Paris Au Cinema & Paris Cinema Festival

I’m always a bit leery of anything involving Paris and cinema, because inevitably, one of two things happens to people who experience Paris exclusively through films, and then visit for the first time: (1) They become sorely disillusioned when they encounter the real Paris, which can be grimy and hectic (race riots, anyone?), and not quite the quaint city from “Amélie Poulain” that they had in mind; or (2) they completely ignore reality and become bit players in their own fantasy world, prancing about with baguettes under their arms pretending to be latter-day Steins and Hemingways, thinking Paris never evolved beyond the 1930s. Nevertheless, you have to admit that Paris is a city that knows how to sell itself on celluloid. Which is exactly what the Mairie de Paris is doing with its slick and ambitious retrospective Paris au Cinéma.

There’s footage and navel-gazing a-plenty at the Hôtel de Ville – check out the New York Times’s gushing review (calling the retrospective “masterly”). The exhibition seems interesting enough (and to the curator’s credit, rare historical footage such as Paris under the Occupation is included); however, there’s just a slight whiff of Paris resting on its laurels – though in full disclosure I haven’t seen the exhibition, and so reserve final judgment.

Far more up-to-date and practical for the Paris movie-lover is the Paris Cinema festival. Also organized by the Mairie de Paris, the fourth iteration of the now-famous festival includes the hugely popular €4 movie deals throughout various cinemas in Paris, as well as free outdoor movie screenings. Paris au Cinéma runs until June 30 at the Hôtel de Ville; the Paris Cinema festival runs from June 27 to July 11 in various locations throughout the city.