Thirty short films, based on ideas culled from over 3,000 proposals submitted by French students aged under 20, and directed by a cross-section of volunteer helmers and celebs make up “3,000 Scenarios to Combat a Virus.” Spots — produced with the help of all six Gallic channels — will be telecast and coupled with high-profile theatrical releases (including Palmed’Or winner “Pulp Fiction”) before touring schools and prisons.
A few of the mini-pix are standouts with international potential, in which humor and/or well-channeled emotions create vivid, thought-provoking cinematic worlds. But, overall, this omnibus collection, initiated by humanitarian organization Medecins du Monde, points up how difficult it is to translate the reality of AIDS into an engaging, uncontrived and non-maudlin short.
Four production houses divvied up the winning submissions and helmers were assigned a script. Project — which is a great template for youth involvement in other countries — took three years to mount.
Emphasis is on heterosexual transmission; only one seg addresses intravenous drug use, and one other deals with male homosexuality.
Strident rap and moody classical are the two prevailing musical choices. Lensing styles run the gamut.
In Virginie Thevenet’s seg, Melvil Poupaud sets the wheels of doubt spinning in Chiara Mastroianni’s head with news that her boyfriend is cheating on her with an infected female classmate.
In excellent seg helmed by Tonie Marshall, Mathieu Kassovitz gives a compact, knockout perf as the schoolyard cut-up who flamboyantly buys condoms for a shy buddy who’s about to lose his virginity.
Jacky Cukier helms a wacky but unnerving look at a self-involved hippie family so far behind the times that they’re completely oblivious to the existence of AIDS. When distraught daughter informs astrology enthusiast Anemone that she’s HIV-positive, Mom says, “That’s wonderful, dear” and Mom’s current b.f. adds, “It’s good to be positive about things.”
When a 122-year-old teacher leads youngsters through the Paris natural history museum in the year 2080, they get a historic overview of AIDS and, muddling 20th-century trailblazers, ask if the Beatles discovered the vaccine.
Laurent Heynemann’s dialogue-free saga of a loving, infected couple is quietly powerful. Jacques Deray helms a sternly moving account of classmates mourning a deceased buddy at his funeral.
Several spots deal with pharmacies. Daniel Gelin stars as a senior citizen who bothers a pharmacist for countless items in order to mask his purchase of condoms — as demanded by the elderly woman (Patachou) he’s courting.
In the Cedric Klapisch-helmed comic gem that’s sure to travel the world, flustered Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi is transporting her adored goldfish, Kiki, in its bowl, which shatters. Thesp races to a pharmacy, storms the crowded counter and demands a condom. Another client adds bottled water and Kiki paddles in new latex home, brilliantly illustrating the slogan “A Condom Can Save a Life.”
Another, more controversial Klapisch contribution shows a series of lively nude couples — straight, gay, interracial — having sex in the same hotel room to a Philip Glass tune from “The Photographer” while offscreen voices describe how the existence of AIDS must modify behavior. A man applies a condom to his erect penis as a woman caresses him. Result is tasteful and informative.