The Event

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La Femis is the French national film school. It’s based on the Rue Francoeur in Montmartre, in what used to be the studios of Rapid Film, Bernard Natan’s production company. When he bought Pathe Cinema he merged the two companies together.

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The building still has its unique 1920s/30s character. The buildings surround a narrow lane into which the companies trucks could make their deliveries. From the balcony on the second floor you can look down on the works and feel like an emperor of cinema. Here, Marine Multier, Chargee de la communication, surveys her kingdom.

Down in the alley there are memorials to the dead of two world wars, studio employees who gave their lives for France, but until this week there was nothing making mention of the man who created the studio and who also died during WWII — a victim of Germany and France working together to destroy him because of his race.

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It has taken fifteen years of campaigning by the family to get the plaque put up. Things were slow because the French state owns th building so it’s all bureaucracy and committees that meet once a year. It took less than a year to strip Natan of his French citizenship, earned by service in WWI (he was wounded and decorated for bravery: they had to pass a special act to take away his citizenship), thereby rendering him stateless and ensuring his deportation to Auschwitz. But I guess that’s one difference between democracy and dictatorship: democracies move slower.

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Patient under his black curtain, Bernard Natan awaits his unveiling.

 

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4 Responses to “The Event”

  1. Time for you to take a bow as “Shadowplayers” everywhere give you a cyber “Standing O”

  2. Thanks! The applause is really for the family, who made this happen. But the event made for a fantastic screening opportunity for our film, and that added to the sense of occasion so it all worked beautifully.

  3. 53bb55aum Says:

    How can I see a copy of the Natan film? I live in NY and missed the screening at Jewish Film Festival.

  4. We’re hoping for a US sale, but it may take a while. We have to clear the rights to the clips, which we may be able to do soon…

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