Interview: Lost In Frenchlation

The Seventy Fifth first heard about Lost in Frenchlation via a friend and was immediately enamoured by their idea of screening French films with English subtitles. Even if your expat French game is strong it can be difficult to get lost in the moment when it feels a little bit too much like hard work. We’re always keen to find out more about small independent start-ups led by passionate people so we’ve picked their brains on this wonderful idea and got some great French film recommendations in the process.  

Hello! Can you introduce yourselves and tell our readers a little bit about your backstory.
The duo behind Lost in Frenchlation is Manon and Matt – we’re an international couple that met while we were both studying in Berlin. Manon is French and has always lived in Paris (except from her time in Berlin), and she is focusing on getting Lost in Frenchlation off the ground when she’s not working on developing her career as a film editor. Matt is from Australia and he lived in Paris for nearly a year but is now working in finance in London and helping out on the project in his spare time.

What made you want to start Lost in Frenchlation?
The brilliant French-Canadian film ‘Mommy’! We had heard so much about it and we really wanted to see it at the cinema, but we couldn’t find a single cinema in Paris that was showing it with English subtitles. So we waited, and waited, until we could finally watch it on DVD with English subtitles. That’s when we realised that because many non-native Parisians can’t speak French well enough, they’re basically excluded from enjoying amazing French cinema in Paris like other Parisians do. We finally decided to do something about it, and that’s how Lost in Frenchlation was born.

Has it been easy trying to establish this kind of event in Paris?
We wouldn’t say that it has been easy – there are a lot of things that need to happen for Lost in Frenchlation to be a success, but we’re just tackling obstacles as they come and we’re learning a lot along the way. In saying that, it definitely could have been harder – the fact that Manon is French has been an absolute blessing because trying to communicate with some cinemas and production companies could have been very difficult otherwise! We’ve found that the film and international communities are really supportive of our idea though, so we’re excited to see what the future holds.

Can you give us any hints about some of the upcoming screening locations?
At the moment we’re hoping to hold each of the initial monthly events at the same cinema. It’s not one of the big cinemas in Paris, but it’s perfect for what we’re looking for. It’s artistic and oozes Parisian charm, it has a bar to hold drinks so that the international community can get to know each other, and it’s in one of the most beautiful neighbourhoods of Paris. We’ll keep everyone updated via our Facebook page once it’s been finalised!

There are so many wonderful classic French films (La Piscine, Bande à Part, Zazi Dans Le Metro) and great contemporary films (Girlhood, Amélie, Blue Is The Warmest Colour), how are you going to select films to screen?
It’s been really difficult for us to choose between showing classic French films and promising new box office films, and that’s why we’ve decided to aim to screen the perfect mix. That way, our audience gets to enjoy the best of French cinema in its entirety. We’ll be screening movies that have real meaning for us, and we hope it will have the same impact on our viewers.

What is your favourite cinema in Paris? 
We would love to tell you, but then we would be giving away the answer to your question about the upcoming screening location! We’ll reveal our favourite Parisian cinema in due course…

Name your top 5 French films.
1. 37°2 Le Matin by Jean-Jacques Beineix
2. Peau D’Âne by Jacques Demy
3. La Science des Rêves by Michel Gondry
4. Jeux D’Enfants by Yann Samuell
5. The trilogy L’Auberge Espagnole, Les Poupées Russes and Casse-Tête Chinois by Cédric Klapisch (that counts for one, right?!)

What advice do you have for other people trying to start a project similar to this?
Our best advice for trying to start a project in Paris is probably to try to get a native Parisian involved who already has some exposure to that field. It can be really hard to make any progress if you don’t have some idea of who to contact, let alone if you can’t properly communicate with them because of the language barrier. It’s definitely worth trying to do something though – Paris is a really entrepreneurial city and there’s a lot of support out there for great ideas.

What does the future hold for Lost in Frenchlation?
That’s the million dollar question! We aspire to start our own cinema that brings French cinema to the international community all week, every week, but initially we’ll be holding monthly screenings of a mix of current and classic films. We also really hope to be a hub for the international community to meet each other as well as native Parisians, so we’ll be inventing some film themed cocktails for people to chat over at our events. Right now though, we’re still putting all the pieces together and trying to get our name out there, so don’t forget to like our Facebook page to stay on top of our events!

Finally, I’ve never met a person who doesn’t like the film Amélie, why is it so universally appealing?
In our opinion, it’s probably because everyone can identify with Amélie to some extent – we all still carry some childlike sensitivity, and we’re all looking for the pure happiness that the movie conveys. Amélie transforms reality into something poetic and magical, her imagination has no boundaries. The movie is an anthem for life and for love, especially with Yann Tiersen’s soundtrack which really contributes to the transcendence that the viewer experiences, and that’s what we think cinema is really about – the escape.

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