New York, I Love You is a companion to Paris, je t'aime (which I saw at the festival back in 2006). As with Paris, New York I Love You consists of a number of short films, with a variety of directors and actors (some well known, some not), all revolving around love with the city as a backdrop.
The film is still a work-in-progress, so the producers asked that the media not review the movie, so I'll dispense with any detailed discussion. I will say the film looks to be shaping up fine, with a number of touching and funny segments. Very similar thematically to Paris, je t'aime, but with a different feel because of the setting.
Some notes not specifically related to the shorts themselves:
- Producer Emmanuel Benbihy referred to this series of films as the 'Cities of Love Franchise', and this was repeated in the end credits. Personally, that word makes me think of multi-part Hollywood blockbusters, not the sort of experimental and collaborative type of film that this is. It just conjures up the wrong type of image to call it a 'franchise', as accurate as the term may be.
- The film is multicultural, spanning a number of different cultures and nations (Hispanic, Chinese, Indian, Jewish among others), but one group not really represented are African-Americans. Now I don't think that was anything explicitly intentional, but I think it is a missed opportunity, given that these films are as much about the city they take place in as they are about love, and it just feels like there's a bit of a hole.
- This could change in the final release, but it appears this film has dispensed with the conceit of having each short based around a specific neighbourhood in the city. I think even in Paris, je t'aime, the producers said at that Q&A that the concept didn't completely work out in that film either.
Producers Emmanuel Benbihy and Marina Grasic did a Q&A after the film:
- Shanghai and Jerusalem will be the next cities featured in this series of films.
- They choose people for the film based on their enthusiasm for the project. They approached a number of directors, and went with the ones that proposed ideas that were very different, and included some that knew New York and others that didn't.
- There were both insiders and outsiders, and directors from all over (Russia, Japan, China, France, America).
- Some directors came to them with very specific ideas about what they wanted to do, but others fleshed it out as they went along.
- Many were very influenced by their first trip to the city, when they would go to do location scouting, and sometimes they would get final scripts very late in the process.
- They tried keeping the directors apart, but that quickly fell apart. The production facilities in New York have editing rooms on one floor and the production office below, which created a film school-like atmosphere for the directors. Many became friendly with each other and aware of what each was doing, and some were friends beforehand (Attal, Hughes, Ratner) and some had worked together before.
- Some of the well-known actors are playing against type, and that was intentional because of the format. Directors involved see it as an opportunity to work in a different country or illustrate their city, actors see it as a chance to work with directors they wouldn't normally. It creates an environment where everyone tries something different and get away from being cataloged for once.
- Hayden Christensen and Rachel Bilson were interested in working with Wen Jiang, and his DP was very well known as well.
- On how many were from New York vs not: Ethan Hawke, Natalie Portman, Scarlett Johansson, Cloris Leachman, Eli Wallach were from New York, a lot of the DP's were from abroad (Pawel Edelman, who works with Roman Polanski; Benoît Debie who has worked with Gaspar Noé, etc.), but the crew was from New York.
- While they were filming, they were also editing, as opposed to doing all principal photography before starting editing. Some editors were specifically chosen by the directors, and there is a separate editor for the transitional pieces.
- Benbihy and Bohnet have been spending the last few months on trying to determine the order of the segments.
- Benbihy was asked if they spoke with directors closely associated with New York, like Woody Allen or Martin Scorsese, and he said they did, but that doesn't necessarily mean they proposed they be part of the project, as the producers also wanted to show New York differently, not the one everyone expects. They discussed the project with them, they were aware of it, but they were all busy anyway.
2009/05/03: Zap2It.com is reporting that Scarlett Johansson's segment, filmed in black-and-white, pretty much without dialog, and featuring Kevin Bacon as he makes his way to Coney Island to eat a hot dog, will not be included in the theatrical release of the film: