'Paris à contre jour' is an ongoing project aiming to share the essence of locations across Paris through a series of short black and white films. Film-maker Mischa Harmeijer told me why he launched the project and what he is hoping to achieve.
The films are the work of both Mischa Harmeijer and Sophie Queyroi who together form the Pongh! video production company. These brief snippets of Paris are featured on a dedicated website, but their work does not end there. Together they worked on a short (silent) film that was selected at this year's Cannes Film Festival.
Their Paris project stemmed from a reflection on French media, which Mischa felt "lacked humanity and originality." Believing that the media's intellectualisation of the city creates an emotional distance, he wanted to make a different kind of journalism, "based on human sensitivity", but above all to create "something the viewers will like and appreciate."
All of their work is in black and white only, "an excellent vehicle for transmitting a deep emotion, filled with nostalgia" points out Mischa. He also believes it gives the films a certain timelessness, reflecting a city that often seems unsure which era it is living in.
The website currently features around a dozen films, the locations seemingly chosen at random. How is this choice made I wonder. "I never choose a location, the locations choose me," replies Mischa, "I just need to need to connect myself and the rest happens automatically. Even when something has already been filmed a thousand times, we can still create an original point of view."
The films, little more than a series of barely moving but perfectly framed snapshots, quickly communicate the atmosphere and nature of the location, but the range is perhaps not sufficiently wide as yet. This is still a very familiar Paris, a preserved place of calm and beauty, backed by some rather jaunty music from Bartok. I would be happy to be taken to a more obscure Paris, somewhere more uneasy and less welcoming!
The Rue de Rivoli