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No wonder they say that the French are the most romantic people in the world – they bring love wherever they go. A chat with French director Frederic Auburtin on the topic of love is a testament to that.

“You can encounter love anywhere, and it’s the power of the mind and the entire experience of love that makes it exciting,” the well-mannered Frenchman tells Moviexclusive.com in a cozy café in Hilton Hotel. “Love is about freedom, fun, respect, and not forgetting the sex,” he adds cheekily with a chuckle.

Such wise words of love indeed, we’d say.

Auburtin was in Singapore recently to promote Paris Je T’aime, a film which he directs with 19 other acclaimed directors like Olivier Assayas, Tom Twyker and Alfonso Cuaron. Set in the romantic city of Paris, the opening film at last year’s Cannes Film Festival weaves numerous stories directed by different filmmakers together. Big names like Natalie Portman, Nick Nolte and Juliette Binoche star in the different short segments of the fascinating film about love.

Auburtin co-directs one segment with veteran French actor Gerard Depardieu. He is also in charge of the transitions that bring the shorts together cohesively – and this proved to be a challenge for him.

In his accented English, he emphasizes: “It’s my job to make sure they all blend together, and I had to bring out the best in each of them.

“People need not know what went into a tasty meal; they just need to know that it’s delicious. So I guess it’s not important to know the difficult process in putting the film together, you just need to know that it’s a good film.”

The talented director whose credits also include being a composer, a production manager and even an actor adds that it has been an extreme pleasure to work with such a large group of talented people. Amongst them are other well-known directors like the Coen brothers and Alexander Payne.

He recalls the fun times he had when he went to Cannes with actor Elijah Wood. He also laughs when he talks about his driving trip with Payne. “There we were, two men in a car, talking non-stop about wine. It was just like his movie Sideways.”

Then there is co-director Depardieu and screen legend Gena Rowlands, who wrote the story for their segment entitled “Quartier Latin”.

Working with Depardieu was a breeze according to Auburtin, because the French actor has appeared in four out of his five works. It also helps that they have known each other for more than 20 years.

Seeing that the director is casually dressed in a long sleeved shirt, and with a jazz singer performing on stage behind us, we seized the opportunity to ask Auburtin how romantic Singapore is as a city compared to Paris.

“Seriously, you must visit Paris,” he says firmly. “The place is so exotic; it’ll have a powerful impact on you.”

Referring to our garden city, Auburtin tells us: “The traffic jam and the hot weather haven’t changed since the last time I came here 17 years ago. But it’s so beautiful and charming that I can feel the excitement and appetites of culture and love.”

Yes, and that’s why we all love the French.

PARIS JE T'AIME opens nationwide 22 Feb 07!
Click here for our review!

Interview by John Li
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