Festival coverage sponsored by Indiepix.
Even when we discovered that Paris Hilton was a doc aficionado a year ago, we reasonably assumed that their hotel heiress would not be a regular fixture around these parts. But it's a topsy turvy world and who's to say if up is down when the biggest nonfiction spectacle in Toronto this week may not be Bill Maher, may not be Jimmy Page & co...
It's not enough to say that Tuesday marked the world premiere of Adria Petty's PARIS, NOT FRANCE, because that would ignore the weeks of speculation as to whether the film would screen at all or if we might be treated to a Cindy Sherman-esque disavowal.
But as our pal Karina Longworth reports, nothing could be further from the case:
"'I have to say, up until this moment, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to do this,” said TIFF documentary programmer Thom Powers in his introduction of PARIS, NOT FRANCE , undoubtedly referencing the hullabaloo that sprung up over the past few weeks when the film’s four planned festival screenings were reduced to one amidst rumors of possible legal action from the Hilton camp. But if Paris Hilton (or anyone on her payroll) is suing Adria Petty (or anyone on her payroll) because of this film, she is a) insane, and b) so fiercely committed to putting on a pretty face for the camera that she’ll actually a walk a red carpet in support of a film which she allegedly doesn’t want you to see.
Yes, Paris was in the building tonight. As soon as the emergency exit door at stage left popped open, someone in the audience cried, “Paris!” and a hush fell over the crowd. The 800 or so ticket holders at the Ryerson watched in virtual silence as Paris––head down, face blank––allowed herself to be led by boyfriend Benji Madden to their reserved seats. And then the snapping started. Cellphones, point and clicks, professional cameras—it seemed like everyone had one, and everyone stood up to train it on the rail-thin blonde, panopticon-style. The snapping just went on and on until Powers took the stage and cracked, “Don’t you want to take a picture of me?”"
An unsigned AP report says that Hilton gave the film her seal of approval:
"As she left the theater where "Paris, Not France" premiered Tuesday night at the Toronto International Film Festival, Hilton gave a few claps of applause after director Adria Petty was announced for a question-and-answer session to discuss the documentary."
The AP story also quotes director Petty as saying she wanted the film to be like Alex Keshishian's Madonna portrait TRUTH OR DARE.
But is it good? Back to Longworth:
"Shot on HD and edited on Final Cut Pro, flipping back and forth between full color, desaturated color, black and white, and choppy footage which was either imported into the editing software at the wrong frame rate or put through a process to make it look so, Paris would have the feel of a home movie even if the subject’s address to the camera didn’t seem so chummy and unguarded. You get the sense that Petty earned Hilton’s trust and created the ideal situation for the capturing of earth-shattering revelations.
Unfortunately, based on what we see here, Paris Hilton doesn’t have anything earth-shattering to reveal. Petty frequently cuts back and forth between media footage of Paris––without fail, blowing kisses and brainlessly babbling baby talk––and footage of Paris “At home”, having her beauty needs tended to while bitching in a husky drawl about her lack of privacy on the one hand, and the gullibility of her adoring fans on the other."
Joshua Rothkopf of the perennially dissatisfied Time Out New York finds little joy in the Ryerson:
"There will, one day, be an essential movie about Paris and her kind, a new La Dolce Vita. It will touch on everything: the lifestyle, the ravenous media hunger, the strange penchant for going commando. At root, it will analyze what Vanessa Grigoriadis called, in her Rolling Stone piece on Britney Spears, a “disease created by fame, yet to be named.” PARIS, NOT FRANCE is not that movie. A 68-minute profile by Adria Petty (yes, her rocker dad won’t back down) that still feels too long, the doc is frustratingly timid, focusing mainly on how hard Paris works at getting her photo taken."
Rothkopf also smells a conspiracy in the cutting of screenings:
"Tonight the film’s publicist e-mails me a heavily lawyered statement, regarding the canceled screenings, citing a “variety of reasons which we are unable to discuss.” TIFF got pushed around on this one, and you have to wonder who made them buckle. I want to know."
Strangely (or maybe not so strangely), The Gossip Girls were able to get the Paris' people to sing:
"In order to build up some extra hype, Hilton canceled two advance screenings that were scheduled prior to this evening’s premiere at the advice of her publicist.
Her rep, Jason Moore, told press: “We wanted to create more buzz, create some hype. We felt the impact would be more extreme if we had one screening. She is a partner with the documentary and will be attending Tuesday’s screening in support of it.'"