Here's a bit of culture news that caught my eye. Opening this week in New York is American filmmaker Frederick Wiseman's documentary of the ballet at the Palais Garnier. La Danse: the Paris Opera Ballet promises to be a fascinating glimpse behind the scenes at that elegant institution.
So why did I laugh when I read the review? It had nothing to do with Wiseman's film per se. There was just a bit of ironic timing. A cultural juxtaposition, the kind that always hits my funny bone.
This week at the Virginia Film Festival, French cineaste Claude Miller will be screening the American debut of Marching Band.
Both of these documentaries are appealing. I can't wait to see them. But it tickled me to realize that this week in film news, France sees American culture through the lens of two southern university marching bands, whereas America views French culture as quintessentially elegant ballet.
So my morning java-inspired idea began evolving. There are already a host of excellent French Film festivals in the US each year. And of course the Deauville American Film Festival in France. But how about creating an annual French/American film festival, to be held on both sides of the Atlantic? It would feature, side by side, French documentaries about the US and American documentaries about France. In France the screenings would no doubt be accompanied by débats philosophiques sprinkled with the phrase regards croisés. Maybe a flute of champagne. In America they would probably be accompanied by hot dogs and apple pie, plus brie and baguettes. Right?
Just an idea.
image from Virginia Film Festival