Manon de Boer — Sylvia Kristel – Paris

Sylvia Kristel – Paris is a portrait of Sylvia Kristel , best known for her role in the 1970’s erotic cult classic Emmanuelle, as well as a film about the impossibility of memory in relation to biography. Between November 2000 and June 2002 Manon de Boer recorded the stories and memories of Kristel. At each recording session she asked her to speak about a city where Kristel has lived: Paris, Los Angeles, Brussels or Amsterdam; over the two years she spoke on several occasions about the same city. At first glance the collection of stories appears to make up a sort of biography, but over time it shows the impossibility of biography: the impossibility of ‘plotting’ somebody’s life as a coherent narrative.

After having recorded different stories Manon de Boer decided to only use two stories about the period that Kristel lived in Paris. In the course of the montage she decided not to show the two stories in their chronological order. In other words: to show first the story recorded in 2002 and after that the story recorded in 2001. This was done because the story which she tells first, ergo the one that you hear as the second one, provides far less details. In that way not only the memory of Sylvia Kristel is questioned but also the memory of the viewer is questioned and an element of doubt is introduced.

Kristel’s stories wander through some of the key points in her life, fluidly forming and reforming the narrative elements. The city itself is rarely described directly. She speaks of her films, her love-affairs and how these have influenced her life’s trajectory. The cities are co-ordinates to which her memories move to, find themselves within and move away from. This finds a parallel in the image. These images are filmed from high-up and at street level, moving over the cities’ skin: its roofs, apartment buildings and boulevards, intercut by shots of cinemas, publicity images and people. The architecture appears as an interface between interiority and exteriority. Old Paris is intercut with images of architecture from the 1970’s; buildings which didn’t exist when she lived there, but which are as iconic of the period as she is herself.

Prix Georges de Beauregard, FID Marseille (FR) 2004.

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