Paris is in Harlem
PARIS IS IN HARLEM is a multi-character mosaic set in 2017, on the day the infamous Cabaret or No Dancing Law was repealed in NYC. It follows several characters through separate but intertwined storylines that converge one winter night during an alleged shooting at a jazz bar in Harlem.
In Partnership With
From the Heart Productions
Inclusion StatementParis is in Harlem is a multi-protagonist film. There is no greater dedication to an inclusive representation in film than depicting a collective protagonist. Like Kallas' previous two films, Paris is in Harlem, will have a highly diverse cast and crew.
About The Project
PARIS IS IN HARLEM is set in 2017, on the day the Cabaret or No Dancing Law was finally repealed. It was one of NYC's darkest secrets, a law which has terrorized and decimated this city's culture and which impacted jazz clubs, bands and musicians the most. It was established during the Harlem Renaissance in 1926, geared towards minimizing the spread of jazz and other ethnically-cultural music. One could call it a war on jazz.
The film is a multi-character mosaic that follows several characters through separate but intertwined storylines that converge one winter night during a shooting at a jazz bar in Harlem. Jazz acts as a metaphor for all these voices and instruments that only make sense when put together until one of them takes over the melody and passes it on to the next—and then back together for one last explosion. All these stories could be told separately. But, the real story is when they are told together through the collective protagonist. This allows me to tell extreme and melodramatic stories without losing the tempo and the humor. Beyond the stories and the emotional experience I want to create for someone watching it—going from darkness to lightness, from a possible blood bath to an explosion of happiness expressed lastly through a joyful musical number in the boulevards of Harlem—it is about a world at the verge of a nervous breakdown, created through the absurdity of the current moment.
PARIS IS IN HARLEM is a film about life and death, structured like the most freewheeling of American art forms: Jazz--ultimately telling the story of a neighborhood, a city and an America that will find a way to dance again.
Why is Paris in Harlem?
Did you know that up until 2017, dancing in nightclubs was banned throughout the City that never sleeps? And that the same law had prohibited more than three musicians to play music together at one time? Did you know that the law had limited permitted instruments to only three, namely strings, keyboards, and electronic sound systems—purposely leaving out jazz staples like wind, percussion, and brass? Like criminals, jazz musicians needed to be fingerprinted, photographed and subjected to interrogations about their personal lives before they got a cabaret card allowing them to perform publicly. At the height of the NYC jazz movement some of those cards were suspended, some of those musicians left for Paris—where they were treated like human beings and respected like artists whose art was incredibly valuable to the world’s culture. Hence, the title of the film—Paris is in Harlem—a reflection of a very real dream in which the freedom of expression and culture afforded jazz musicians in Paris is finally brought back to New York—and to the world.
PARIS IS IN HARLEM is the third part of my New York Trilogy. I am interested in the “human toll” of the current moment—what I see as the overwhelming despair, rage, and paranoia of living in a collapsing society and the related mechanism of emotional violence. The first part of the trilogy, “42 Seconds of Happiness” (2016) showed that mechanism in the small circle of friends and family, our immediate environment. “The Rainbow Experiment” (2018) widened the circle. This time it was about our mediate environment, the place we go to every morning—school, work. “Paris is in Harlem” will widen the circle once again. This time it is an environment of strangers, people who are coincidentally at a certain place at a certain moment.
I aim to tell stories building suspense constantly without blowing things up, through a puzzle of personal, emotional human moments. My storytelling allows for the juxtaposition of different scenes and storylines, and ultimately for a different, more visceral and compassionate perception of the characters and their complexities. I believe that there is no better way to comprehend than to perceive a predicament emotionally, as an experience—and that truth lies in the simultaneous understanding of all sides involved, in what on the surface looks like a paradox.
Critical Praise for THE RAINBOW EXPERIMENT
‘If you've been digging the weirder, bolder side of American Indies circa 2018ish, namely Josephine Decker's stupendously stirring Madeline's Madeline, than you may want to keep your eye out for Christina Kallas' The Rainbow Experiment. Preposed as a jarring 21st century Rashomon, and set in a high school, Kallas' film is a dark and playful ensemble piece that looks to skew the depths of the soul for those cracks of truth.’ Screen Anarchy
'In Christina Kallas' Slamdance film, a chemistry experiment gone awry serves as the catalyst for widespread personal reckoning. Unnerving!’ IndieWire
'(The film) implodes like a cosmic event. The Rainbow Experiment could best be treated as a twist on the Crash formula by way of Sliding Doors and Timecode. () Kallas is someone to watch. She ought to be on everyone’s radar.' Film Threat
'While school shootings have become far too commonplace in the United States, writer-director Christina Kallas takes on a completely different type of school catastrophe. Kallas’ film, The Rainbow Experiment, challenges its audience with a complex narrative structure that frankly confronts the circumstances that surround a student’s death.' Hammer to Nail
'When bureaucracy comes head to head with hotheaded students, exhausted teachers, angry parents, and a system that leaves no room for natural and often inevitable human error, Kallas takes us in to how too human we can be, in that memory becomes unreliable, and ego clashes with understanding.' Screen Anarchy
'Perhaps the most arresting thing about Christina Kallas's The Rainbow Experiment, in an array of arresting things, is that its characters come to the screen fully formed, with their own special backstories, traumas, and histories which inform their actions and shape the story. The director's second film begins with an explosion and stays explosive.’ NoFilmSchool
'In these days of extreme tribalism and conflict, there’s a lot of finger-pointing going on. Yes, everyone agrees that we are surrounded by a broken system, that things have gone terribly wrong, and all too often, our first instinct is to seek out a scapegoat upon whom we can unload our anger and frustration. Director Christina Kallas delivers a meditation upon this human tendency in her second feature film, The Rainbow Experiment. Edgy and dizzying!’ Festworks
'The Rainbow Experiment is a revelation; a continually impressive ensemble piece allows all its given voices to inform on the theme in a way that seems nuanced, while never sacrificing the fire at the center of the story.' We Are Movie Geeks
‘A two-hours-long nail-biting-journey, which takes us on an emotional roller coaster. Kallas’ movie has no big names in it but through their incredible performance, they turn into a really stellar cast. Absorbing and shocking! Five Stars.’ Movies Move Me
Jury and Critical Praise for 42 SECONDS OF HAPPINESS
‘Tense from start to finish. There is not one second where the audience is not challenged or emotionally engaged.’ (St. Louis IFF)
‘Authentic and intense. The film manages to pull us into the story and keep us there throughout, as if we were one of the characters.' (Achtung Berlin - New Berlin Film Award)
‘You can’t take your eyes off of the screen. Exceptional acting, () even though it seems like there really isn’t a main character. 42 Seconds of Happiness is unlike any film I have ever seen.’ (Film Threat)
PARIS IS IN HARLEM is once more a multi-protagonist film. It is my strong belief that there is no greater dedication to an inclusive representation in film than depicting a collective protagonist. It is a strong alternative to the traditional hierarchical tree model of the single-protagonist film and the structures of power and dominance systems that it represents. It overcomes the hierarchical organization reflected in conventional movies’ privileging of one character over the rest, and the monolithic point of view that usually goes with it. Would one want to call it a female narrative or gaze? I opt for calling it 'the other gaze,' definitely indicative of a time when patriarchy is approaching its end, and when the tree structures are starting to dissolve. It is surely no coincidence that most multi-protagonist films tell stories marked by the power abuse of the fathers and that they deal with the themes of isolation and dysfunction.
PARIS IS IN HARLEM's form of storytelling is the ultimate form of inclusive cinema as it enables a simultaneous perception of different points of view, one that forges understanding of the complexity of truth and compassion for the human condition--perhaps the only way to approach such hot button issues as the film's themes of racism and sexism. This is a world where there is no absolute truth and no clear solutions and where we are training to perceive all perspectives at once. As such it breaks away from the 'male' cinema of plots, the storytelling of the patriarchy.
42 SECONDS OF HAPPINESS and THE RAINBOW EXPERIMENT have both had or are still having award-winning and critically acclaimed festival runs on an international level and have both found distribution. Their crowdfunding campaigns and festival runs have created a US and international audience which continues to grow as the films travel in a way that is rare for most American independent films. I am Greek, German, American—and my films have traveled and been embraced in many countries beyond the US and Europe, as in Russia, China, India. I want my films to have an audience beyond and above any boundaries. They are about the human experience, and the human experience knows no limitations. This crowdfunding campaign is meant to expand that core audience, inviting you all to join us on this exciting ride. Like with my previous films it will allow me to showcase some amazing working actors who do not belong to the very few names our industry keeps promoting and casting. Some of these actors have been with me for two feature films now, as part of my Writers Improv Studio Ensemble or WISE. For this film I am adding some deeply talented working musicians and dancers to the mix—and I could not be more excited for my most mindblowing ensemble yet.
Join the WISE team and take the next step with us! Jazz is alive, cinema is alive, and they are a state of mind!
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About This Team
Christina Kallas (Writer, Director, Producer) Christina Kallas is the award-winning writer-director of the critically-acclaimed ensemble dramas, THE RAINBOW EXPERIMENT (2018) and 42 SECONDS OF HAPPINESS (2017). Currently screening at multiple film festivals around the world, THE RAINBOW EXPERIMENT debuted at the Slamdance Film Festival 2018, and has so far won several awards and nominations at Cinequest, Cleveland, Ashland, the DC IFF, the Garden State FF, Harlem IFF, and St. Louis IFF. It had its international premiere at the Moscow International Film Festival 2018 and its Asian premiere at the prestigious FIRST Int’l FF, where it was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize. It was 1 of 5 independent feature films selected by US in Progress Paris 2017. In 2016, Kallas scored on the film festival circuit with her award-winning feature, 42 SECONDS OF HAPPINESS— the film is currently on Amazon Prime and several other platforms in 68 countries. Prior credits as a writer-producer include the John Hurt-starring political thriller, THE COMMISSIONER; BBC Films and Polygram’s hooligan drama, I.D.; Toronto and Berlin selection hybrid narrative/doc MOTHERS; and European TV series hits, Danni Lowinski and Edel&Starck. Kallas is also known as film studies professor in some of the top film schools and film studies programs worldwide, including Columbia School of the Arts, and as a celebrated author of books on screenwriting. Taught by Frank Daniel and Linda Seger she worked for many years as a script consultant and has developed her own structure theory and creative screenwriting method, catered specifically to multi-protagonist storytelling. She was the President of the Federation of Screenwriters in Europe (FSE) for eight consecutive years and was honored for her outstanding contribution to the international writers’ community. Kallas has served as Committee Chair at the German Federal Film Board FFA, Europe’s largest film subsidy, artistic director and head of jury at the Balkan Fund (part of the International Network of Film Festival Funds), and as a member of the international jury in festivals such as Sarajevo, St. Louis etc. Kallas' films have played festivals around the world, including the Berlin Film Festival, Toronto, Las Palmas and Thessaloniki. Film Threat recently called her ‘‘someone to watch; she ought to be on everyone’s radar.’’
Josh Mandel (Producer) is a film producer, as well as a senior film festival programmer. He began his filmmaking career in music videos with artists like Eminem and Sean Paul before segueing into features and commercials. Josh’s films have screened at dozens of festivals worldwide, including the Venice Film Festival, New York Film Festival, Tribeca, Rotterdam, Locarno, Edinburgh, London BFI, True/False and Deauville. Josh’s first feature was the Lord of the Rings documentary, Ringers, released worldwide by Sony Pictures. Josh produced Nathan Silver's breakout drama, Uncertain Terms, which was named one of the Best Films of 2016 by The New Yorker and Indiewire. Josh produced the first two films from Humphrey Bogart's revived production company: This Last Lonely Place, which was released theatrically Summer 2016, and White Orchid, starring Olivia Thirlby and Jennifer Beals, which will be released theatrically in 2019. He executive produced Mark Jackson’s debut feature, Without, which won an Independent Spirit Award and was released by Slamdance Presents and ArcLight Cinemas Fall 2017. He produced Thirst Street, a French/US co-production that premiered at the Venice Film Festival and Tribeca, and was released by Samuel Goldwyn Films Fall 2017. His latest feature production, This Teacher, will be premiering at the LA Film Festival and London BFI this Fall. In between films, Josh produces tv commercials and digital content for Mattel, Warner Bros, Disney, Universal, Marvel, DC, Dreamworks and WWE. Josh is also a Senior Programmer at the Slamdance Film Festival, one of the Top 5 film festivals in North America. As a producer and festival programmer he is known for his keen eye for discovering emerging talent.
Kojo Odu Roney (musician/cast member) is a 14-year old drum prodigy who comes from a family of well-known jazz musicians. He is the son of tenor saxophonist Antoine and a nephew of trumpeter Wallace. He has been playing drums since he was 5, and he has already been featured in a PBS documentary.
Souléymane Sy Savané (cast member) was born in Côte d'Ivoire, West Africa, and worked as a flight attendant for Air Afrique before moving to New York in 2000. In 2007 he was cast as 'Solo' in Ramin Bahrani's critically acclaimed 'Goodbye Solo,' for which he was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for Best Male Lead, and a Gotham Independent Film Award for Breakthrough Actor. In 2009, he had his first stage role in the American premiere of Ian Bruce's South African political crime drama Groundswell, directed by Tony Award Winner Scott Eliott, of The New Group Theater. In 2011, Souléymane co-starred alongside Gerard Butler in the film 'Machine Gun Preacher,' directed by Oscar Winner Marc Forster. You can also see him in Good Time and Keep the Lights On, as well as in numerous television roles, like Damages and Master of None. Souléymane is fluent in French and Mandingo.
Lauren Sowa (cast member) is an actor and an activist. She is a member of Christina Kallas' Writers Improv Studio Ensemble since 2011. She has been featured in the films 42 Seconds of Happiness, Café Artist, The Rainbow Experiment, and The Devil’s Well. In 2016, she and Tim Eliot founded Form & Pressure Films through which she produced Marisol, a short film about a young undocumented immigrant in New York. Lauren received her Acting BFA from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.
Martin Løfsnes (dancer/cast member) was born in East Germany and grew up in Norway. He studied at London Contemporary Dance School/The Place, and on scholarship at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center and the Martha Graham School. In 1993, he joined the Martha Graham Dance Company and as Principal Dancer performed extensively until 2006. He was in Matthew Bourne/AMP's Broadway production of Swan Lake, and performed with Metropolitan Opera Ballet, Pearl Lang Dance Theater, Donald Byrd/the Group, Dankmeyer Dance Company, Sasha Spielvogel/Labyrinth Dance Theater, and Errol Grimes Dance Group. In addition to The Ailey School, he is a faculty member at the Martha Graham School, Purchase College SUNY, Marymount Manhattan College, and the State College of the Arts (Oslo, Norway). He is the founder and Artistic Director of 360º Dance Company, which has performed ground breaking works such as Jane Dudley's 1932 solo 'Time is Money' and Lauri Stallings' 2007 ballet 'MAKTUB'.
Laura Pruden (cast member) is an award winning actor and storyteller. A member of Writers Improv Studio since 2012, she appears in the features 42 Seconds of Happiness and The Rainbow Experiment and is workshopping the upcoming Paris is in Harlem. Other screen includes Law & Order SVU, The Daily Show, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, ONN, and the award winning short, Insecurity (Rob Brink). Laura has performed on stage in NY, LA and Chicago, notably at Touchstone/Organic, Chicago Dramatists, Mark Taper Forum, New Ohio, Playwrights Horizons, Riverside Theatre, and opposite Anne Magnuson in the long running LA premiere of The Book of Liz at The Blank. You can hear Laura’s original stories live throughout NYC (Symphony Space, Neighborhood Playhouse, Bughouse Spin, KGB Bar, Dixon Place, etc.) and on The Brick Underground podcast. Laura studied acting at Northwestern (BA) and CalArts (MFA), taught at The Second City, received scholarships from New York Foundation for the Arts and the Adirondack Writers Retreat, and was a 2018 Su-CASA Artist in Residence in storytelling.
Antoine Roney (cast member/musician) is an American Jazz tenor and soprano saxophonist and bass clarinetist. He is one of the most charismatic jazz artists to have emerged in the 90’s. Listed as an All Star Band along side of Wallace Roney, Cindy Blackman and Mulgrew Miller he toured Germany. He later joined Elvin Jones’ Jazz Machine and played in The Elat Jazz Festival in Israel and toured Japan with the Jesse Davis Quintet and Finland with Ted Curson at the Proi Jazz Festival. He heads the Antoine Roney Trio.
Vickie Tanner (cast member) has worked in film, TV and theatre with Peter Berg, Sir Peter Hall, Donald Margulies and Stacy Cochran. Vickie is the writer and performer of Running Into Me, a solo play, performed in NY, L.A. and Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
Stephen Vause (cast member) is a member of the Actors' Studio since 1993. He is known for his work on Saturday Night Live. Theatre credits include playing at Williamstown Theatre Festival, Atlantic Theatre Company and Angel Theatre Company.
Ellie Foumbi (cast member) is a NY-based actor born in Cameroon. She moved to the United States at a young age and studied classical French theatre at the French-American School of New York and Directing at Columbia University's School of the Arts. Her award-winning short film, Zenith, where she directed herself, was a 44th Student Academy Awards Semifinalist and a 2018 African Movie Academy Awards Nominee in the Best Short Film category.
Chris Veteri (cast member) is a NYC based actor, a graduate of The William Esper Studio's Two Year Meisner Based Training Program and a member of the theatre and film production company The Collective. He is a member of Christina Kallas' Writers Improv Studio Ensemble since 2013, and has been featured both on 42 Seconds of Happiness and The Rainbow Experiment.
Tim Eliot (cast member) is a member of the Writers Improv Studio Ensemble since 2015. He was featured in The Rainbow Experiment. He recently wrote and played in Marisol, a short film about an undocumented woman facing a dire threat. Other credits: Boardwalk Empire, Seven Lovers, The 3Bits, duder, Down To Earth. A veteran of classical and downtown theater, Tim played MacBeth with Everett Quinton and several Sleep No More alums in a Catholic Church in Chinatown, Hamlet at the cell, and Romeo at Yale. He directed Romeo & Juliet in an abandoned garage in Long Island City, Much Ado in a garden/gallery in Chelsea, and Erdman’s Suicide!? in a former piano factory in Hell’s Kitchen. Tim is a graduate of the William Esper Studio, the ART/MXAT Institute at Harvard, and Yale University.
Makeda Roney (cast member/dancer) was born and raised in Harlem. She began her dance training at The DTH School under the direction of Arthur Mitchell on scholarship. She has had a diverse background in dance training, completing yearly and Summer programs on Scholarship including Lines Ballet Summer (2009), Walnut Hill School of the Arts and Summer Program (2010-2011), School of Steps (2011), The Ailey School Fellowship Program (2012-2013), The Joffrey Ballet in Chicago (2014) and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago (2015). Makeda is mentored by many pioneer dance artists such as Nia Love, Marjorie Liebert and Misty Copeland.
Nicole DiMarco received her BFA in Theater from Pace University. Recently awarded tenure, she is now in her eighth year of teaching Drama at Xavier High School in New York City and serving as Director of the Dramatics program. In 2018 she and several of her former students were in Christina Kallas' second feature film, The Rainbow Experiment.