides an opportunity to broaden our perspectives, views and expressions of the United States, that Mecca of cinema, to form a mosaic of a multifaceted, fragmented country. Although we cannot foresee the filmmakers’ avenues of investigation and expression, we can expect their gaze to build a bridge between here and there, by exploring universal concerns.
In partnership with
Les Films Hatari is an independent French film and television program production company founded in 2002. Its ambition is to support films that seal a committed narrative with strong cinematography, with strong potential for financing and marketing on the French, European and extra-European markets. French. Since its birth, Les films Hatari has produced around fifty films, most of which have been screened at festivals around the world.