Paris: International Creative Community Finds Grief, Insight in Attacks

French Entertainment Industry Reacts to Attacks
Rex Shutterstock

After the terror attacks on Paris on Friday, leaving 129 dead and hundreds more wounded, the international creative community has weighed in with reactions that vary from utter shock to wisdom. Below, find responses to the attacks from prominent voices in the film and television community around the world.

I was at home watching the (soccer) match on TV with my 13-year-old son when I heard a strange noise that sounded like an explosion. I immediately called my daughter, who is 21. She always goes to the 10th Arrondissement, where three of the attacks took place. It’s a district where young people go for a night out on weekends. Fortunately, she was not there. I lost two friends killed by bullets on Friday evening who were at the Eagles of Death Metal concert at the Bataclan Theatre.

As soon as I turned on the news, the first thing I thought is that there is generation of young people in Paris that is going to be really shocked for the next 10 years. For them, it will be like 9/11.

-Daniel Ziskind, a French producer and agent, and the European rep for Cairo-based production company Film Clinic. (Read Ziskind’s full commentary here.)

On Friday, Nov. 13, my country was hit in a way that was so violent and so cruel. Freedom was their target. It’s our most precious right. We fought so many years to defend it, preserve it and represent it in the eyes of the world.

By attacking a concert hall, a stadium, terraces of cafes, they wanted to assassinate this freedom, and also our culture, our creativity, our imagination, our artists. Freedom is the beauty of our life. This miraculous beauty that we must preserve in spite of the threat.

We’ll keep living, creating, imagining, hoping, laughing, drinking, loving, enjoying. … That’s our mission. You can count on us. We’re standing tall.

-Stephane Celerier, vice president of Studiocanal, and president of Mars Distribution, France’s top independent distributor.

(Violence by extremists) affects the types of roles you get offered. It signals that I might be getting more terrorist roles, even though I would rather be playing more ordinary Muslim characters. This is what we need to put at the front line of the media: that the vast overwhelming majority of Arabs are normal, and are fighting with all of you for the same cause.

The most important thing we should be focusing on is not to cave in against fear and hate. We have much more love, and are far braver than people who are snatching an opportunity to kill civilians who have nothing to do with any conflict whatsoever.

-Amr Waked, an Egyptian actor seen most recently in Luc Besson’s “Lucy.” He is also a producer of Arab films, including political drama “Winter of Discontent,” set against the backdrop of the Tahrir Square protests. (Read a full Q&A with Waked here.)

As screenwriters and directors, we walk on the streets, we read the papers, we observe things and we make movies. We use movies to produce images, to offer destinies to characters that we throw into the thunder of the world. Today, the thunder of the world is catching up with us in the hardest, most brutal way, and gives our images a cruel resonance. The horrific, tragic terrorist attacks that shook Paris on Friday night place this question at the center of our preoccupations.

We make movies. We don’t change the world; our job is to represent it. I deeply think that today, here in Paris, like everywhere, we must continue making films, release them, listen to music and drink on the terraces of cafes.

-Thomas Bidegain, a Paris-based screenwriter whose credits include this year’s Cannes Palme d’Or winning “Dheepan” and Oscar-nominated “A Prophet.”

My name is Mohamed. Where I come from, my name is a source of pride. Everywhere else, it’s a red flag.

As a film school student in Los Angeles post-9/11, we were asked to sum up the traits of our peers in an acting class, anonymously. My colleagues’ traits ranged from kind and competent, to sexy and smart. As for me, it was unanimously agreed that the adjective most descriptive of my persona was “suspicious.”

Fast-forward 10 years, today in Cairo, my wife and I debate whether we should home-school our daughter. With the unfolding chaos, we are apprehensive about sending her outside.

We who struggle with the lack of security in our home countries understand the most how the French people feel right now.

-Egyptian writer-director Mohamed Diab, who is shooting “Clash,” set inside a police wagon carrying pro- and anti-Muslim Brotherhood demonstrators. (Read Diab’s full commentary here.)

Day of mourning. The Barbarians struck. Hitting with war weapons and hatred. A carnage. I belong to a generation that survived WWII and the Algerian War. It’s starting all over again — the barbarism indoctrinated against the values of the Republic, against humanism. New Yorkers lived through this horror, they felt what we’re feeling. Like us, they were shattered, they felt outraged, they cried. The comfort comes from friends throughout the world, in India, Australia, Japan, Hollywood, everywhere. The comfort comes from all these tricolor illuminations, from all these moving Marseillaises sang with brotherly accents. There is a before and an after. What shall we do at present? How far are we willing to go in the privation of freedoms. Whatever happens, we will never stop living.

-Film historian Gilles Jacob, who was president of the Cannes Film Festival for 15 years.

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