Paris - The Movie

photo: forum des halles

The 'Nouveau' Forum des Halles still has its sub-level pit.

More Films, Better Films - Than
the Late Show

Paris:- Wednesday, 27. January 1999:- Beginning last October, Paris had an event called the 'Mois de la Photo' and the darn thing is still going on - as you will know if you've been reading the 'Scene' page in recent issues.

Just as some painters in the last century decided they didn't have the patience to do academic painting, and 'Impressionism' was invented - some other people were fooling around and ended up inventing photography; which really put the boot to realistic painting.

Following right behind the guys with the plates and the chemicals came another gang of bright souls, who invented 'moving pictures,' and here we are today with movies like the 'Titanic' or 'Asterix,' and slick videos meant to flog garbage music.

For one reason or another, Paris was chosen to be the home of the invention of a lot of this, and I guess this explains how the 'Mois de la Photo' can go on for month after month. I guess every month is the 'Mois de la Photo' in Paris.

Some events for this non-stop event were mentioned in 'Scene' as taking place at the Forum des Images. I think I put in a different address for its location in every issue, and I may have even given it different names too.

This has been nagging me, so today I have decided to find the place and verify its existence.

I will not tell you where it is not. I have been in these places now and if I say where these are, then you'll be just as confused as I am. There is no big finger, painted yellow, pointing atbrochure: television program the place. People I talk to, cannot say exactly where it is. Saying it is in the Forum des Halles is no help; this 'Forum' is bigger and more confusing than it used to be.

The 'Forum des Images' was 10 years old last September. For its first ten years, it was called the 'Vidéothèque de Paris' and it still uses this name as a subtitle, to confuse me. Forget it! The 'Vidéothèque de Paris' is dead. Long live the 'Forum des Images!'

I am told the Forum des Images has not changed its location. What has changed, is the space in the centre of Paris called the 'Forum des Halles.' Underground, the 'Forum' has expanded to the west, right up to the edge of the Bourse de Commerce.

This has allowed UGC to put in a colossal cinema, allowed the city to put in a swimming pool, gymnasium and a billiard hall and a whole bunch more shopping Mall. This area may be called the 'New' Forum des Halles; but it is just a western addition to the old one. It is all one 'Forum des Halles.'

This 'new' has allowed the Forum des Images to expand itself. How much so, I do not know exactly because I never looked closely at the original version.

The new Forum des Images has a 'vidéothèque,' which is not a name but merely a way of saying you can view video versions of its collection of 6,000 movies. There are 40 viewing stations. The new 'Forum des Images' has three cinemas, plus an auditorium which is also a cinemabrochure: film program with 500 seats. The other three have 300, 100 and 30 seats respectively. There is also - or will be - a place for viewing still photos, on multimedia computers, and this area will also have a projection room able to seat 40.

Finally, the new Forum des Images has an area called 'Cyberport.' Here are 10 multimedia computers; nearly always available to the public.

Brochure cover for current movie program.

The ensemble of what I see today, while still somewhat under construction, has a bit of polished finish and plush - like a well-made cinema. But the really interesting thing about the whole affair is that the contents - the films, the photos - all have Paris in them. This is what makes the Forum des Images unique. It contains the audiovisual version of Paris.

The collection of films goes back to 1895. A couple of years ago, 'New Wave' films were most heavily in demand by visitors. Now, films by the rising new generation of directors are the box-office draws.

The Forum des Images has 6,000 films available, of which 1,600 are feature-length and 4,700 are shorts. A full 1,500 of the films have fictional scenarios; 3,500 are documentaries and there are even 280 publicity films - all of which total 4,000 hours of viewing time. And Paris is 'in' every one.

If you have just wandered in out of the rain and have no idea where to start, there is also a searchablebrochure: forum des halles info database containing all the films - which is also available online - so you can decide on your program before even getting to Paris.

Besides collecting films, the Forum des Images also produces or does co-production of new films. To date, production has been 600 films and some of these have been shown on broadcast television.

If you tend to get lost in the Forum des Halles, get this brochure, containing maps of all levels.

The Forum des Images serves as an educational institution for the city of Paris as well as a research centre, and the city pays the major part of the budget; with the rest being made up from entry receipts. About 200,000 visited the Forum des Images last year.

Forum des Images - is located on level minus three in the Forum des Halles. It is just off a big interior space called the 'Place Carrée.'

The two entries closest to it are the Porte Saint-Eustache and the Porte du Pont-Neuf. On the surface, these two 'Portes' are in the garden area, west of the sunken, glassed, pit of Les Halles. If lost in the garden, the two entries are near either end of the Allée André Breton.

Hours: for the Espace Cinéma, from Tuesday to Sunday, from 14:30. Espace Vidéothèque, from Tuesday to Sunday, from 13:00 to 21:00, and on Thursdays until 22:00. The Espace multimedia has the same hours.

Single-ticket entry for 30 francs allows two hours in the vidéothèque, or up to four films a day in the cinemas. Internet access is included for the first 30 minutes; an additional 30 minutes is 25 francs, or five hours for 200 francs. If you intend to be a heavy user, enquire about subscription rates. Info. Tel.: 01 44 76 63 33; after 13:00.

The BiFi

The is the short name for the Bibliothèque du Film, which is operated by the Centre National de la Cinématographie, the Cinémathèque Française and the FEMIS. I don't know what 'FEMIS' is and it has probably forgotten too.

The BiFi is to France what the Forum des Images is to Paris. The conditions are about the same, exceptbrochure: bifi info the BiFi is more oriented towards professional researchers, with its huge library of books and periodicals; as well as access-by-reservation to its archives containing all sorts of originals: scripts, notes, storyboards, photos and rare film posters.

The number of 'viewing stations' available to the general public is 60. There are another 15 places reserved for professionals and researchers. For the public, 1,500 films are available in video format. The library has 14,500 books, and there are 340 magazine titles available. There is also a large collection of movie reviews, as well as the giant poster collection with 13,000 of them.

The BiFi - 100. Rue du Faubourg Saint-Antoine, Paris 12. Métro: Ledru-Rollin. The 'médiathèque' is open from Monday to Friday, from 10:00 to 19:00. Entry for whole day: 20 francs. Ten entries for 100 francs. Annual subscription: 200 francs. Info. Tel.: 01 53 02 22 30.

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