France, Movies & Paris
France is quite rightly very proud of its cinema tradition and there are so many great French movies made every year. But what to do if your French language skills are, ahem, a work in progress? Well it turns out there is a fun way for you to keep up with the newest French films even if you don’t yet speak French. Lost in Frenchlation screens French films with English subtitles and cocktails are usually involved too. Jennifer Hamerman interviewed Lost in Frenchlation co-founder Manon Kerjean about her passion for bringing the best of French cinema to an international Paris audience.
In my early years in Paris, I was sometimes embarrassed to know that friends and family back home in the UK and US had seen French films before me, because back then I wouldn’t have been able to follow them in French. So when I heard about Lost in Frenchlation’s weekly screenings with English subtitles, I just had to learn more about this simple yet inspired way to open up French cinema to the expats living here in Paris. I spoke with co-founder Manon Kerjean to find out more.
What is Lost in Frenchlation and how does it work?
“Lost in Frenchlation screens the best recent French films, usually three or four weeks after they’ve been released in France, but with English subtitles. There are with drinks before or after the film so that the international community has the chance to meet each other, as well mix with as native Parisians. We started with monthly screenings, nearly a year and a half ago, at cinema Studio 28 in the heart of Montmartre. We now also work with other cinemas but hold most of our events every Friday at Studio 28.
Tickets go on sale at the cinema at about 8pm and a lot of people arrive then to make sure they get a ticket and to avoid the queue later on. We also start selling our film-themed cocktail at 8pm, so people can enjoy a drink and catch up with friends while waiting for the cinema room doors to open at 9pm. Screenings usually finish at around 11pm and our audience tends to split into those heading home and those that look to enjoy the incredible bars in the area. We are in the latter group!”
What inspired you to start Lost in Frenchlation?
“Lost in Frenchlation was born out of the frustration that Matt and I felt when we could never go to the cinema together to see the French films advertised all over Paris. While I’m French, Matt is Australian and his French is… developing! We met while studying in Berlin, and when we came back to Paris, we searched every cinema to try to find French movies with English subtitles but had no luck. That’s when we realised that we mustn’t be the only ones feeling this frustration because of the language barrier – there’s a huge international community wanting to experience every aspect of French culture possible, and that’s who we’re trying to cater to. We want everyone to be able to experience French films just like the Parisians do – at the cinema.”
How do you choose the films?
“We choose our films based on what we would want to watch and what we think everyone else in Paris would like to see. Once that has been decided, we do our best to source the film with English subtitles, but this isn’t always the easiest task! Distributors are often a bit taken aback by the fact that we would like a copy of a French movie with English subtitles… in Paris! The copies are usually overseas because that makes more sense, but we’ve proven that non-French speakers in Paris want to go to the movies to see French films too, and we’re doing our best to make sure that they can!”
There are some stunning cinemas in Paris. What are your favourites?
“It’s such a difficult choice! Studio 28, of course! First, it is the oldest cinema in Paris, having opened its doors in 1928. Secondly, for me it is also the most iconic cinema in Paris, both in terms of its beauty and its location in the heart of Montmartre. It’s only a few steps away from where I was born and where I currently live. Le Cinéma des Cinéastes is the other cinema I go to if Studio 28 isn’t showing the movie I want to see. It used to be a cabaret where Montmartre artists used to go, and the building was made by Eiffel himself! They often run special events and their bar is great. Le Louxor, not far from Montmartre in the popular district of Barbes is another favourite. They recently renovated it with a gorgeous Egyptian storefront and a bar with a panoramic terrace. Mac-Mahon, near the Champs-Élysées is a very authentic, beautiful Parisian cinema, and they have a sharp selection of old American movies. I usually prefer small arthouse cinemas, but Max Linder (580 seats) is worth it: the screen is slightly curved to allow you to be more immersed in the film, the quality of the sound is excellent. And here’s a tip: if you grab a seat on the first balcony, you have enough room to put your legs up!”
Any restaurants or bars you’ve enjoyed lately and care to share with Mama Loves Paris?
“I highly recommend Chez Marcel, on Villa Léandre -the most beautiful street in Paris in my opinion. Their brunch is amazing, especially the French Toast! For lunch, I would recommend Il Brigante on Rue du Ruisseau – the owners are Italian and according to most people it’s the best pizza in Paris. If it’s a sunny day, for afternoon tea I would go to the courtyard of L’Hôtel Particulier on Avenue Junot, and try one of their delicious pastries. Finally, on Rue des Abbesses is La Cave des Abbesses, a wine bar. When you walk in, you just think it’s a normal wine shop, but if you keep going to the back, you’ll find the cave. It’s nothing too impressive, but it’s quaint and a really typical Parisian experience. They have a great Planche Mixte with some amazing wines. It’s actually a perfect thing to do before a Friday Lost in Frenchlation screening at Studio 28! First, get your ticket, then have dinner and wine. Finally, come back and enjoy the movie!
A big thank you to Manon Kerjean for sharing her passion for French films with us. If you fancy giving a Lost in Frenchlation screening a try, they have got a few coming up in May, on 19 May and Django on 26 May.
So take a look at the Lost in Frenchlation upcoming programme and head along to enjoy a film, a chat and drink or two. French films, Parisian style!