As a media-centric city, there is never a shortage of film festivals in New York City. But there are undoubtedly few opportunities to watch great movies in a relaxed outdoor setting. For a decade, the Cultural Services of the French Embassy, the New York City Department Of Parks & Recreation and the FACE Foundation have been collaborating to present Films On The Green. An annual outdoor French film festival presented in New York City parks, the series is free and open to the public, and its 10th Anniversary edition kicks off on June 2nd with a Central Park screening of Potiche; this particular film was selected by comedian and actress Wanda Sykes.
Wanda Sykes is not the only big name to have curated content for this year’s Films On The Green. Amy Hargreaves, Saul Williams, Wes Anderson, Jim Jarmusch, Matthew Weiner, Isabella Rossellini, James Ivory, Matías Piñeiro and Laurie Anderson also choose films to be shown in June, July and September 2017. Beyond Central Park, participating venues include Washington Square Park, Tompkins Square Park, Riverside Park, Columbia University and Brooklyn’s Transmitter Park. Meanwhile, the French Embassy continues to present similar programming in Miami, Chicago and Boston. Going beyond the warm weather seasons, the French Embassy presents programming year-round.Inside Pulse had the pleasure of speaking with both actress Amy Hargreaves — currently portraying Lainie Jensen on the Netflix hit 13 Reasons Why — and Bénédicte de Montlaur, Cultural Counselor of the French Embassy. More On Films On The Green 2017 can be found at www.face-foundation.org/films-on-the-green.
What was the first film project you were part of that you were really proud of?
Amy Hargreaves: The first film I ever worked on, Brainscan. It was a huge job for me, the female lead in a studio feature. I was proud to be a part of it and proud of the work I did in it.
You have appeared in a lot of movies, but have had the most success working in television. Did you consciously choose to work in TV?
Amy Hargreaves: No, it hasn’t been a conscious choice. It’s true with the advent of more cable channels and now streaming, there is just so much more TV production than just a decade ago. But I’m interested in telling interesting stories and working with talented writers and directors, wherever that may be. I’m fortunate to be able to hop around between theater, film and TV.
When you booked 13 Reasons Why, did you have any idea that it would be so well-received?
Amy Hargreaves: I knew we would have a lot of eyes on the show thanks for our super EPs — Selena Gomez, Tom McCarthy — and from the legion Jay Asher fans who wanted to see how the novel translated to the small screen, but I didn’t realize it would become such a phenomenon.
Any idea what the second season of 13 Reasons Why will be like? That was a very quick green-lighting of a second season…
Amy Hargreaves: I know that the writers are planning to followup the stories that were left dangling at the end of season one: What will happen with the Baker’s lawsuit? What will happen with Jessica now that she has told her father the truth? Will Bryce be brought to justice? What will happen with Tyler and Justin? Will Alex recover?
What else is coming up for your career-wise?
Amy Hargreaves: I have a feature called Super Dark Times, directed by Kevin Phillips, that premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival that will have a theatrical release in the fall. I also have a supporting role in Todd Haynes’ film Wonderstruck, which is premiering at Cannes and will also be in theaters this fall.
Have you met any of the other curators of the Films On The Green series before?
Amy Hargreaves: No!
Any chance we may see you at the June 16th screening at Washington Square Park?
Amy Hargreaves: I’m hoping to be there, but it depends on my 13 Reasons Why shooting schedule. Cameras roll on season two sometime in June — I’m waiting to know my exact schedule.
Finally, when not busy with your career, how do you like to spend your free time?
Amy Hargreaves: When I’m not working, I’m basically a stay-at-home mom. Making dinner, doing laundry, scheduling dentist appointments and walking the dog. My kids are getting older, so I’m trying to take advantage of these last few years and just spend time with them.
Bénédicte, what is the criteria for selecting films for Films On The Green?
Bénédicte de Montlaur: Our mission for Films On The Green is to bring awareness on French cinema to a diverse and young American audience in their local communities in New York. We combine very well-known French movies from renowned directors — such as François Truffaut, Agnès Varda, and Luc Besson — with more recent, contemporary, and lesser known feature films, such as Michel Gondry’s The Science Of Sleep.
Every year, with our partners at NYC Parks, we work around a specific theme. In 2015, the theme was the cultural diversity of the Mediterranean, and in 2016, we focused on the city of Paris — within the framework of our year-long collaboration, Tandem Paris-New York — which highlighted the mutual fascination between the City Of Lights and the City That Never Sleeps.
This year, however, to mark the 10-year anniversary of the festival, we chose to present French cinema through the eyes of 10 well-known figures, some of the most creative and compelling filmmakers, actors, and artists of our time, who each selected one film to be screened this summer. Directors Wes Anderson, Jim Jarmusch, James Ivory, and Matías Piñeiro, actresses Wanda Sykes, Isabella Rossellini, and Amy Hargreaves, Mad Men series creator Matthew Weiner, and artists Saul Williams and Laurie Anderson were invited to choose a film that spoke to them and that they wanted to share with New Yorkers.
Just as with some of our other programs, we seek to reach the local communities in new and innovative ways. We want Films On The Green to be accessible to all. From students in the field and film aficionados to outdoorsy New Yorkers, we hope that everyone will find something in the festival that interests them. This year we hope that these 10 figures of American cinema, TV and entertainment industries will enable us to reach new communities that are less familiar with the festival. Indeed, who could better speak to the beauty and poetry of Alain Gomis’ Tey (Today) than Saul Williams, who himself stars in the film?
Do you have a favorite of the films chosen for Films On The Green?
Bénédicte de Montlaur: I must admit that Jean-Luc Godard’s Contempt has always been one of my favorite movies, but I am excited to see all of the festival’s films. The selection is varied and deals with so many different topics: women’s emancipation in the late 1970s in France with François Ozon’s Potiche (Trophy Wife), WWII with Claude Autant-Lara’s La Traversée De Paris, social mores with François Truffaut’s The Wild Child, and more.
I am particularly eager to watch Laurie Anderson’s selected film Port Of Shadow by Marcel Carné, which depicts the adventures that befall an army deserter as he attempts to flee his fellow soldiers. The film will be screened at Tompkins Square Park on July 14, a very important date for us as it is our Bastille Day, our French Independence Day, and the perfect occasion to do a French activity!
This year for the first time, we are screening a French film with Spanish subtitles. Reaching out to the Spanish-speaking community has been an objective of the Cultural Services of the French Embassy for many years. The festival is one of our programs that targets the greatest number of local communities, and we’ve been working for the past 10 years with NYC Parks to get as many of the local parks on board as possible. The screening of The Science Of Sleep,directedby Michel Gondry, is a project developed in partnership with the Mexican Cultural Institute of New York. Here again, we wanted to stretch the boundaries of our French cinema festival and are thus screening the movie in a new park, the J. Hood Wright Park, located at the heart of the Spanish-speaking community in Washington Heights.
Beyond Films On The Green, what else is coming up for Cultural Services of the French Embassy?
Bénédicte de Montlaur: Films On The Green has expanded throughout the United States, and festivals now take place in Boston, Chicago (Films On The Lake), and Miami (Films On The Beach). Films On The Lake is coming out with an exciting line-up this year, including Jacques Demy’s The Umbrellas Of Cherbourg on June 21, Bibo Bergeron’s animated movie A Monster In Paris (July 29) and Raoul Peck’s documentary I Am Not Your Negro on August 10 at the DuSable Museum Of African American History.
We look forward to celebrating the “Fête de la Musique” and contemporary French musical talent on June 21 at Summerstage, where French and francophone musicians will take the stage with genres ranging from hip-hop to soul and pop. This year’s concert will feature Wax Tailor, known for his live performances of electro music overlayed with old-school, live musical acts and video projections, as well as Her, Ayo et Ala.Ni.
The “Fête de la Musique” is part of a larger French music festival, France Rocks Summerfest 2017, which starts early June and runs through mid-July and presents Fishbach at the Lincoln Center (June 8) or Tony Allen at Le Poisson Rouge (July 5), among others.
Within the framework of our year-long program, How 1917 Changed the World — which commemorates the entrance of the United States in WWI — we will present at a concert at Summerstage featuring musicians Vince Giordano & The Nighthawks, Avalon Jazz Band, and Aurora Nealan. The event will be a celebration of Parisian and New York hot jazz, swing and ragtime and will highlight the cross-pollination of French and U.S. musical culture of the early 20th century.
And for those looking for an exhibition to check out this summer in New York, the solo exhibition of design works by France-based designer Robert Stadler, presented as part of our Oui Design program which aims to encourage French-American collaboration around design, will be on view at the beautiful Noguchi Museum through September 3rd: a must-see summer exhibition!