LYON – What will be Pedro Almódovar’s next film? Answer: It’s a remake of a French classic, 1895’s “Employees Leaving the Lumière Factory,” and Almódovar shot it Saturday in France’s Lyon.
Credited as the first mass audience movie ever made, “Employees,” admitedly, is just some 40-seconds long, the remake a homage to the Festival sited at the birthplace of film as a popular art and industry. Almodóvar’s remake came one day before Lyon’s closing ceremony, marked by a gala screening of “All About My Mother.” The Lumiere Festival is non-competitive. But a group of Lyon high-school students award a best film prize which this year was shared by Frank Capra’s “It’s a Wonderful Life” and Pedro Almodóvar’s “High Heels.”
“I’ve been in Lyon since Thursday and every hour have had marvellous surprises. But never in my wildest dreams did I imagine sharing ex-aequeo a prize with Frank Capra!” Almodóvar exclaimed.
“All About My Mother” brought to an end a vibrant 6th Lumière Festival dedicated to movie clasics and blessed by fullsome occupancy rates for films 40, 70 and 90 years old. If the Lumière Festival offered extraordinary and noteworthy films, some known, some offering genuine discoveries such as Henri Decoin’s “Au grand balcon” or Tomu Ichida’s Musashi Miyamoto saga, the most extraordinary thing about the Lumière Festival remains the fervor of its audiences for classic movies, many not yet attaining the recognition of classics.
Directed by Louis and Auguste Renoir, the original “Employees” shows workers streaming out of the factory gates to left and right, a horse-cart leaving, a man on a bicycle, a stray dog.
The Lumière Factory is no more; a stone portal has substituted its gates. Working from the same camera placement as the original, Almodóvar’s movie can be seen as not only a remake but a reappraisal of the Lumière brothers work which is credited far more for its documentary record of the hustle-bustle of the Belle Epoque than for its notable aesthetic qualities.
“Obsessed by symmetry,” Almodovar has his figures walking in lines of five towards the camera, according to the Lumière Fest Daily Rue du Premièr-Film.
Paulo Sorrentino took a more romantic approach, dressing Rossy de Palma, Berenice Bejo (pictured), Isabella Rossellini and Marisa Paredes in period hats, with Almodóvar suddenly appearing into view behind them.
Dolan’s short is probably the most conceptually developed. Including Keanu Reeves, John McTiernan, Edgar Ramirez. Thierry Freamaux, Bertrand Tavernier and Elena Anaya, his “workers” leaves the portal filming themselves with their smart-phones. Dolan said he’d like everybody to send him the films, but not because they’d necessarily be great cinema.
“I want to show what films looks like when one is only
interested in oneself and the instantaneous character of new technologies rather then taking the time to step back.”
The 6th Lumière Festival wraps Sunday Oct. 19 with Almodóvar’s “All About My Mother,” which won him his first Academy Award, as the closing film, with the Spanish director in attendance.